Growing Into Yourself Away From Home

When I Started writing poetry, I had the worst case of imposter syndrome. I wrote and performed in ways that mimicked my favorite poets. I didn’t have a voice of my own, and I wrote about topics I thought other people wanted to hear. I was extremely critical of my writing and always compared myself to other artist. I think every poet or creative goes through this stage, and while hard, it can be beneficial. When I finally found my own poetic voice, it was all the more thrilling, and I felt like I was started over, but this time with more knowledge of myself. I wrote my first poem about four years ago, and I honestly say that I didn’t discover my own voice and truth until about a year and a half ago. It takes time. If this were a sermon, my first point would be “growth takes time.” Growing in any way, especially as an artist is not something that happens overnight. It’s a long process of self-discovery. Till this day, I’m still growing as an artist. I’m still learning so many things about myself and about the world that influence how I write. I was 14, and in high school when I wrote my first piece now I’m 18 and a Sophomore in college, and it was also in college that I experienced my second wave of growth as an artist and as a person. I attend Spelman college, which is pretty much one of the most competitive spaces I’ve ever been in. Everyone is looking for ways to stand out and be better than the next person, especially the artist on campus.

   Spelman is a part of the AUC which includes two other schools. While that is a great opportunity to meet new artist and experience growth, it can also be the beginning of self-doubt and comparison. As head ahhs as it may sound, I’ve really had to learn to trust the process and believe in my own pace. It was really hard getting into the art scene in Atlanta because it seemed like everyone there was an artist. Everyone has established their own tribe their ways of operating, and here I was writing about things that required a bit more knowledge or were totally different from what everyone else was writing about. During my first semester, I wrote one poem, and I was so hard on myself for it. I felt so uninspired and felt as if I wasn’t a true poet because I was “writing every day.” But I realize that great things take time, and sometimes and sometimes not so great things take time but it all it takes time. I came to Spelman, expecting to find this perfect scene for me and left my first year knowing I had to create that for myself. Which is kind of funny because it seems like my entire life is just about creating something to fit me. Going to Spelman requires you to compete, but I’ve learned to compete against my highest self. To stay true to me, to stop counting how many snaps a piece gets, I got the words out, and that’s all that matters. Writing is a cathartic experience, and the biggest growth I’ve had as an artist is to not judge that experience by how others respond to it.

Osarugue Otebele