Let Go My Ego

The other thing that came up in my conversations with Emma today was ego and its relationship to creativity and public presence. Basically, when my inflated ego is running the show, my work kinda sucks. But when I can skirt under its radar and stay decently humble, I can do wonderful things.

I got hit in the head with this fact about five years ago when I was living on the East Coast and calling myself a “poet.” I was performing frequently, winning slams (competitions), influencing local arts culture, and being told daily how amazing I was. My ego inflated to the size of a rhinoceros, and then — almost immediately — something horrible happened: I stopped writing poetry for three years.

It was the kind of writer’s block that I’ve heard referred to as Superstar Syndrome: I felt like I couldn’t top my own work. I had become so invested in the identity of being impressive that I lost all willingness to make mistakes. It felt safer to create nothing than to risk creating something less-than-awesome.

Fast forward to now, where I’m slowly inching my toes back into the poetry pool (the water’s nice!), and playing around in Social Media sandbox. I’m aware that I’m mumbling into a megaphone with all these fancy tools, toys, and words, and that I don’t get to control the outcomes. Occasionally I get hit with an ego bomb that catches me completely off guard, and I’m reminded to check in with my intentions.

Encouragement is helpful and I usually need some kind of validation, but I also have to constantly work to find a safe balance in my self-image. It’s not something I can just “fix” — it’s constant maintenance. It’s spiritual grounding. It’s remembering that we’re all equal. It’s remembering that when other people give me attention, it’s not about me; it’s about them.

But oooh…. look at all my shiny twitter followers… Look! I must be awesome!

Down, girl. Sit. Stay.

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2 Responses to “Let Go My Ego”

  1. Amy Gahran Says:

    I can sooooo relate to this… Then I realized that I’m actually much more engaging and interesting when I’m not trying to be perfect :-)

    Beginner mind is one of the most important Zen concepts I ever learned. Once you learn to get comfortable with being a beginner (or at least, not an expert), you have true freedom in almost every area of life.

    I’m not saying that’s easy. But it helps.

    – Amy Gahran

  2. unreliable narrator Says:

    I don’t know who I am. I like you too! I’m scared of Twitter. Emma is wise.

    Cheers, the Un