Beating Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is something that I have heard of often but seldom experienced. While perusing the #WritingCommunity on Twitter as I do on a daily basis now, I encounter this phrase often. It has led me to some serious self-reflection.

Have I ever had imposter syndrome? Perhaps yes but it has not been so prominent in my life that I could recall it with any certainty.

I see so many writers, both young and old, coming to terms with the idea (often their own) that they are not good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough to call themselves true writers. In my personal view, I believe that anyone who writes anything can call themselves a writer. So you write a blog? Writer. Short stories? Writer. Poems? Writer. Full-length novels? You betcha.

So what is the struggle here? It appears to be a fear of being discredited or insulted, largely on the internet from unknown peers. So here I am on my couch, an educator who has written one complete novel and started another, I am not published but I am a writer, and darn it I am not afraid to tell people! The literal worst scenario is that someone laughs at me and says that I do not meet their self-set definition of a writer. Ah, so there it is, a fear of not being accepted. Now fellow writer, think back to a time when you have felt accepted. Got it? Ok, what was it that gave you this feeling? Yes, the approval of others. Now I tell you, oh sufferers of imposter syndrome, you are looking to be accepted in the wrong places. Find your niche. I promise you that there are communities that will accept you, nurture your dreams, and share your goals. Here is the zinger though, you belong in that community, begin your relationships with a precedent of accomplishment. You don’t JUST write poetry. You are a lyrical gangster. You don’t JUST write short stories. You weave character, plot, and setting into an engrossing story using fewer words than most authors are capable of.

We do not JUST do anything. We do things. We accomplish things. I have learned this as a woman, mother, teacher, and writer. The first step of being credible and accepted is believing it yourself. I think that I learned this life lesson fairly early in life and have applied it to all things I set myself to. It has helped me tremendously.

When I began teaching I was 27 and was thrown in to a high school history classroom that had been vacated mid-year. I had never set foot in a classroom or taken an education-related college course. I was what you call a non-traditional teacher on a provisional license. On my first day, I walked into the classroom with the mindset of well I am the adult in the room and I have been hired to teach so I guess I’m a teacher, and guess what? I never looked back from that moment. A semester later, my principal called me into his office. He had some feedback on things I could work on but overall his perception of me was positive. He said, “The best thing you ever did was walk in on day one and act like a teacher; not a sub, not a fill-in, just a teacher.” He was right. I didn’t “fake it” I just threw myself into my role and did the best I could, learning along the way. When I began writing I did the same. When I decided writing isn’t JUST a hobby, I threw myself in and learned as I went.

So without being too cliche and saying: believe in yourself; assert that you are what you are, and allow the hesitation of others to fall to the wayside.

Do not allow the self-set definitions of others to dictate your confidence or impede your ability. Hear that Millenials? You don’t need your neighbor teacher to believe you are a teacher if you were hired for that job. You don’t need a successful writer on twitter to believe you are a writer. You just need to write. You just need to teach. Your community will find you or you will find it and when you do, you better well act like you belong there or guess what, they will believe you don’t, even when you do.

So I leave you with this parting idea that I picked up from one Bridget Jones many years ago and have applied to my life as a sort of very effective mantra, say it with me:

“I am the intellectual equal of everyone else here.”

Published by ALNovelist

A mom, wife, educator, and fledgling author all rolled into one.

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