Getting Over Imposter Syndrome

As I’ve already established here, I’ve been writing since I learned my ABC’s.

I’m not sure when but I remember very early on in elementary school, being taken out of class and tested repeatedly. The tests were so easy I’d finish them in record time and ace them all.

I remember in kindergarten, my mother being called to school over a picture I’d drawn in art period. It was a beach scene with a horizon and boats and people playing in the sand as the waves rolled in. As my teacher and my mother chatted, I sat quietly at my desk drawing something else… usually people or animals but I can’t remember, but what I do remember was the hearing the word, prodigy.

Such a peculiar word. I’d never heard it before and my attention immediately zeroed in on their conversation. I listened intently.

My teacher, Mrs. Anders, was telling my mother she wanted to recommend that I be moved up in school, one grade at least to start.

My mother refused. I remember my mother shaking her head and saying, “No, I don’t think so. I’ve heard that’s not good to move a child up because what if she fails?”

WHAT IF SHE FAILS?

I immediately felt sad. Why did my mother think I might fail? Why would that even cross her mind? I didn’t know what failing was up until that point, other than failing a grade level or something.

What did fail even mean?!

Even after Mrs. Anders had shown her my test scores and this drawing, my mother who was the greatest mommy ever said that? I listened as Mrs. Anders showed my mother the picture I’d drawn and pointed out how at five years old, I understood perspectives and how the people and the beach umbrellas in the forefront were larger than the boats on the horizon. She even compared my drawing to other children’s in order to help my mother see what she was trying to explain. Theirs were stick figures as most five years old’s normally draw.

Mommy and me

My mother was wonderful. She was the best mother in the world to me. She was loving, attentive, and we spent a good deal of time together. Even though she didn’t drive, she took me to ballet classes in a taxi cab in downtown Baltimore. She took me to ice skating lessons in Patterson Park. She was at all of my school functions and even came to many of my little league softball games and volunteered as a team mother at the concession stand… but as I remember myself sitting at that desk in kindergarten, I can never forget her saying, “But what if she fails?”

However, I did not stop drawing. I did not stop writing and getting straight A’s. I did not stop excelling at everything I enjoyed doing… but I always wondered if I would fail. I thought I can’t be this good at almost everything I love to do, even though I dedicated countless hours to those things. Even though my sole joy growing up was writing, reading and art.

I always wondered if what I was doing was good enough. No matter how many awards I won or how much success I had, I always hesitated, and questioned my ability to be the best me I could be. I remember always doubting my abilities but somehow, whatever I was working on, turned out well and often great.

Eventually I understood… she believed she was protecting me. That was after all her nature. It wasn’t necessarily about me failing as much as it was about how guilty she’d feel seeing me fail and thinking she had the power to keep that from happening.

Having been there as a mother, I completely understand it now.

Even in high school this carried on. I joined the choir and was asked to sing solos. I loved to sing. I believed I was a very good singer, otherwise why would they ask me to perform solos? It wasn’t until I sang in front of my entire school at an assembly that I truly believed in myself. I got a standing ovation. I wasn’t shy but I was an introvert and I shook like a leaf until the end of the first verse. I was terrified. After that, I sang anywhere and everywhere they asked me to… but deep inside I still felt that familiar doubt before every performance like… I’m not that good. What if they don’t like me this time?

Gradually over time and after publishing 8 books, working in sales and marketing for all these years writing ads and sales copy, and doing a lot of freelance work, my confidence grew and grew but when I made the decision to become a professional copywriter, I asked myself if I believed I could measure up. In true me fashion, I took online courses, read lots of books and wrote a LOT of copy as practice. Then one day I said to myself, “Self, you need to do some inside work and get right with all of this nonsense if you’re ever going to be the best copywriter you can possibly be.”

Now don’t get it twisted. I am one of the happiest, most upbeat and positive people you’ll ever meet. I despise drama, gossip or anything else that causes discord. I live simply and comfortably. I have a wonderful family and the greatest friends anyone could want. This whole point just proves that no matter how awesome your life is, when you’re alone with yourself, things will bubble up. Well, I decided to pop those bubbles once and for all.

I decided to try something different and the results have been tremendously helpful.

About a year ago, I believe I leveled up spiritually. For months, I dedicated time every day to meditation, self healing, and did a lot soul work. I also lost 60 pounds, started taking better care of myself and gradually over time, I allowed myself to let go of any and everything that had ever caused me to doubt myself. I stopped going into projects fearing I’d screw them up but rather believing the challenge would only make me better.

I was right.

Now don’t get me wrong, some degree of doubt is good because every job I take on is a learning experience. When someone reaches out to me to work on their project, I always ask myself if I’m up to the challenge that is involved in providing them with the best work I can produce before I respond. Writing to me isn’t all about making money. I’m leaving my mark. I’m using my God given abilities and talents to help someone. THAT is what is most important to me. Doing a great job and seeing in my client’s feedback that I’ve helped them is the greatest feeling ever.

In order to hone my skills, I’ve been working on Fiverr. I’ve been charging my clients far below professional rates simply to gain experience, train myself to meet deadlines and force myself to write in fields that I’ve never worked in before. It’s been a fantastic experience. So far, I’ve only had to turn down one job because of personal reasons. My hope is to build a client list here on my web site and quit my day job. It’s hard to work a day job when all you can think about is writing for clients and building your own business instead of working for someone else.

The best part of it all, besides the awesome reviews I’ve been getting?

Although I’ve had those nagging doubts that keep me grounded, not once have I thought, “But what if I fail?”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s