Imagine: You’ve written and published your first book. It’s out in the universe, available on Amazon – freaking Amazon, man – and you’re at a dinner party. Someone says to you “So, what do you do?” Is your answer:
A) I’m an author. I’ve just published my first book, actually.
B) Oh, um, well, I’m a ____, and I ____, and , [mumbles] oh, I wrote a book, so, yeah…”
Can you guess which one I said? Spoiler: It was B. If you asked me back then (a whopping seven years ago) why I didn’t get my brag on, I’d probably have mumbled something about it not really being a big deal, since I’d self-published it. In fact, that became my follow-up response. It sounded like this:
“Blah, blah, blah. Oh, and I wrote a book. But it’s not that big a deal, it’s self-published and anyone can do it, so whatever.”
Ugh, right? Are you cringing on my behalf? Thank you.
Flash forward a few years, and poof, this term appears in my peripheral. Imposter Syndrome. Right away, I think, hmm, this might be interesting. Not sure what Imposter Syndrome is? Here you go:
[A] psychological phenomenon, known as impostor syndrome, reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.
MELODY WILDING—THE MUSE
I read that and thought, “Yep. Bingo.” I had this feeling of, who am I to think I could write a book worth reading? And then comparing it against every book written in the history of the written word. I exaggerate… but not by much.
Granted, it didn’t stop me from writing nearly a dozen more books. Nor will it ever stop me. But… it’s always there. That little voice that hisses, who do you think you are?
Flash Forward Again…
A couple of years ago, I was asked to join a small panel of authors for a workshop at the New England Author’s Expo (Check this fun YouTube interview I did. Warning: NSFW). Before my insecurities could stop me, I said yes. Again, Imposter Syndrome thoughts dominated one side of my brain, but fortunately, my husband ruled the other. As usual, he gave me the best advice (and pep talk).
He reminded me of my actual accomplishments, the relatively short length of time it took to get to that point, and the fact that I knew what the hell I was talking about because I was speaking about my own experiences. He said, “Talk about what you know and don’t be afraid to not know the answer to something. If it’s out of your realm of experience, say so.”
As it happened, I did what he said, and I fell in love with public speaking (about this topic I adore). Crazy, right? Anyone who’s ever known me throughout my life would’ve said, no way. I lived in my happy, safe little bubble with no intentions of stepping out of it… until I did.
It wasn’t the applause (got it, thanks) or the laughs (appropriately timed, thanks). It was the girl in the second row, nodding her head and leaning forward to hear what I had to say. It was her, and every her or him out there who needs to hear what I’m saying so that they can pursue their dream.
(By the way, the “girl” is a grown woman & accomplished author herself, doing great things with her craft. Check her out HERE)
I’ve said it often, I’m contrary by nature. A being ruled by dueling emotions. One who must do the opposite of what’s expected at all times. Not a weird brag, just a fact. What’s more, I think many of us are like that. And I’ll bet all of us have that damnable little voice asking, Who do you think you are, at one time or another (usually when we least want to hear it). You just need another voice – a louder one – shouting to you that you’ve got this.
Imposter Syndrome – though not recognized as an actual medical condition – is a very real, often paralyzing emotional response to fear and insecurity. Are you being held back from striving toward your goal because of crippling self-doubt and insecurity? If so, I recommend reading the article, link HERE.
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Elsa Kurt is a multi-genre, traditionally & self-published author of over twenty-five books. She is also a speaker and creator of Path To Authorship, coaching for new and aspiring authors. Thanks to her fabulous ADHD, she also designs several apparel lines, took up roller skating, and is pressuring her long-suffering husband for a fourth dog. For more tips, insights, and observations on the author’s life, visit Elsa HERE. For all of Elsa’s links, visit HERE.