20 July 2015

mental health monday: impostor syndrome

Have you ever been in a place where it felt like every decision, every choice, every experience -- good and bad -- were rushing together and leading you to this exact moment that you are in right now?

That's me, today. 

Today. Oh, today. 

Today is a day I have spent, well, pretty much every day of my entire life for the past....23 years waiting for. Today, you see, is the day my book is published. I have my BFA in Creative Writing, but I started writing when I was in fifth grade. I was 10 when I first put that pen to paper, so today feels like two decades worth of waiting come to fruition.


My author copies arrived last week and it's possible that I pointed to the book and told BC "That's my name on the cover!" then promptly burst into tears. (I was also more than a little drunk since the books arrived the same day as my last day of work at my old job and BC and I had gone out for a celebration dinner, so that second beer might have been a contributing factor, too, LOL.)

Which brings me to my topic for today's Mental Health Monday: Impostor Syndrome.


Impostor Syndrome is a "psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with 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. Notably, impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women." It's not really considered a mental disorder per se, but I think it's still necessary to talk about and acknowledge.

Case in point: I tell people this book fell into my lap. Which, I mean, it sort of did. I queried the publisher about other topics and in my letter mentioned my hometown of Hudson and they jumped on that. But it's not like they came to me -- I did the work of approaching them. Or, I'll say that I got lucky having a contact at the Hudson Library & Historical Society who basically opened the door to the archives and said "Take what you need." But, I still had to collect the photos, organize the book, and reach out to residents in the community to get more photos to fill the book. 

Then, of course, there's the fact that this isn't a traditional book that I wrote. It's heavily pictorial, so I wrote the captions. There's not a lot of....words, I guess. So it feels weird and odd that this is my first book, a book that didn't require much writing and causes me to diminish it in a lot of ways as well. But there was so much research involved and while there's not a lot of copy, I still had to write what copy is there.

Impostor Syndrome shows up mostly in professional work environments, but when BC and I first started dating I know I felt it then, too. Here was this man who is so lovely and wonderful and our relationship felt like a long time coming so of course I spent the first, I dunno, six months convinced that there was no way this was going to last, I was undeserving of this level of personal happiness, he'd figure out I was a complete and total weirdo and decide this was a huge mistake, etc.

Speaking of professional impostor syndrome, today is also the first day of my new job. I'm taking a big leap into a new career path that takes me out of the library and uses my librarian skills in a different way.


I started working in libraries at 17 and starting in grad school up until, well, last Tuesday, I've spent my professional career working as a solo librarian in small libraries. I'm so so so excited about this new job and know that once I get in and get to work I'll, hopefully, excel at it but man am I having a bit of an identity crises and am convinced the company made a huge mistake in hiring me or that I'm going to get in there and have no clue what I'm doing (which, of course, I'm not. That's the point of a training period, but ugh, still).

Next Monday I have to give a presentation on my book and I swear to goddess, despite the fact that I spent a good six months researching my hometown, I seriously had a moment of, "OMG What am I supposed to talk about? I don't know anything at all about this topic!"

Impostor Syndrome. The struggle is real, yo.

Love from the ashes,
Lady Lazarus

5 comments:

  1. First, congratulations on your book! Super exciting and worth celebrating!

    I've had a few imposter moments in my life. For me, I felt more grounded once I worked through the feelings. You deserve this. You worked hard. Pinch yourself, and watch the fruits of your labor come to bloom!!

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  2. Oh yes. This. I do this all the time. I am pretty much certain I am a fraud in all I do, which seems odd since I am big on honesty and truth. lol.

    But the evidence is there my friend that you are and continue to be awesome! Congratulations!

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  3. Congrats on the book! That's wonderful!

    I'm the same way, mostly in my academic and professional life--so, basically any accomplishment I've ever had. I've gotten better, but I still have to work hard to remind myself that my accomplishments are MINE and that I worked hard for them.

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  4. Congratulations on your book - how very exciting! I can empathize with your internal fight about taking any sort of credit for your hard work; for me, I feel as though I need to apologize constantly just for breathing air and taking up space in the world. Why? I have no idea, but it is a big part of my personality and something I struggle with greatly as I work to build a happier, healthier life.

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  5. I'm a bit behind on reading posts, but I want to congratulate you again on your book! Way to go! I can totally relate to what you are feeling though, ugh. It feels horrible! I've had that feeling with marriage (it doesn't help that my first one failed), and with jobs (past career choices didn't work out and its hard for me to accept I'm good at this one). You are a rockstar girl, embrace it!

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