My Thoughts…

Insecure Poet

I was going to keep this to myself, as I prefer to deal with things on my own, but writing helps me deal with things, as well as making my voice heard. I want all parts of my journey to be documented, not just the ups, but the down moments too, as they are what make me stronger in the end. There are also those out there who may share my experience, and I never want anyone to feel like they are alone. I feel like that too often.

My insecurities have been rearing their ugly head recently, leading to a lot of inner struggle and fighting I’d rather avoid, as it’s dragging my mood. It seems like all the positivity I was riding on a couple of weeks ago is draining away and I’m hating that – I know I’m a bit PMS-y, which is never a good thing. But I don’t want my insecurities to win; I know they’re the devil’s lies.

My biggest insecurity is about my poetry, which is an annoyingly recurring theme. I fall into the trap that I always advise other poets not to do, which is comparing myself to others. I find myself doubting my poetry too often, even when I know that it is God-given gift and that I am actually good at what I do (I seriously struggled to type that, as I never want to come across as arrogant or egocentric; I also struggle with self-praise) – I’ve developed a lot as a poet over the years. However, I still find myself thinking that I’m not good enough – good enough compared to who, I don’t know.

I don’t think this has been helped by quite a few rejections recently; an inevitable part of an artist’s career journey, but always scathing nonetheless. I remember asking esteemed poet, Anthony Anaxagorou, about rejection and he said that it never gets easier; you’ve just got to keep pushing through. Nevertheless, it sometimes feels like pushing through is all I am doing, but I’m regularly getting pushed back by blocked walls.

It’s tiring, especially when it begins to feel like you regularly have to pay money to get your art noticed to carve out a career in poetry (when not earning a whole lot of money yourself) by submitting to competitions (that you may not win) or buying tickets for open mic nights (sometimes not getting a chance to perform). I understand the arts are underfunded and under-respected, which is unfair in itself and part of the problem – it can get real tough on artists.

Like I said, rejection is inevitable and I’m learning to deal with that as best I can (God lets everything happen for a reason). Being a creative can be gruelling and I can deal with that, as I’m no stranger to putting in work. However, what I’m most struggling with is feeling alone as a poet, like I don’t fit in anywhere in the world/scene/community of poetry. I’m not snappy, punchy or verging-on-rap-rhythmic enough, so I don’t fit in the spoken word poetry world. My poetry isn’t very obscure with lots of long words, so I don’t slot into the page or wider poetry world either.

I’m kind of just there; floating. Being told I’m great by some, but that I need to be a lot better to move forward by others in the world of poetry. I find myself wondering if my growth will ever be good enough or if there will ever be enough space for me to fully break through. Sometimes I wonder if I should give up on a creative career altogether and pursue something that will be easier on my emotional and mental state, because maybe I’m too sensitive and not strong enough for this. I do still take a lot of things personally, even though I am trying to deal with that.

What is for sure: I love art and I’ve only ever wanted to be a creative. I also don’t belong in this world and never will, so why should I expect to belong as a poet? I just don’t want to let these insecurities bring me down.

Good with Turning 27

Yesterday I turned 27, which is actually kind of strange of me to type, cos it’s weird to think that little me is 27.  Little me you know, with the baby face and all that, but 27 I am and I am good with that.  Very good with that.

Saying that I’m good with 27 is an even weirder thing for me, because I have disliked the thought of getting older for so long.  I hated turning 25 with a passion and although I was fine with 26, the thought of getting older still filled me with dread.  For a long time, the age of 27 disturbed me and I tried to avoid it, especially as it feels even closer to 30, but I’m not feeling too bad about that age either now.  As long as these good genes of mine hold out, I’m still gonna be looking young and I love that.

I also felt really blessed and grateful to God to not only see another year, but to see another day of my life, as I’ve wanted to have my life taken away from me on way too many occasions to count over the past three years.  This earth is a sick, twisted, sad place, which I know I’m not made for and wish I could leave, but I’ve also felt that so many others should be still breathing in place of me, who is often so ungrateful for the breath I have in my body.  That was not the case this year.

I was extremely happy on the day, and I had been in a great place during the days leading up to it, which is always a positive thing.  I’ve also had a positive year on the most part, with a number of amazing things happening and God opening a number of doors.  I got baptised this year, my platform became an official organisation and celebrated three years this year (through God’s help only), I won my first competition with my poetry this year, I delivered my first keynote address this year, and I had my face plastered over a storefront this year.  This is just a snippet of some of my many highlights, and we’ve still got four months of the year to go.

At 27, God has given me more than I could have ever imagined or asked for.  He’s put me on a path I never expected or planned for, but love with all my heart and gives me a reason to keep fighting on.  He’s also blessed me with many beautiful people, who contributed to making my day so special and a whole lot of fun, especially my sister who was there throughout the whole thing.

Usually, my birthday feels like a new chapter, but this year feels more like the middle of a chapter that is still being written, which probably won’t be finished until the new year comes and I am more than good with that.  I just can’t wait to see what the rest of the year brings and what other blessings God brings my way, cos I know that I’ve got a whole lot more work to do, more love to spread in the world and more people to empower so that their voices are heard.

I’m only just beginning to tap into my true power and potential.

Not A Good Person

I’ve come to love myself, but continue to hate several aspects of me,
I am glaringly aware of the flaws gnawing away inside, destroying heart and mind,
I know I’m not a good person, though so many would say I am –
I’m an inner narcissist and I hate that;
I’m selfish at times and I hate that;
I don’t give enough time to certain individuals in my life and I hate that;
I still crave a level of approval and validation from others at times and I hate that;
I continuously compare myself to others and I hate that;
I want what others have and I hate that;
I sometimes envy what others have and I hate that;
I never feel like I’m good enough and I hate that;
I never feel like I’ll be enough and I hate that;
I still don’t believe in myself and I hate that;
I’m not grateful enough for life, when so many beauties would love to be alive. I really hate that.

Shaniqua Benjamin