So, for my Wednesday Writing Wisdom post, I’m going to partially reblog something from 2016 with some new content because I still deal with this monster all the time.
What is this monster?
Not Marsie the Cat.
It’s Imposter Syndrome
How I Battle Imposter Syndrome
So, recently I was having a big period called, “I Suck At Everything.” It’s pretty much a variant of the dreaded Imposter Syndrome.
What is imposter syndrome? It’s when you feel like everyone is suddenly going to realize that you are:
- A big fraud.
- You suck
- Basically a big, sucky fraud that’s about to get called out by the YOU TRULY SUCK YOU LYING FRAUD PATROL WHO HAVE EXPRESSIONS LIKE THIS
And lots of amazing people have Imposter Syndrome. What kind of amazing people? People like Maya Angelo who has said,
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
So, yeah, Maya Angelou, THE Maya Angelou has it, which kind of only makes mine worse because I think, “Um… I’m not that cool. I’m not even worthy of having imposter syndrome.”
This is even though I logically know that I’ve been on the NYT bestseller list, some of my books were bestselling books in other languages and I’ve even received awards for writing and I get happy reader email. And even though I just looked up “Carrie Jones Quotes” and found all these things I said that someone put to pictures/photos.
(Yes, I did just google myself). My mom always used to google me, but she’s dead so I can’t rely on her to tell me things about myself – or all the other Carrie Joneses in the world – any more.
Anyways, here is the thing:
Logic does not matter when you have imposter syndrome.
Some people think imposter syndrome comes from feeling like you’re more important than you actually are. This might be true for others, but – ohmyfreakingword – seriously? I barely think I am doing anything halfway good enough to make this world a tiny bit better. This is so not my problem. It’s totally okay if it’s part of yours though.
My personal imposter syndrome is linked to my I DO NOT DO ENOUGH syndrome. For instance if I don’t make a TO DO LIST and strike things off each day, I will feel like I accomplished nothing all day. If I accomplish nothing all day, I hate myself, feel guilty, and go to bed depressed. So, I always try to make to do lists like this:
This visual representation, PLUS the advice of a friend on Facebook (Yes, they do exist), made me realize that I had to do the same thing with my imposter syndrome. I had to start collecting visual evidence to convince myself that I don’t completely suck.
I remind myself that I have been called out before and I have survived. As someone connected to our local, mostly volunteer fire department, I witness our community come together a lot. It is a beautiful and glorious thing to see firefighters leave their families, dinners, jobs and go out and help other people. I blogged about this. A large, pedantic man caught me off guard less than a week later and berated me for writing schmaltz. That schmaltz was my heart.
I was devastated. I was irate. I survived.
I try to remind myself of all the things I have survived, sleeping in a car, witnessing a terror attack, sleeping with the enemy, massive amounts of seizures, assault, in order to realize that people thinking I’m a fraud? Calling me out for sucking? It will hurt. It does hurt. But it can be overcome. Other people have overcome so much more.
Reminding myself of the bad things that I’ve survived isn’t something I like to do, because I don’t want those things to define me. I don’t let them define me. But sometimes, it’s good to realize that being a survivor is something I can be proud of.
Some people have imposter syndrome that comes from comparisons. They see someone else doing awesomely (In the book world, a prize, a list, an invitation to a conference) and think, “I suck because that is not me.”
Mine doesn’t work that way.
Mine is about fear not about envy. Mine is about the fear that I will be ridiculed for who I am and how I think. Mine is about the fear that my abilities are not enough. (Honestly, I can barely tie my shoes because my mechanical skills are so awful.) Mine is about being so poor that you don’t know how you’ll survive, about pain from being betrayed, about being hurt physically, about public ridicule because of your political views or decisions, about cognitive degeneration, about not fitting in because you grew up outside of what society’s norms are. My fear is about things that have already happened to me and I don’t want to happen again.
My imposter syndrome is about exposure even when I have already been exposed, which is why I am doing a podcast, “Dogs are Smarter Than People.” I am facing that fear.
My imposter syndrome is about a society where truth is never good enough because truth is not pretty enough. My imposter syndrome is about a society where people ridicule your heart, your kindness, your vulnerability and other people applaud that.
My imposter syndrome is about fear.
That’s all it is.
So I remind myself with my notebook that I have had joys, that I have had tiny, kind interactions, where I have touched other people’s stories and gotten to glimpse at their truths and their lives and how amazing is that? It is amazing.
My notebook is to remind me that no matter what happens in the future, I have had those moments, been blessed by them, and lucky. It’s to remind me that you can’t be an imposter when all you are doing is being yourself. Your self.
Go be yourself, people.
Go write your stories! The world needs to hear them.
Do Good Wednesday –
My Rotary Club and the Bar Harbor Kids Book Festival are co-sponsoring this Story Trail in Bar Harbor that we hope to get up and running this year. It’s a lot of building and planning. I’m a little freaked out about it, honestly, because I think I’m in charge.
It’s 16 story stations spread out around our town. Each station has a two-page picture book spread. You follow a map and read a book, which promotes literacy, being outside, and getting some exercise. Plus, it’s for kids, which is super cool. It requires a lot of planning, building, and consensus-building, but it’ll be worth it, right?
Tell this introvert that it’ll be worth it.
You should check out Rotary though.
We’re doing this project thanks to our club’s money from fundraising and a district grant, but what Rotary does is get community leaders from all around the world (1.2 million) together to take action and make positive change in the world and their local communities. This can be in big ways or small ways. All ways matter. This Wednesday maybe we can all think of tiny things we can do to help someone else or promote something awesome.