You’d have thought I would have beaten it into submission by now. And I mean seriously beaten it into submission, so that it’s left lying in a curled up ball on the ground, whimpering for me to stop, making a tearful promise never to return.
Yes, I’m talking about my good friend, and possibly yours too, Impostor Syndrome.
He likes to follow me around, and give me a little nudge in the back whenever I least expect it. I can actually be in the middle of celebrating a success when up he slopes up, gives me that nudge to remind me he’s still here, and then starts whispering his devious, twisted little lies in my ear.
And quite often I let him.
Sometimes having Impostor Syndrome around can be comforting. He doesn’t actually demand anything of me, to be honest, and if I listen to his lies long enough I can find myself wallowing in a comfortable slump of inaction. Collapsed in my chair and believing myself to be nowhere near as good at what I do as I originally believed is a great way of giving myself permission to shirk from the difficult tasks that lie ahead.
Because it’s hard work writing a novel. It’s like attempting to round up a pack of kittens and then expecting them to line up in formation.
It’s a little more difficult than that.
But I do it. Each and every time I am convinced this will be the time that I fail, and sometimes I do. And yet I have managed to write and publish thirteen (soon to be fourteen) novels.
Still Impostor Syndrome turns up and mocks me. Makes me feel inadequate. Has me believing that the work isn’t good enough, that really I am a failure. Of course I am. And it’s only a matter of time before everybody else realises that too.
Did you know there are five different types of Impostor Syndrome?
The Superwoman / Superman
The Natural Genius
It turns out I’m the Expert. I never really believe that I ever know enough. When I see that job advert, I have to tick every single box there is before I can even remotely start thinking about applying for it. I’m always looking at courses and training too. Earlier this week I spent far too much time on the Open University website browsing through all their courses and degrees. Obviously I looked at the MA in Creative Writing, but I also looked at The History of Science and Technology and Business Management.
And don’t ever please tell me that I’m an expert on something, or even that I am very knowledgeable. I’ll probably run a mile in the belief that I have to get away before you find me out for the fraud that I am.
I could be wrong, but I have the feeling that anyone involved in the creative fields is probably more prone to Impostor Syndrome than other areas of work. We sit alone for many hours a day working on something that nobody actually asked us to work on and then we have to go out and present it to the world at large for judgement.
That’s just crazy.
There are strategies for beating Impostor Syndrome.
I think I only have the one.
And that is to keep stepping out of my comfort zone.
I have to do the things that I am scared of doing.
I have to show up, when all I want to do is hide.
I’m not saying that this banishes Impostor Syndrome, because it doesn’t.
But if I keep doing, and if I keep showing up, I stay in the groove.
I can turn my back on Impostor Syndrome, and I have the strength to resist his lies.
It’s never going to be easy.
But at least it’s achievable.
Take that, Impostor Syndrome! (Again)
Yes, that lovely donate button is back again.
As always, I am simply putting this here for you to make up your own mind. You never know, if you donate the cost of a cup of coffee to me it might even make you smile.
I know it will make me smile.
Whatever you decide, try and smile anyway.