Like I said in my most recent blog post, it’s important to be honest, so I will be: I originally started posting my poetry online because, as a business student, I knew I had to build an audience for my debut poetry book before it was published, in order to maximize sales. If nobody knows your book exists, nobody is going to buy it – this is especially true as a self-published author.
Building My Poetry Instagram Account: A Big Step
Why was the beginning of my Instagram such a monumental occasion for me? Up until June 1, 2020 when I posted my first poem, only five people had ever read my poetry. I was notoriously private about my writing, and for good reason. Writing was my sanctuary, a place to feel at home with my emotions that I couldn’t always explain well.
But, most of all, I wasn’t confident enough in my poetry to share it with the world.
I felt like I would be judged by others for the content, the style, and the quality of my writing. I never had any formal training in poetry – just brief stints in English classes and the best three day weekend at a writing conference. All of this was self-taught and I was self-conscious about putting it out into the world. I thought people would view my love poems as too emotional or think I had no right to feel that strongly about a new relationship. Judgment – both from myself and from others – was the biggest enemy of my writing. It is why it took years for me to work up the courage to be on a platform like this, sharing my thoughts, feelings, and words with you.
Nonetheless, when I decided I wanted to publish a poetry book – finally fulfilling that childhood dream of mine to be an author – I was ready to put myself out there in baby steps. First, an Instagram account with no one I knew following me – a chance to make a name for myself and establish credibility. Second, sharing that account with my friends and family. Eventually, I even made this love of poetry known in my college and professional settings too, which was something I had never thought would happen.
How Did We Get Here?
It still took a lot of growth in my confidence to get to a point where I was ready to take those baby steps in sharing my writing with the world, but I credit it to poetry. My confidence grew when I rediscovered my voice and reaffirmed my passions with myself – that was poetry.
Through writing, I was able to express myself in a way I didn’t find possible with speaking. It allowed me to work through thoughts and put everything onto paper when I was afraid of being judged by something I said. Once I was able to form those thoughts into words on a page of poetry, I found I was ready to speak with confidence out loud. It was a slow process, over many years, but eventually I stopped caring what people thought about me. I owned my passions, my interests, and my thoughts, and became more free in sharing them. My voice shook less when I spoke in front of groups of my peers and I volunteered readily for leadership roles where I needed to step up and speak up.
It helped my confidence even more when people in my Instagram community started commenting or reaching out about how relatable my poems were. How it was just the thing they needed to read that morning, or how they had felt the same way too. It reassured me that I was not alone in what I felt and that I shouldn’t fear being judged for my emotions – others had the same feelings too.
And, honestly, without poetry, I genuinely wonder when I would have reached this point in my life where I have the confidence to be honest with myself in front of an audience of others.
Want to Read More of My Confidence-Building Story?
Chapter 7 in my debut nonfiction book, Poetic Potential: Sparking Change & Empowerment Through Poetry, is dedicated to confidence – my story and those of other interviewees I encountered along the way. Be sure to check it out wherever you buy your books!