writing advice

Do You Suffer from Imposter Syndrome?

My name is Renee, and I have Imposter Syndrome. It applies to a lot of areas in my life, but stands out the most when I discuss my writing.

While on vacation a few years ago, I was telling a friend that I had applied to be a judge for a book publishing competition. The conversation went something like this.

“I don’t know if I’m all that qualified,” I told her. “I mean, I have some experience in the publishing field, but I’m not an author.” She stared at me blankly.

“What do you mean by that? Have you not had things written and published?”

“Yes,” I said slowly. “I guess I mean that I’m not a published author, you know, novelist.”

“That doesn’t matter, Renee. You’ve written for a lot of publications. You’ve won awards. You’ve written more than one book. You ARE an author.”

After that conversation, I started to thinking about the term “Imposter Syndrome” that I hear a lot from entrepreneurs. I came across this article in Fast Company, which breaks down Imposter Syndrome into five different types. I won’t rehash the entire article here, but I encourage you to check it out, as it was pretty eye-opening and I have the feeling I’m not alone in feeling like an imposter. A psychologist broke down the syndrome into five different types: The Perfectionist, The Superwoman/Man, The Natural Genius, The Soloist and The Expert. When scanning the characteristics, I could see myself spread out across the board.

There are days I feel like an imposter simply in my daily life, and not only as a writer. I grew up without a lot of resources, moved around often with my family, and I didn’t have many cultural or worldly opportunities to travel. When I hear people around me discuss their most recent trip to Paris, I cringe inside because I can’t add to the discussion, having only traveled in the United States and to Mexico. I don’t have a graduate degree—I had to scrape and work my behind off all through my four years of undergraduate school.  I think having a background such as mine has affected my self confidence and leads me to feel like an imposter when it comes to my writing achievements, even if I have earned every single one. I don’t like to ask for help, though. I don’t like to admit when I don’t know how to do something. I take on too many things to make myself look like more of an achiever than I really am. These are all characteristics of “Imposter Syndrome.”

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By the way, I took the book judging gig and received a lovely note from the competition’s director after I turned in my scorecards, telling me she appreciated all the time I took in writing my reviews. She also invited me back to judge the competition again in the future. So I guess I was qualified to be a judge despite my initial doubts.

I’ve decided all I can do is resolve to reframe my way of thinking. I will make mistakes. I won’t always know all the answers. I will not overwhelm my calendar in order to look like “a more professional writer.” I’ve put in many years of writing, editing and revising. I’ve built relationships with clients on trust and a solid work ethic.

I will no longer listen to that voice inside my head that tells me I’m an imposter.

Now let’s hear from you! Do you ever suffer from “Imposter Syndrome” in your daily and work life? How do you get past it?

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