Expert in Imposter Syndrome by Eileen Magee
It's said, that you should smile—for you never know who's watching.It's true.You never know who's watching.Not just for your smile.
A few years ago, my darling emailed me this article (below).He thought it would interest me.He'd been watching.Me—the Writer—the Imposter.
"Not to be confused with false modesty, impostor syndrome is a psychological phenomenon of constantly feeling like you're faking it, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary."
We all do it (don't you?).Should someone compliment our work…the artist says—the brush slipped and muddied the colours here and I couldn't quite get the line of the horizon right there.The writer says, I'm no Charles Dickens/CS Lewis/JK Rowling; and the dressmaker/designer says—the pattern was simple, it's just a matter of sewing the pieces of material together, the musician, the carpenter, the potter…and on it goes.
Similarly, we can see a simpler form in everyday life too—a compliment about our dress, gets a response that's likely to suggest we've had it for ages, or it's a bit tight across the hips; and our hair…well, that needs washed, cut, or coloured. Why is it we can't take the compliment?
It's not that I, nor the other imposters (perhaps even you) live in a constant state of anxiousness (although some people do, but that's for very different reasons), it's more that we do our thing—because it makes us tick—be it illustrating, writing, dressmaking, etc. However, the minute we realise someone is watching, when someone passes praise, then we become the one who's watching…over our shoulder—to be caught out. On one hand, we think what we do is ordinary and assume everyone can do it, yet on the other hand, we know they can't—but we're not entirely sure we can either.
For our art to flourish, passion alone won't get us to where we want to be.We also need unwavering persistence."Showing up" the article calls it.Showing up to our desk, our easel, our threads—our muse.
Apparently, imposter syndrome is more evident in women.Men do suffer from it but it's women who are more often affected.
"But while it's easy to say, 'showing up' can be hard — particularly for women.We're raised to stand back and wait our turn, to be humble and know our place, and to look after everyone else's needs before our own".
You may think this an archaic view, but often, women do take the nurturer path naturally.This suggestion that more women than men suffer imposter syndrome, makes me feel a little better…it somewhat explains my intermittent appearances at, and frequent absences from my desk over the years.Although, surely, I score a prize, for consistent returns following long absences!It's not not that I've no passion or unwavering persistence…but like many others—you perhaps, the unwavering part of the deal appears to drift with the tide. My focus falls to all those distractions in life while my writing has mostly waits.If this happens to you, let's not berate ourselves too harshly because it's not always possible to ignore life's distractions and so often, our art (or our 'thing') gets put aside, coming in at second—if it's lucky (if you collate all the other distractions as one!).
I was surprised and a quite relieved to note in this and similar articles that Meryl Streep, amongst others, suffers from imposter syndrome!Who would've thought!
"While Gilbert's advice is worth cutting out and pasting on the fridge, 'showing up' is only part of the secret to success. Another part is surrounding ourselves with an individual or a group who will pick us up when we stumble.And to offer the same support in return."
"Most people who succeed — and succeed wildly — are the beneficiaries of a complex network of success. They have the right tools, resources, and people around them. In many cases, it's a matter of being in the right place at the right time and knowing the right people."
In my dabbling in and out of the writing world for a good many year, I've come to a time when I can paddle into the depths and give more focus to my writing—but still not to the degree I'd like—that would entail more sacrifice than I can give at this point in time. I have however, as mentioned in a previous blog, realised my genre in writing for children.Since finding my feet (again), I've dipped my toe further into the writing world.The one beyond the shallows of my own wading pool and, I've even removed my floaties.I can say, in response to the advice above, that as well as 'showing up', I'm also embracing the notion of surrounding myself with like-minded people.To that end, here I am, splashing about in what was previously considered, and occasionally still is, (by the Imposter me) out of my depth…writing blogs for a writer's website (Creative Kids Tales—CKT).I am, with my other involvements with CKT and connections like-minded people through social media, and various writer's organisations, for all intents and purposes, swimming amongst the right tools, resources, and a people.Whether this will see me succeed (mildly or wildly) is yet to be seen…and is still by and large down to me continuing to swim—unwaveringly and persistently—against the tide.
Demonstrating where I'm at in my attempts to thwart imposter syndrome, is not necessarily to convince anybody else of my mini-marvels—but more to convince myself!Although, I do hope it helps you realise that there's nothing too difficult about trying to overcome imposter syndrome, and there's certainly no magical cure.By all accounts, it's ongoing battle.A little bravery is all that's required, but that can be acquired—'simply' by ignoring that dickie-bird on your shoulder (not Peter or Paul, but imposter syndrome) and entering writing competitions, submitting to publishers, joining a critique group—CKT has one for members (which I highly recommend!), or indeed…writing a blog post! Dare I say…if I (a qualified expert/suffer of imposter syndrome) can, then you can too.
Without further ado, here's the link that started the discussion…Success-isn't-just-about-showing-up .If the article hits a chord with you and gives a sense of relief, it may pay to read more on the subject.I'm only introducing you to the phenomenon in case you've seen him in the shadows but aren't formerly acquainted.
There's always room to learn, to improve our skills and knowledge and in doing so, build a quiet confidence.
Humility and Imposter Syndrome are not one in the same.
We know too, that arrogance may bullishly defeat imposter syndrome, but it won't win friends or admirers.