Author career · Feature

The Bad Place: Imposter Syndrome

Why on earth do we torture ourselves with imposter syndrome? I’m going to be real, I have no idea what I had in mind way back when I volunteered to write about this topic. I should have written this then when I had it on my mind because now, it’s going to be a completely different post. Now I’m just mad.

I’m mad that imposter syndrome is a thing. I’m mad that we’re conditioned to not take pride in our work, to not acknowledge our worth, to not demand space, to not enjoy the successes that we earned. It irritates me more than I can put into words when I see writers on social media apologizing for showing up and making it known that their work is available to consume. It’s never cis white men apologizing, I’ll tell you that. White men take up most all of the space all of the time, most of these spaces they have no business being in (and oftentimes, they are leading those spaces!!!). Don’t get me started on anyone else, either. There are enough problematic authors out there. Don’t insult your journey by allowing yourself to believe you are a fraud. You are not.

Why else write your book and work so hard for publication if you are not going to put yourself out there and get that book read? I hate that so many of us don’t think that we are enough. That we don’t deserve to be here, calling ourselves accomplished writers if we haven’t done X, Y, and/or Z.

Just because we know how to use all of the letters in the alphabet, it doesn’t mean that all of them belong. The letters in my name are mine. That’s it. Not having the other letters doesn’t make me a fake. We all have letters that make up the sum of our journey. I’m sure someone smarter than me could have laid out this metaphor much better than I just did. But I tried, so I’m still a writer. Ha. And I’m not going to apologize for it even though it may need a revision for clarity. See how easy it is to just move on? To just keep going? To keep moving forward despite…

Debuted and now working on your sophomore novel? It wasn’t a fluke. Keep your head down, do your work, cash that paycheck which certainly doesn’t know what imposter syndrome is, and keep building your craft.

Didn’t make it onto the NYT List? More people don’t make it on there than do. It’s okay to want it. It’s also okay to be realistic and know your worth which reaches far beyond a top ten list. In fact, making it on the list may not change a whole lot or much anything for you outside of seeing that nice title on your books. Some writers never make it on the list and are far more successful on paper than those who do make the list.

Didn’t get invited onto a panel at a convention or conference? Well, first, can we backtrack to when you put yourself out there to be invited to such things? Oh wait, we can’t because you didn’t put yourself out there because you didn’t want to take up space. Huh. I have news for you. There will always be someone on a panel or in any vicinity really, that is smarter than you, more qualified than you, more successful than you, more, more, more. It doesn’t mean that you’re a fraud. It means you have more space to thrive in the successes on your path.

I love that everyone’s definition of success is different. But I want to take a minute to remind you to enjoy your cookies when you get them. Take in each moment, each success, no matter how big or small and revel in it. Especially, especially as POC, WOC, and, you know what. It’s Black History Month, so I’m just going to take a minute here to talk to my Black people. Especially my Queer Black people.

Don’t you ever for a second think that you are not enough. Let the others have the imposter syndrome. We know how hard we’ve had to work to get to where we are at. If you are writing, reading, and studying your craft, you are a writer and every success made in this industry is yours to accept. How dare they try to stifle us even more and explain our journey to our successes to us. Don’t you dare let anybody try to tell you that it was all luck. Sure, divine intervention certainly helps but it can’t work if you don’t do the work. You are doing it. You are on the path. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading an article on a blog about writing. So keep going. Never apologize for making yourself known. Make them remember your name.

Back to talking to everyone… rejection comes so often from so many different avenues in this industry, don’t self-reject. Don’t rob yourself of a celebration of your work. Don’t rob someone else of a story that could change their life. Write it. Share it. Be as confident as Eleanor, as bold as Tahani, as loud as Jason, as wise as Chidi, as resourceful as them all. If you need permission to embrace all that you are capable of and to let others embrace it too…now you have it.

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