For the majority of my life, I remember feeling like, no matter what I did or achieved, I never quite deserved it. This was especially true when it came to sports and other activities. I participated in many as a kid–piano, ballet and tap, gymnastics, soccer, and of course, horse-back riding, but I never felt like I excelled at any one thing.
As I grew older, I dropped everything except horses and began to focus on barrel racing, specifically. But no matter how well I did, there was always a part of me that felt like I didn’t belong. Like I wasn’t a real barrel racer (whatever the hell that is!) I remember telling my mom this very sentiment and she said with irritation, “You are a real barrel racer. You’re competing right along side all these other girls, right?” It took me a while to see that she was right, but I still don’t think I completely got over my insecurities. Even when I won my hometown rodeo (circa 2003), I became convinced there had been a timer malfunction. Because how on earth could I actually win a rodeo? (even though I knew as soon as I came out of the gate it had been a smokin’ run).
It wasn’t until just a few years ago, I realized there was a name for what I’d so often felt: Imposter Syndrome.
According to Wikipedia, those suffering from Imposter Syndrome are “individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”
I was actually relieved to know there was a name for what I’d experienced nearly all my life. And that I wasn’t the only one.
Since becoming a writer, I’ve come to realize many other writers suffer from Imposter Syndrome as well. It’s completely understandable given the nature of the publishing industry. So many aspire to be published writers, but few can actually persist through the years and years it often takes to get there.
While working on my first book, I was in full-fledge Imposter Syndrome. I kept my writing a secret from most people for a long time, convinced they’d only laugh at me if I told them what I was doing. But something amazing began to unfold after I finally finished that first book and started on my second. I began to realize I wasn’t just an ‘aspiring writer’, but instead a real writer. I’d written a book. And I was writing more books. I began to believe I was worthy of being called a writer.
My confidence has only grown over the years and with each book I’ve written (I’m currently working on my fourth). No, none of my books have been published yet, but I’m learning to “trust the timing of my life”. I’m searching for a literary agent, and I have no doubt that if I keep writing, I will get one.
One thing that’s helped me overcome my Imposter Syndrome (as far as writing is concerned) is reading or posting positive quotes in a place where I regularly see them. For example, this one:
But I think just pushing through my insecurities and continuing to write has been the biggest help of all.
Sure, I still have moments where my doubts flare up, and I wonder who in the heck I think I am to believe I can be a published author. But fortunately, these moments are becoming fewer and farther in between.
With writing, it’s easy to become dependent others’ feedback. I’ve definitely fallen into this trap. And while feedback is crucial, it’s actually YOU, the writer, whose opinion matters the most. You have to learn to trust your instincts and your abilities.
Even if you have to remind yourself on a daily basis that YOU are a badass, do it.
Just keep going until one day, others will be looking at you as the one they aspire to be like.