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  • ekbray6

Imposter Syndrome

Remember when you were young and you thought you could be anything. I was just having this conversation with my work bestie today. I went through all the jobs I wanted as a kid: Professional Ice Skater (no skating experience), Paleontologist (Loved me some Dinos), Architect(Also loved construction equipment), Nobel Prize Winning Scientist (not just any old scientist), and finally I landed on English turned Drama teacher.

But the nice thing about that time, is I never doubted I could be any of those things. Now at 32, it's a lot harder to convince myself of these things.

It took a while to convince myself to put writer in my instagram bio, and even longer to put author. But I am, and so are you. Are we where we want to be? Maybe not yet, but it doesn't take away from our identity. I ran into this screen shot on instagram a while ago, and it struck me.

It is such a simple idea, but one we often forget.

We forget the first time we tried to play sports, or walk, or talk. It took us time, just like everything else. Sometimes, part of the problem is we look back with rose tinted glasses.

My fiance and I walk by little league practice almost every day with our dog, and more than once he comments about how he was so much better than those kids at their age. But, I highly doubt he was. Not because he isn't athletic and talented (and was giant for his age) but because when you are little you don't have a developed brian that allows you to compare yourself in the same way that you can now.

That develops later. Brains start thinking about others in middle school, high school, and that's when we see so many people give up on art, sports, school. They no longer have the blinders on, and now they doubt their skills.

But all skills must develop, and we have to give ourselves the grace we once had as children. We could have never hit the ball, and still we believed we belonged in the major leagues.

Now you are a writer. You are writing. Believe you are enough.

But why is it so east when writing to develop imposter syndrome?

1. You are reading other's final draft and your current draft. This one is especially hard for my students.

*Teaching tip: I give students practice drafts to work with as much as possible. I love when they work with each other's drafts as they are more often in similar "level" of writing skill, but I also like to give them mine. Sometimes I give them a first and last draft and we talk about the changes. Seeing others go through drafting helps them to see it as a part of growing.

2. You have read your draft a million times, and not only that, it lives rent free in your mind 24/7. Of course your twists no longer surprise you. Of course you plots feel predictable. You wrote them. And edited them. And edited them. And read them.

3. We have been taught (at least I was as a Western, Middle Class, White, Girl) that being humble is a good thing. It is ingrained in us (through society not any malice from the ones we love) that being humble is a virtue. We come to expect it of ourselves. Especially women! Somewhere along the line, however, this virtue turned into an anxious puddle of self doubt.

*Teaching Tip: Want to have students see this phenomenon so they can use it in their (or your) stories? Have them write pretend emails about different things. Typically women will use more ! and emojis to make sure they come across as friendly and humble.

4. Social media asks us all to put our best, most perfect, face out to the world. Be it covered in filters, or good lighting, we have begun to doubt that other people struggle, make mistakes, or work at some of these ideas.

5. We wait for external validation. We feel like if we don't have one of the big 5 publishers knocking down our door, we aren't a real writer. There are lots of writers that never publish who are great writers. There are some self published people who make their living being authors, but have never had any interest from the big names. Now hybrid publishing is become more of a thing, and still it shouldn't be up to someone else to tell you, you are an author or a writer. You can tell yourself that. Maybe Miley Cyrus can add a line about telling ourselves we are good writers in her next big hit.

6. We feel isolated and alone. We keep our writing far away from others in order to keep it safe from judgement, but that also keeps us from saying we are writers. When you say, I'm an author, generally people want to see what you have written. If you won't show them, you won't announce yourself as a writer. So announce it to the world.

So now we know why we feel it, but what can we do about it.

Chip away at it everyday. Treat every project as a work in progress, including yourself. You have the chance to grow everyday. Take it!

But if you don't (write every day, have a million followers, get the book deal) that doesn't mean you aren't still a writer/author. Taking a step back or a slow step forward means you are still on a journey and learning.

The only thing to fear is not moving at all. Go forth and write.

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