This tweet has been circulating social media; it originated on Twitter, but I saw it on Facebook. Since January 15th, it’s received 162.8K likes and has been shared 14.1K times. Obviously, it struck a chord with many people. Some of the responses include:
“It’s a shame more girls aren’t encouraged to feel like that. I wanted to be a writer from the age of 7, and was told by my mum and grandma that I sounded conceited and mad if I said things like ‘When I’m a writer.’ To this day I wonder if I’m kidding myself.”
(Of course, there was no shortage of replies touting the indisputable fact that Judy Blume is one amazing and influential author.)
I’ve always enjoyed writing. Although I prefer writing fiction and continue to hold fast to my dream of one day being a traditionally published author, I’m not totally inept at academic writing. The words simply don’t flow as freely. Academic writing requires a different sort of thinking. To illustrate, I can write an 80K word YA or romance novel without batting an eye but cringe at the thought of writing a 500-word critical analysis. A 5-page paper has me in a cold sweat. A 10-page paper gives me heart palpitations. Writing a PhD dissertation seems akin to climbing Mt. Everest. Major kudos to those who do (write a PhD dissertation and/or climb Mt. Everest). APA and MLA citations? *shudders* Pure tedium.
And yet here I am.
I earned an undergraduate degree in Inclusive Education with a concentration in Humanities. Ironically, the majority of my Humanities courses consisted of upper-level English/Lit classes. Reading and writing interests me. Needless to say, I wrote a lot of papers as an undergrad. Now halfway through earning a master’s degree in Literacy Education, I will attest that I have written a lot of papers and will likely write a lot more in the coming months. And even though I prefer to write fiction, I do receive a certain amount of satisfaction in tackling and taming difficult academic concepts. There is joy in synthesizing and distilling ideas, of crafting sentences, of choosing just the right word or phrase to accurately convey my thoughts.
Here’s the thing, though. A sad thing, in fact. I have never considered myself one of my favorite authors. To do so has never even crossed my mind. What does that amount of self-confidence even feel like?
More importantly, if I have never considered myself one of my favorite authors–if YOU have never considered yourself one of your favorite authors–how can we possibly model and instill that self-confidence and self-efficacy in the students who need it most?