Impostor syndrome affects many
Are you familiar with the term “impostor syndrome?” It means that people who are high achievers feel less than worthy of their position—like they aren’t really that good and that people might find out that they aren’t so competent after all, and then their world will all come crumbling down.
Perceptions are usually accurate.
Now, in reality, people do see others pretty accurately, and people who experience “impostor syndrome” do just fine at what they do—most are very competent and are high achievers who truly deserve to be where they are. It’s just a matter of confidence. If they didn’t fulfill their roles well, the people around them would let them know.
People who experience “impostor syndrome” stand in sharp contrast to the office narcissists who think they know everything and can do everything you can but bigger, better, faster, more. In reality, the narcissists are hilariously incompetent, and everyone knows it but them. They are the office joke, even for years after they’re fired. Chances are that you are not one of those people. People who are that overconfident and full of themselves usually aren’t attracted to this blog.
Am I a writer? Impostor syndrome strikes.
Maybe you’ve had the “Who am I to be doing this?” kinds of thoughts. Maybe your confidence is in the basement and can’t find the elevator. I’ve had plenty of those “impostor syndrome” moments where my writing coaching program is concerned, and with my background of abuse, social incompetence, and overachievement, I’m sure you can understand why. I’ve wondered if I’m qualified. After all, when I started this, I hadn’t published any books. I had ghostwritten some, but do those “count?” I sat down to make a list, saying to myself, “All I’ve written besides that handful of books is…”
- a manual for college faculty who are grant seekers and grant recipients
- a few dozen grant proposals
- a guide to the Southwest and Navajo culture
- over 100 articles
- about 200 pieces of ad copy
- too many papers to count
- a survival guide for stay-at-home dads
- an electronic cookbook
- a year’s worth of lesson plans
- dozens of resumes and cover letters for clients
- a few brochures
- sales letters
- business cards
- an ebook about starting an in-home daycare
- an ebook for writers
- thousands of pages of online content
I’d done more than I realized.
“That’s ‘all’ I’ve written—ha. I guess that’s a decent amount.” I had also edited and proofread many books and too many academic and white papers to count. I’d even coached a few writers by then. I decided, “Hey, I guess I might be fairly well qualified to do this after all, right?” It helped me quiet the voice of impostor syndrome.
Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, would call this level of expertise “The Sherpa,” one who has been to the mountain and wants to help others do the same. I’ve been doing this full-time since 2009, and I say all of this to show that even with experience and capability, these worrisome thoughts still come. You can get past them when they come to you.
Gain confidence, and stop impostor syndrome.
Whenever you have one of those impostor syndrome moments, just take a deep breath, remind yourself of positive things people have said about you and your abilities, or take a look at your accomplishments. Then write a few more sentences.
Oh, yes, you’ll have your own impostor syndrome moments. I bet most of you have already had plenty of them. If not, don’t worry, they are coming. But now that you know it, and you know exactly how to handle it, you’ll kick those thoughts away in no time and get back to writing. Because, after all, writers write. Let’s get to it.