Imposter syndrome comes in many flavours. Mine is to want to become someone I don’t want to become.
When I first started to write with the intention of publishing, my biggest accomplishment was that I moved past my inhibitions and fears and I decided to put myself out there. I was so excited about the fact that I am writing that nothing could stop me. I was just writing and writing, not thinking at all.
It was a blissful state of creation without anything holding me back. In fairness, I was so new to this that I had no idea that there could be anything in this world that could ever make me stop. And for that, there wasn’t.
Then after a while, after my initial success, my first imposter syndrome showed up. And it stopped me dead in my tracks. I had no idea that my own mind was that creative — in a negative way — that it could come up with all those nasty thoughts that I found in myself. It was telling me that I am useless, that my writing is subpar, that my talent is non-existent. And it was trying to stop me. It almost did. I almost did stop myself. But I somehow struggled through it, keeping in mind how amazing it felt to be writing and getting feedback from my readers. I won. And in a short while, I was back to writing with full force.
I started to notice a pattern with my imposter syndrome. It didn’t arrive when I was writing something bad or when my success came to a halt. No. When I was at my lowest point, my persistence always kicked me through the rough patches.
My imposter syndrome came when I was at my highest peaks. When I was soaring, and I was succeeding more than ever before.
When I first started to write I had no other expectations than to finally publish and to see what happens, to see how the world takes me. And I received so many amazing feedback, that it kept me going for weeks and months.
I didn’t expect myself to get better, I was getting better as a by-product of writing.
I didn’t want to become successful or earn money, I just wanted to write and finally tell my story as it was too big to keep it inside me.
I did achieve some success and I was able to earn some (and then some) money with it. I got to a point — and this was the biggest success — when writing has become a part of my days, like never before.
That was the most I expected.
And then something happened recently.
For 10 months I have been writing each and every day, sharing my life and thoughts with my readers. And slowly I started to build up an expectation towards myself that started to hinder my creative process.
I got to a point where I considered myself mildly successful and I thought that my readers are already used to a certain quality from me. I am proud that I started to write. I am also proud that my pieces get enough traction on their own. I believe that I am delivering value and quality to whoever reads me.
But it started to become a burden.
I started to lose my sense of self, as I thought that I should be already a lot better. I started to ditch topics that interest me, for I thought that they were not at all interesting. I started to question every single paragraph I have written because all I could see was faults and missing points.
I was putting myself down for whatever I wrote — telling myself that it’s not enough. Convincing myself that I am not good enough compared to where I should be.
I surrounded myself with writers who are more successful than I am, and probably more successful than I will ever be — and it started to undermine my own self-esteem. Why am I even doing it? Who cares about my advice? Who wants to read about my experiences? I am no better than anyone so what makes me entitled to write for them?
I started to lose myself in the process of trying to become like someone I am not supposed to be. I started to give up on my dream to pursue a dream that wasn’t even mine, to begin with.
See, dreams are not about progress. Progress is great and it’s necessary too. As writers we are not something static, we are evolving organically and we are improving day after day, word after word. To have dreams is paramount, as the dreams you have are the visions that will make you keep going — through thick and thin.
But dreams need to be crafted carefully. They can be big and scary and seemingly impossible — but they shouldn’t be about a ‘you’ that is not really you.
I am surrounded by writers who are writing about non-fiction, mainly self-help — and I admire them for it. I think they are amazing and talented, and I can learn a lot from them. But being one of them makes me question whether I set the right goal. Maybe I should write more self-help. Maybe I should write more about relationships. Maybe I should try out the recipe for viral success. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.
I can’t get myself to start it — either of it. Because it doesn’t feel like me. I love productivity hacks, but I can’t get myself to write about another one. I think relationship advice is great and necessary, but I feel like a fraud writing about how to keep the love going when I clearly failed. I think morning routines, healthy habits and ancient wisdom is brilliant — but I don’t want to write about them, I simply don’t care enough.
I want to write about writing — yet among a lot of more accomplished writers yet again, I feel it wouldn’t be authentic coming from me of all people.
I feel I have come too far now to fail. No, I am not a bestselling author, I don’t have millions of followers, I don’t make a 6-figure salary off writing either. But I am doing quite well — considering I have just started less than a year ago. And this makes me question myself even more.
I got this far and now I have a responsibility towards myself, towards my readers. I need to keep the momentum. I need to keep going and I need to keep growing. And these expectations are holding me back.
I need to get back to a state where I feel that I can write about anything as long as I am delivering value in a quality way — because that’s what makes me happy.
I need to stop comparing myself to anyone else because our journeys and lives are different and it’s impossible to walk the same path — and we shouldn’t.
I need to stop altering my dreams just because I had a glimpse of others’ different success stories. They are not me and I am not them. I can admire them, and I can be one of them without wanting to become like them.
It is more important to keep my own integrity and pursue my own dream than to meet a checklist that I scrambled together on a whim — because I like shiny new things way too much.
I need to stop being a perfectionist and I have to keep pursuing my dream accepting that I am perfectly imperfect, just like everyone else.
And I need to let go of the idea of success — because it is stopping me from trying and failing, as I made myself believe that I cannot fail anymore.
We are human. We are imperfect. We fail and we learn. We dream and we adapt. But we shouldn’t adapt to achieving a dream that is not even ours in the first place.
Stick to your own dreams and get there in your own pace.
Don’t let anyone hold you back. Especially not yourself.
- Kick Your Imposter Syndrome to the Curb
- Are You Qualified Enough to Write?
- You Are a “Good Enough” Writer