I just finished reading AFTERWORLDS by Scott Westerfeld.
I’ve read almost everything he’s written and loved it all. This book was no exception. And it taught me something along the way, peeled back a layer of me and said… LOOK! Think about this.
In Afterworlds, eighteen-year-old Darcy Patel’s book is being published. Insert me being slightly jealous, because I didn’t even know I wanted to write until I was 31. I wanted to hate her for reaching that goal so young. But I couldn’t. I liked her.
Why? Because she was me. We may be worlds apart in age, but we share the same experience. Like me, she’s waiting for edit notes, waiting to be published, waiting to become the author she hopes she can be. All the while feeling like a fraud, wondering when everyone will figure out she doesn’t belong with them.
Imposter syndrome. It’s a thing.
Wikipedia.org defines impostor syndrome as “a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”
Holy crud. This. And it applies to so many people. And now I can name what’s going on in my head. Not that it having a name stops the thoughts from crowding in my mind and taking over.
“Wow! Kathy! Look at your stories in this beautiful anthology!”
“Kathy! You’re getting a book published!”
And cue me hiding. Why did these things happen? Luck? Yup, a little. Mostly, people are being nice to me. And then I get a story rejected and BAM! See? I’m not good enough.
Yet logically, I know these thoughts are… WRONG-O! I do! Kinda.
My mind whispers that my book won’t be published. I made the whole thing up (then I re-read the e-mail and flail all over again). BUT… The publishers might change their minds. And when it is a book? When I hold that thing in my hand?
But will the feeling of being a fraud go away? I doubt it.
And that’s okay.
I’ll keep writing. Doing the best I can, constantly surprised when things like publishing happen. And I’ll enjoy the ride. And when I’m exposed for the fraud I am, no biggie. I already knew.
For all people out there with thoughts like these. It’s a thing. Embrace it. And KEEP DOING WHAT YOU DO! I’m here with you.