I saw an image floating around Facebook in the past week with some words from Neil Gaiman on Impostor Syndrome. He was attending where he didn’t feel like he measured up, despite his fame and success. Then in conversation with Neil Armstrong, he found out he wasn’t alone.
So what does it say about Impostor Syndrome that it affects even a rockstar writer and the first man to walk on the moon?
Mostly, that it’s all bullshit.
I’ve been struggling hard with this lately in my own life. I feel like I’m faking it as a writer because between burnout and stress I haven’t been writing. Auditioning at an open call for a professional theater felt like I had no right to be there because I had nothing to put down for training. High school and a single college class with a professor whose name I’ve long since forgotten don’t really count.
This weekend, I’ll be attending my ten-year college reunion. Five years ago at reunion, I felt self-conscious because I’d worked retail since graduation. (Not that anyone was judging me except myself!) Now I have a day job that sounds impressive but is not any of the things I care about. Even in those moments of extreme competence at work, I feel like I’m faking.
Most of the time, I feel like I’m not a real adult, so this impending motherhood thing? People wished me a happy mother’s day yesterday. It’s like I’ve led everyone on, I’m pretending to be what I’m not. Which is fine in fiction, less so in real life.
And while I know Impostor Syndrome is all bullshit, that doesn’t change how I feel.