Back in January I learned something new about myself. I learned that all my feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy and fear had an actual name to it- Imposter Syndrome. For those who are unfamiliar with this term, Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments or talents and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. When I first heard this term, I immediately knew this is what I’ve been dealing with for years and this explained so much about why I react to accomplishments and failures the way I do. This explains why when people compliment my writing or tell me they read my blog, I’m in disbelief and think “Really? You like my writing? You read my blog? But why? There are better writers/bloggers out there!” And it explains why when I fail, I feel like I’m finally being called out on my bullshit/lack of actual talent.
I was faced with a situation similar to this a few months back when a YouTuber I’ve been watching for years posted on Instagram that she was looking for an editor to edit the book she’s currently writing. When I saw this, I was immediately torn between applying and not applying. Though I have some experience with editing, I didn’t feel my experience would be good enough for a project like this. But after talking to my fiancée Shane, I decided to at least apply because then what I wouldn’t be faced with the dreaded what if. So I put my resume together, whipped up a quick cover letter, and sent the email to her. it took about two days, but I heard back from her and she told me I was one of her top three choices to be her editor! I remembering staring at my computer in disbelief and wondering why I was in her top three because I didn’t feel like I deserved that kind of recognition. But I emailed her back and we moved onto the next step, which was me editing a small snippet of her book. I spent an hour and a half working on my edit, overthinking it and worrying the whole time. It didn’t feel good enough to me, I wanted to keep working on it and keep making it better, but I knew I couldn’t keep pushing off sending it back to her. So I sent to her and then it took awhile for me to hear back because she was pregnant and had her baby during this time. When I finally did hear back from her, she told me she had decided to go with someone else whose rate and availability better matched what she was looking for… and immediately my thoughts were “See, you weren’t good enough to be her editor. You charged way too much for your services when you should have charged less. You don’t have the skills to edit and your writing isn’t that great either.” Shane came home from work to find me bawling my eyes open and I told him I was quitting writing. This was a sign that writing was done with me and that I needed to something else with my life. He asked me what else I would do and I told him I didn’t know because there is nothing else I’m passionate about or even remotely good at. To make a long story short, he basically talked to me until I told him I wouldn’t quit writing. He really is the most amazing partner I could ask for!
But this experience made my Imposter Syndrome flare up and made my mental health break a bit. I felt like a fraud. I felt like I was pretending to be this skilled writer who had all this experience and education behind them. Even though I truly am educated and have truly had writing experiences, I felt like I didn’t deserve any of them. Even this blog, which I have always done completely by myself, felt like something I didn’t deserve to have. Even though I’ve committed myself to this blog, sticking to my schedule and trying my hardest to always give my readers something interesting to read, I didn’t feel like I deserved to have anyone take time out of their day to read my thoughts. Overall, I just felt like I was pretending to be a good writer when I’m not.
I know there’s no truth to those thoughts when the evidence speaks against it. I know that not being picked to be her editor isn’t a full reflection on me because my cover letter probably made it seem like I had a lot on my plate and might not have had the open availability that she might have needed. And I’ve been told by people a lot wiser than me that I shouldn’t have lowered my rate just to get the job because I’m worth the rate I gave her. I know when people read my posts or comment, it’s because something I wrote sparked a response in them that they wanted to share. Overall, I know my Imposter Syndrome is a liar and that I shouldn’t listen to it… but it’s hard when I’m filled with so much anxiety and I suffer from low self-esteem.
Being a writer and struggling with Imposter Syndrome is probably one of the worst combinations to exist. As writers, we are constantly facing the possibility of rejection, whether it’s by a publisher, a beta reader, some random person on the Internet, etc. There are absolutely no guarantees with being a writer. As we’ve seen, even the biggest and most well-known writers can fall or have failures. We can spend eight hours a day writing and make little to no money. Self-publishing is a gamble. Overall, being a writer is one of the most uncertain career paths I could have ever chosen for myself! And with my struggles with Imposter Syndrome, it feels like I am constantly setting myself up for setbacks and breakdowns. Because failure and rejection hit me harder than they probably should and for me to snap out of my negative thoughts takes a lot. Honestly, struggling with Imposter Syndrome while being a writer is hard and somedays, it feels impossible to deal with. But here I am, trying to deal with and continue on.
Does anyone else struggle with Imposter Syndrome? How do you cope with it? Or what tips have you learned for managing it? Please let me know! I hope everyone has a great week. Stay positive!
Hi Michelle, Yes. Please stay positive. I certainly understand what you are dealing with, and it explains much or your self-doubt. What I can say is what I know–you are an extremely intelligent, creative, and talented young woman, and you are an excellent writer and editor. You also know, I never say something to you unless I mean it.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Chuck, your constant words of encouragement and positivity mean more to me than I can express. Thank you for always seeing the things in me that I don’t always see in myself. I feel incredibly lucky to have you in my corner!
I’m always surprised by the accomplished writers who struggle with Imposter Syndrome. I struggle with the self-doubt that comes with rejection. When that happens, the only cure is to go back to the writing. It works every time.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I agree! It’s insane how someone can accomplish so much and still feel like an imposter. But at least for me, it explains so much about why I am the way I am and why I find it so hard to praise myself or give myself credit when it’s due.
And yes, writing always seems to be the cure! Especially when I post about topics like this one and see other people relating to it or saying something positive. If even one person can relate to something I write about, I consider that a small victory and it makes my Imposter Syndrome a little less loud.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have the same experience with the small victory of even one reader reached.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I feel like as long as I keep that goal in mind, it’ll prevent me from losing sight of what’s really important 🙂
[…] to be shy. I’m just super introverted and find talking about myself really uncomfortable (explanation for why that is can be found here). So to have to be my own agent/publicist/hype person is hard to imagine. Also, I could name at […]
[…] not promoting it enough, if I don’t have enough experience, etc, and it’s making my Imposter Syndrome flare up hardcore. Have I thought about calling it quits? Yes I have. Am I going to quit? No […]
This is true. I’ve had this when I submitted small stories and poems to magazines and they either did not get back to me due to covid or I got rejections. And constantly refreshing and crossing off the list flared by up my imposter syndrome. But finally when I began to get acceptances I realized how unhealthy it was to get into that loop spiral. Now I know better.
Reading articles like this makes me happy I’m not the only one – imposter syndrome about having imposter syndrome, lol.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for sharing that with me. I spend so much time hesitating to submit anything because I’m afraid of being rejected and having my Imposter Syndrome flare up… which leads to nothing ever getting submitted!
And I’m glad I can let someone know they aren’t alone in their struggle with it. I’ve felt very alone it because I don’t feel like anyone in my life really understands it. So again, thank you for sharing this with me. It helps me not feel so alone in my struggles 🙂
LikeLiked by 1 person
[…] However, the uncomfortableness I’m feeling is border lining on anxiety and is also making my Imposter Syndrome start to slowly creep up on me again. And if you’ve ever dealt with Imposter Syndrome, you […]