Well that was a Debbie Downer.
Let’s be honest though, I knew it would say this.
I’m pretty sure I’ve talked about impostor syndrome in an earlier post but I can’t be bothered doing that thing where I look through all my old posts, become distracted by how crap they are, spend 4 hours trying to fix them, and hope no-one realises they aren’t any good.
And THAT little bit of irony, ladies and gentlemen, is Impostor Syndrome. According to the online test I took today, I have it.
Apparently it affects high achievers. (So of course none of us actually think we have this ‘syndrome’ because even calling ourselves high achievers would kind of be admitting that we are high achievers) What we think instead, is that actually we are ‘high deceivers’.
Well, that’s how it works for me anyway.
I mean sure, when someone tells me I am a good writer it makes me feel happy. Yay for me, I can word! Until I convince myself they are being cordial by way of social nicety.
Which all sounds rather self sabotaging, but it’s kind of innate.
As a blogger, I too read through my fair share of blogs. I note the author’s excellent sentence structure, their die-hard following, and the awards they have plastered down the sides of their site. I then often conclude that I should give up, because, let’s face it, I didn’t get a degree in journalism or English (shocking) and they have EARNED the right to be there (or be published).
Writing a blog is kind of like leaving your diary open on the desk and hoping like f*ck someone stumbles across it and discovers
you have serious issues, and would rather write about them than see a therapist you are in fact, quite clever and witty. Or at least you are pretending to be hoping they don’t find out the truth (*cough Impostor Syndrome cough*)
-As is the usual set up for a post- this got me thinking… Comparing yourself to others is something I write about a lot because it is so pervasive in the world around us. Obviously I compare my work to other writers. Nigel over there might compare himself to other artists, Donna might compare herself to other zoo keepers. It’s just what we do.
But without knowing the full story, we can never really know the accuracy of what looks to us like abundant success. And I believe this fuels Impostor Syndrome.
For example, I post pictures of myself doing yoga on Instagram (yes, I am just another white girl in Lululemon) However despite what a passerby sees, I am way less zen and namaste than I make out (and yes, I feel guilty.)
Right now I am typing this blog post whilst chewing on nicotine gum because it’s not cool to admit I miss smoking every.single.day. I was chewing it last time I went to yoga class. I drink about 8 cups of coffee a day. I’m no longer a vegetarian. My Lululemon is probably unwashed, and pilled in the crotch because my thighs still rub together, and I have anxiety about being the most unemployable person ever to finish university, which is what I am actually thinking about whilst holding that warrior pose.
I am terrified someone will find out I have been faking confidence this whole time.
I think this may partly explain why in some situations (like on this blog) I choose to overshare. It’s like knowing you are about to fall off a horse so instead of suffering the anxiety of waiting to fall, you just throw yourself off and get it over and done with. (#thatreallyhappened)
I envy the shit out of people who rock their confidence and ability. People who do their jobs knowing they can actually do their jobs.
I mean look, I do have abilities. I can get your screaming baby to sleep. I can make you laugh (albeit uncomfortably) I can write you a poem that makes you simultaneously moved and confused, and I can definitely tell you about the best positions to give birth (or have sex) in. But I haven’t yet found a job listing that calls for a poetic, yet witty doula (with options for flexitime or sex education presentations).
I’ll keep looking.
Csikszentmihályi (indeed a real name) talked about the process of ‘being in your flow’. (*suppresses period joke*) This is also known as being ‘in the zone.’ It’s that time where you fully enjoy doing your best work while at the same time contributing to something beyond yourself. Fears and ego melt away and you can be fully productive.
Finding that thing, that zone or flow, mitigates Impostor Syndrome drastically.
So how do we find it? And can we chew nicotine gum while we are doing it?
(and does sex count ?)
I do actually have an idea of what it is for me (poetic, yet witty doula being plan B)
So I have to learn to back myself. I have to give the imaginary finger to the people who don’t respect it. I have to put shitty comments, and past anxieties behind me. And maybe even swallow my pride for a while.
Because next time I take that test, I would like the score to be less “oh dear god” and more “damn, girl!”