Impostor Syndrome

creative commons image by tiffany mack on flickr

I like putting names on things. Names help me make sense of my own head and various things outside my head and generally gives me a better sense of what’s going on. Names make connections and helps me tell my story about myself, knowing what’s what and why things happen.

Today the name I want to talk about is Impostor Syndrome.

I haven’t written in a couple of weeks. I wasn’t sure why but every time I tried I just… couldn’t. I have ideas out the wazoo, several unfinished posts I’m working on and I’ve made no progress on them at all. What’s going on? If I don’t start writing again eventually my pending folder will run out. I don’t want that to happen!

Then it hit me. Impostor Syndrome. I think I have some of that going on. And hey, and soon as that hits me, I’m writing! About Impostor Syndrome, of course, but still. Writing is writing.

Ok, maybe I could give that name some broad context. For those of you who haven’t heard of Imposter Syndrome, it’s basically when we don’t internalize our successes or accomplishments. Instead of thinking “I did a thing!” we think “A thing happened near me and it looks like I did it!”

Impostor Syndrome is actually not unusual. I’ve known lots of highly successful people who were otherwise totally mentally healthy and strong who contended with Impostor Syndrome. I’m not exactly a super successful person so it doesn’t hit me often, but apparently I have a success, and BAM! I’m convinced I’m an impostor and everyone is going to figure it out and I’ll be exposed as a fraud.

Specifically, the success is this blog here. I know I’m still really small in the bloggiverse, but with what I had been hoping for and what’s been going on, I’m doing really good. I think it really hit me a few weeks ago when I looked at my blog averages. I obsessively look at my stats, but I almost never take a step back to get a broader view of how I’m doing. What I learned is that my blog has REALLY expanded over the past year. I went from an average of 28 hits a day to an average of 167 hits a day. That’s just… wow. That’s so exciting!

There are other things, but I already fear I’m looking like I’m bragging (and honestly, I kinda am). So we’ll just suffice for now to say that my blog is doing more than I had thought would ever actually happen. It’s amazing and flattering and an honor and HOLY SHIT WHAT IF I CAN’T MAINTAIN IT?!

I find myself wondering why people read this. I’ve had people suggest really really good possible blog topics for me, but also one’s that are really challenging and will take a lot of work to have any hope of making it to a finished form. And YAY people contacting me and YAY ya’ll think that I am capable of tackling topics like that but OMG what if I can’t?

When I looked at my stats and emails I had a few days of pride, thinking that all the work I’ve put into this blog is paying off. Then I started wondering what, exactly, I had done to make it work. And then it just started to crumble. I’ve been really open about myself and my life situation on my blog, partly to avoid just that. I don’t want to lie to any of you or give a false impression of myself or anything like that. Yet I still wonder if you *really* knew, if you wouldn’t be reading so much.

Heck, who am I to be writing How Do I Adult, when I can barely adult myself? I mean, yes, I am careful to only write about what I know and to pull from other people’s expertise when I can and I put a whole lot of effort into making those posts thorough and detailed (sooo much work) but I am still amazed that so many of you like them.

So to counteract the Impostor thing, I’m going to get it all out. I know I have before. Everything I put will probably already be on this blog, sometimes in great detail, but I’m writing it again. Because I don’t want to be a fraud, even if it’s just a lie that Imposter Syndrome is telling me. I mean, Impostor Syndrome is a jerk. It’s all with the “you didn’t REALLY do that!” and that’s not nice at all. Impostor Syndrome is NOT my friend, and if you’ve ever made it’s acquaintance, it isn’t your friend either.

So here it is. I have no job. Ages ago I used to work, but I sacrificed a great deal of both my mental and my physical health to do it. I hope that eventually I will be able to both work and be healthy, but I’m not there yet. I haven’t driven in years – I am currently actively working on getting myself more mobile again, but I’m not there yet. I struggle, a lot, with maintaining friendships and relationships. Sure, I am in a long-term relationship (going on 10 years!) and I have friends and can get to know people, but it’s hard. REALLY hard. So hard.

I want to bring something meaningful to the world and it’s actually looking like I’m starting to do that, and it’s just this weird combination of completely wonderful and completely overwhelming.

So I guess this post is some combination of brag, confession, and thank you. A teeny bit of the bloggiverse or not, I’m doing well by my standards, and that’s awesome. And I’m a totally flawed human being-type-thing who struggles with mental illness and weird neurology and self esteem and that’s not so awesome. And you, all of you, you are awesome. I don’t always know why you read or like my blog, but every click, every read, every “like”, every comment, every share, all of it – it’s awesome. I’m so grateful. THANK YOU. I write, but you read, and it’s your reading that’s helped me keep going and given me ideas and pushed me to write even when sometimes it’s hard.

Also, Impostor Syndrome is a jerk. I’m going to try to not listen to it anymore. Anything that stops me from writing is nothing that I need.


Filed under personal

4 responses to “Impostor Syndrome

  1. merelyquirky

    Reblogged this on Merely Quirky and commented:
    Wow, thank goodness it’s not just me!

  2. I’m a totally flawed human being-type-thing who just happens to really enjoy your writing. 😉

  3. Eric Diamond

    Your value is in what you are as much as what you do. And the fact is, you are working. Hard. Perhaps you are not being paid for your work, but that will come. If you look at someone like Temple Grandin, her value is as a translator. She translates between people and farm animals. There is real value in that. Money value.

    You are a translate between people like me who have people in their lives who are people like you and desperately seek understanding from their perspective. Don’t underestimate the value of that. It is extremely valuable.

    I’ll let you in on a secret: all successful people deal with Imposter Syndrome. If they don’t, they are narcissists. I used to live with people who later became very well-known celebrities. One thing that is very hard for them to deal with is that while they have all these people who pay attention to them and heap praise on them, at heart they are still the same people they were before they became successful. Some can’t deal with it, and turn to drugs or alcohol or other risky behaviors (they crave some kind of “real” experience). The successful ones just enjoy and focus on the work. The attention is ephemeral…it comes and goes. The work is your legacy. It is what will remain.