Wherever I Go…
…there I am, in all my neurotic glory.
In early September, in the days after attaining my Coastal Navigation certification with my sailing mentor, Nancy Erley, I felt empowered—a confident captain of my fair little ship. I started drafting a piece titled Empowerment. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary (online edition) empowerment means: the act or action of empowering someone or something; the granting of the power, right, or authority to perform various acts or duties. By the time I re-opened the file after a week of end-of-sailing-season boat work, instead of feeling sure of my skills and judgement, I once again felt “not enough.” Though I certainly did not know any less on that day than when Nancy departed Kagán for home, somehow I felt like I did. It made me wonder, as noted in the definition, if I needed the power to be “granted” to me by someone else. Why can’t I claim it for myself?
I don’t love this feeling, this need to be empowered by another’s faith in me, rather than my own belief in myself. No matter how much I respect her, and my respect for Nancy is beyond measure, still I want to feel it within, and I have no doubt Nancy would want that for me—she respects me, so when will I?
I also don’t love disclosing this, but I believe there is power in going deep, in having the courage to be vulnerable as a writer. I believe that is how writers touch people most profoundly. Maybe that is one of the things I can claim for myself, courage as a writer.
Now that I consider it, even when I go from feeling like a confident captain to an uncertain one, I still get out there—sailing, cruising, and caring for Kagán—sometimes alone and sometimes with crew, but out there doing it. It seems Empowered Me and Insecure Me look pretty much the same to everyone but me. And maybe, just maybe, I’m not the only one in that same boat or on that same page.
Here’s another confession, I do love show tunes. But how does that relate to empowerment? Well, in the words of the lyricist, Oscar Hammerstein II in the song I Whistle a Happy Tune from the musical The King and I:
Make believe you’re brave
And the trick will take you far.
You may be as brave
As you make believe you are.
Though I’m not a big fan of “faking it until you make it,” I think in this case, it isn’t faking whatever the task at hand is (like, for instance, docking Kagán), it’s faking believing in myself until I actually do.
So, the passage I’m on these days, by land or by sea, is the ongoing journey to myself, as always with notebook in hand. Perhaps, en route, I’ll redefine empowerment for myself. I expect wherever I go, there I’ll be in all my glory, in whatever way I choose to define that. How about this—empowered and enough.
Tell me, what journey are you on?
You are definitely not the only one to feel that way and I appreciate your vulnerability. The belief in self is a constant battle, though few others seems to see the battle going on. Instead they only see the vibrant and self confident women running amuck through the world. And though I don’t like show tunes, I love using the word “amuck”. 🙂
You are courageous, dear friend—taking such deep dives. Perhaps better than “empowered” would be “empowering.” I’ve always been more enamored of gerunds than of adjectives; more interested in process than in product!
Lovely post, Deb. I don’t believe in “fake it ’til you make it” either. No white guy has ever uttered those words. But “imposter syndrome” is real… whether it’s internalized from decades of socialization or unhealthy interpersonal messages… and I applaud your courage to normalize talking about vulnerability. There a lot of toxic positivity embedded in white supremacy culture. but as you’ve so eloquently expressed in your post, there’s power in the vulnerability and self-acceptance. So really, I don’t think you need to “make believe” anything — you’re skilled, you’re competent, you’re enough. And you can be afraid and vulnerable, and amazing, all at the same time – you rock, Deb!
Brilliant, simply brilliant! I too am not a big fan of “faking it until you make it” and yet I do like the idea of getting your “Insecure self” to get out of the way of your self-“empowered – self” in order to right your course. Sometimes we just have to give that “insecure self” another job that takes the attention that otherwise would have been so FOCUSED on why it exists. Oh yes, my friend, you are definitely not alone in this one. Brilliant! AND E2 “empowered and enough,” THAT just says it all.
Always nice to see you on my screen, Deb (and you, too, Serin!). A wise and wonderful woman who I know and admire greatly once dubbed me an “insecure seeker.” She explained that she meant it as a compliment because insecurity is what leads one to seek something more; something that will, yes, empower her/him “enough” until the next insecurity pushes her/him further. Anyone who feels totally secure has stopped trying to grow – and ya know what happens then… 😉
Deb – congrats! I also love show tunes! I loved your example here from the King and I! Keep it up!
Well said my boating friend. You have the magic touch in many more ways then one. Hope all is well with you and yours. Much Love……Scott MacDougal.. aka Vic…
Well said and I can relate completely. Getting to empowerment and feeling like “enough” seems to be a journey. When you look back five or ten years to your skill set and what you were confident doing at that time, don’t you feel that you are able to do more (boat captaining, boat maintaining, life) than before without questioning yourself? I think your skill set is amazing. Plus, I don’t think that it’s all bad to question ones self. It keeps one cautious in life and humble about what can happen.
Thank you for sharing this. I too have both the Empowered Me and Insecure Me acting at the same time. I suppose as long as we keep getting out there, that’s what counts.
Thank you for being such an inspiration for me. Your mentorship continues. 🙂