Thursday, November 30, 2017

Imposter Syndrome, Anyone?


A Post By Jonathan

While I was on Facebook yesterday, avoiding writing this blog post for lack of a decent topic, a decent topic popped up right there in my news feed. I guess procrastination isn't always a bad thing!

Someone posted an article about Imposter Syndrome and, never having heard of it before, I clicked. Moments later, I found a name for a truth I have been living for much of my adult life:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud". The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. 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. Wikipedia

I can find countless examples of when I've felt this way, especially when it comes to my writing. I've won and placed highly in a couple of writing contests, but no matter the successes I've had I always seem to make excuses for it. The contest was too small or the prize wasn't a money prize so it wasn't as competitive/legitimate or it was just dumb luck. I always thought it was low self-esteem, but Imposter Syndrome seems to be more than that.

It's when there is an actual example of success that is outright dismissed by the individual who has achieved said success. It's an inability to recognize your own accomplishments. So you do achieve, but you refuse to accept the results as anything but a deception, a ruse. And sometime, very, very soon, you will be found out and the gig will be up.

I know why I feel this way. I was a horrible student in high school. More jock than academic. I didn't read my first real book until I was 18 years old. Most authors I hear about have been reading and writing stories since they were kids. But somewhere along the way, despite all my best efforts, I learned to write. Or maybe it's just a natural thing, I don't know.

Hopefully, soon I'll be able to feel like I'm not fooling everyone and just get on with my writing. Thoughts and feelings like this --the psychology of the craft-- tend to hold me back so often. and I know I'm not alone. Apparently 70% of people feel like frauds at some point in their lives.

I leave you with a related story by Neil Gaiman and a little bit of inspiration:



So do you feel like a fraud too? If so, leave your comments below!


    Carrie Beckort said...

    I've certainly feel like an impostor in many aspects of my life. I do agree that it's natural, especially for those who genuinely want to do a good job. The head knows it, but the difficult part is making the heart believe it :)

    Jonathan Schramm said...

    Tru dat, Carrie! Tru dat.

    Brenda St John Brown said...

    I just took a class offered by The Margie Lawson academy called Write Better Faster and it was all about the psychology of why we don't write as fast as we could and give in to distractions. A lot of it was based on personality-type tests like Meyers-Briggs, but it definitely spoke to Imposter Syndrome, as well. I'm not suddenly churning out 10K/day, but it has made me much more aware of when I'm letting myself get distracted by social media and why.

    Cheryl Oreglia said...

    Great post Jonathan! I never tell anyone I'm a writer, it's posted on my social media accounts, but I never actually tell people about this practice. I suppose it has to do with Imposter Syndrome? Fear of rejection? It does help to know others feel the same and I'm not the only one with these thoughts!

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