For as long as I can remember, I told myself I wasn’t a good writer. I’m not quite sure where these seeds of doubt began or how they were planted. I imagine it was in the moments where I simply made mistakes. I misinterpreted tones and tenses, made up stories and saw themes in my missteps. I understood feedback as failure from a really early age.
These little contributions added up to a lot – enough to make me doubt that I had any talent. Corporate America didn’t do much to help. When I arrived, everyone had an opinion on my writing and very few were intended to make me better at my craft. Instead, they were a feeling based on a hunch. “I just don’t like how it sounds,” they would say. What my mind heard? “You just don’t know how to write.” It was an equation that added up to my belief I wasn’t a good writer, even as I look back on a career that was successful because of my ability to write.
I remember the beginning of each new year in corporate America coming with a lot of momentum from managers, but it often trickled down in small comments that made me question if I was actually good at my job. Even if my annual review was good, the feedback always felt like a fuck you.
I didn’t shed that sensation just because I started my own business. In fact, I had to manage more feedback than ever and understand how it manifested in my mind.
No, I didn’t shed any doubt by starting my LLC. I created folders and drafts. Invested months creating things only to tell myself at some point it just wasn’t worth reading. That no one cared. Just look at my “book” folder. There are 4 books I started – one nearly done – that never made it to Amazon or any other publisher because my seeds of doubt were simply too deep. It was easier to believe that it wasn’t good enough for anyone to want to read after years of corporate conditioning than to convince myself that my stories should be sent into the world.
But as I allow more of my work to go into the world each week in these blogs and letters (subscribe to get them here), I find a lot of comfort in the one-off messages and cues that remind me these stories matter. It’s the “you read my mind” or “I needed this” messages you send on Instagram and LinkedIn. Subtle reminders that none of us tend these gardens of our minds alone.
What I’ve learned from these kind notes is the truth. That is, if the work you create helps someone? If it can make one person more confident and unplug some seeds of doubt? That work is worth sending. It’s good enough. If you made it, it’s worth going on the internet. I mean, have you seen some of the shit on the internet? I don’t know when we all started believing that there was some bar, but I’m here to tell you the bar doesn’t exist. Hit send already.
So if you’re doing your best with the intent to help? This is your sign. Hit send, publish, and let the world love your work. I hope you don’t let anyone uproot you, but you’ll let everything rip out those deeply planted seeds of doubt. Your work is worthy of seeing this world. You can change everything for one person and that’s enough.
And if you need a pep talk? You know where I’ll be. Standing right beside you in the cheering section.
Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.
Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster, Care.com, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.
Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.