The river is famous to the fish.
The loud voice is famous to silence,
which knew it would inherit the earth
before anybody said so.
The cat sleeping on the fence is famous to the birds
watching him from the birdhouse.
The tear is famous, briefly, to the cheek.
The idea you carry close to your bosom
is famous to your bosom.
The boot is famous to the earth,
more famous than the dress shoe,
which is famous only to floors.
The bent photograph is famous to the one who carries it
and not at all famous to the one who is pictured.
I want to be famous to shuffling men
who smile while crossing streets,
sticky children in grocery lines,
famous as the one who smiled back.
I want to be famous in the way a pulley is famous,Naomi Shihab Nye
or a buttonhole, not because it did anything spectacular,
but because it never forgot what it could do.
Whenever I struggle with feelings of impostor syndrome or self-doubt, I return to this poem.
Whenever I feel like I’m not enough — not good enough or strong enough or famous enough — I read this poem and feel better.
I hope it can be a reassurance to you, too.
A few years ago, I came across this idea of ambition, and I didn’t connect with it. Ambition felt icky. I saw that there were two paths ahead: 1) embrace personal ambition and strive, strive, strive, or 2) do my very best and walk through whatever doors opened in front of me.
Now, there’s a lot of privilege, luck, and opportunity in Path #2. I get that. And it’s not to say that Path #1 is wrong at all.
There are many times when I wonder if I’m being ambitious enough. I’ll find myself comparing my role to others. I’ll see someone got a new job and think, “Why didn’t I get that job.” Or I’ll see someone share an awesome new thing and think, “Why don’t I have anything awesome to share.”
And in doing so, I lose perspective.
I’m not sure if this is something you struggle with, too. If it is, I just want to say …
You are famous.
You do great work, you are true to yourself, you make things happen.
You are famous to your teammates who respect you and love you and cherish you.
You are famous to your family and your friends.
You are famous to me.
Fame is not a narrowly-defined feeling that only superstars get to access. Fame is for everyone. Think of the people who are famous to you — they’re not all Beyonce, they’re not all Thor.
If you’re feeling like you need to be more, to do more …
Because you already are.
You’re enough, and you’re famous!