Just the other day, my fellow blogger and author, SM Mitchell, asked me for my thoughts on impostor syndrome for a blog post.
This is the quote she included from yours truly:
“No critic can tell you how much is wrong with what I’ve written better than I can. It’s so hard for me to promote my own work, and I constantly wonder if it’s even worth it to go to the trouble of creating stuff if it’s never going to meet this unattainable standard I’ve set for myself.”
But that’s not all I said. I also sent her these gems.
“This feeling that I don’t really deserve to be complimented, and that there are people out there so much more deserving than me always lingers. As in, it never goes away. And it applies to basically everything I create. I mean I studied art, and I realise on some level I do have skill, but I still get all bashful when people compliment something I’ve created. But I experience it even worse when it comes to my writing.”
“As for good reviews, they floor me. Most of the time, I’m convinced the reviewers are only being nice. But for every 10 people who say something nice, I’ll latch on to the one who doesn’t, and that bad crit will feed me for weeks. It’s like gospel.”
Honest to goodness, I’m not saying any of this stuff to get attention. This is how I feel, and I’m simply trying to be open about it so that my fellow creative peeps don’t feel alone when self-doubt comes knocking on their doors. And it’s no wonder we feel this way when incredible people like Neil Gaiman, Maya Angelou, and Tom Hanks also experience/d impostor syndrome.
Now, unbeknownst to me, another fellow blogger and author has a very different perspective about my writing career than I do. On the very same day that SM and I were talking about my impostor syndrome for her blog, the admins on the Facebook writer’s group I belong to asked members to pick someone in the group and tell them what they were doing right. And the fabulous and talented J.R. Rainville said this. About me.
Yolandie Horak‘s methodical writing, revising, publishing, and marketing is engaging and inspiring.
On the same day I’d said I struggle to market, someone thought I was doing it right. On the same day I thought I was pretty much falling apart writing-wise, someone thought I was handling it methodically. When I thought nobody wanted to listen to me, someone thought I was engaging. In. Spi. Ring.
And I can’t even.
You see, folks, sometimes, we just need a little perspective. From where I’m standing in the dark, I can’t see beyond my own nose. In fact, when I’m standing in the dark, there’s a whole lot of navel gazing going on. Sometimes, all it takes is for another person in a similar situation to shine a torch into the shadows. And hey presto, maybe we aren’t as bad as we thought.
Look, I’d love to tell you that a few kind words from a friend ended my impostor syndrome forever. It didn’t. But for a moment, I had some perspective too. And days later, when another friend and writer needed encouragement, I was able to shine a torch into her darkness and help her see her own worth.
This thing is a cycle. It’s become my life mantra to make someone’s day whenever I can. Sometimes, the smallest words of encouragement make an enormous difference in someone’s world.
And if you need to hear it today, you’ve got this. Someone in your circle is looking at you and thinking, holy crap, look at them go! Someone is inspired by you.
I guess the takeaway here is this. If you can, make someone’s day. They probably need to hear it.