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Choking on Self-doubt.... A Chat with Clementine Ford

June 18th, 2017

Two women sit in a well-worn office, in the heart of the Williamstown Town Hall. One woman is relaxed and engaging – her name is Clementine Ford; the seminal voice in feminism and author of the fabulously inspiring, Fight like a Girl. The other woman appears confident, but is harbouring a secret…. she is terrified.

The terrified woman is me, and my fear comes from Self-doubt.

Self-doubt rarely knocks on my door, and I almost never let him in, but every once and awhile, he sneaks in through the back and messes up my Confidence Room.

On this particular afternoon, my Confidence Room is in a state of upheaval! A storm has hit and the fallout is disastrous!

Externally, I remain steadfast.

After a series of well-crafted emails, I was able to secure an interview with Ms. Ford, regarding her appearance at the Willy Lit Fest. She had declined to do any interviews leading up to the event, so this was a real win for me!

When opportunities like this arise, it is easy to get swept up in the excitement of it all, but I was determined to maintain a sense of professionalism.

I hate doing interviews. I’ve studied how to do them, and have done a few during my time at the local papers, but they always feel a bit forced. I love talking to people and I love hearing their stories, but interviews are structured and I find structure repulsive.

Despite my aversion to the process, I spent the entire week immersing myself in all things Clementine Ford. I read her book, I researched her career, I listened to podcasts and read any number of her countless articles for Daily Life.

This was 100% the most important interview I had ever done and I was bathing myself in Pressure. By the time Sunday rolled around, I had made myself completely ill with anticipation.

A time and place had been arranged – 1:15pm, in the aforementioned office. I was prepared, I was pleased with my questions and I was as ready as I was ever likely to be.

I went to the toilet at 1pm, I checked myself in the mirror, adjusted my lucky skirt and gave myself permission to breathe. I was going to be fine!

As I paced around the Green Room, nervously awaiting her arrival, the countdown turned into a waiting game, as it became apparent my interviewee had been delayed.

I decided to kill time with a little old-fashioned comfort eating. The Green Room was bountiful – food to push the nerves down.

I began with a sandwich, taking the tiniest of bites, so as not to have a face full of food, when Clementine eventually came through the door. I then proceeded to inhale an insane amount of chocolate – determined that the sugar would override my overwhelming desire to vomit.

With each minute that passed, I was becoming increasingly aware that my interview time was diminishing dramatically. Clementine was required on stage at 2pm, for her session on all things Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and her role as a feminist icon.

I was starting to feel deflated – would all my stress and preparation be for nothing?

In my experience, there is only one thing to do when a total freak out is imminent…. have a cuppa.

So, I poured myself an English Breakfast and let the aroma and warmth comfort me from the inside out. Just as I was feeling a soothing sense of calm, I threw back the last mouthful and began to choke…. on the world’s most aggressive cup of tea!

As I coughed and spluttered my way out of the Green Room, the universe chose this moment to deliver Clementine Ford. With tears streaming down my face, and a cough that wouldn’t quit, all pretence of a perfect meeting, was well and truly out the window.

Explanations and apologies were exchanged - the interview postponed until after her time on stage. I had time to regroup and wonder if this moment of absolute ridiculousness, had actually been a blessing in disguise.

There is something to be said for nearly choking to death in front of those that we admire. I felt a little more relaxed, because surely things could only get better from here….

And they did!

Clementine Ford was warm and accommodating. She offered me encouragement and guidance and when I listen back to the 28 minutes and 58 seconds of conversation we engaged in, I was struck by something I hadn’t anticipated….

I fully expected that this woman would offer me concise and confident answers to the questions I had so meticulously constructed, and she did not disappoint.

What I didn’t expect to hear, was the other confident woman in the room….ME!

I heard myself, holding my own and it gave me a little thrill! My Confidence Room has not only been restored to its former gloriousness, but it seems to have been glitter bombed in the process.

Self-doubt is a cruel sonofabitch! He likes to hang out with Anxiety and lure us into darkness. I allowed myself to believe that perhaps this moment was too big for me to handle, or that I was not worthy of this woman’s time and attention.

The reality was very different.

Clementine Ford is a writer, a mother, a champion of big ideas and opinions – she fights for what she believes in and she too, has been visited by Self-doubt. Based solely on that description, she and I have loads in common.

Her successes drive and inspire me to keep on keeping on, because I know now, more than ever before, that this is what I am meant for and Self-doubt has no place here!


*To check out the feature article I wrote about my time with Clementine Ford, head to inkcloud.co

#ClementineFord #WillyLitFest

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