Fighting the creative suffocation of imposter syndrome

Here is a recent class entry for a writing exercise titled, I realized I was not good at writing:

“Suddenly, I realized that I was a fraud. Although intricate ideas and captivating diction laced the lines of my writings, I never knew the right words to say in person. Complexities turned to simplicities and my lessons into questions. Would I not be, as a writer, able to produce impromptu prose on the spot? Is it not my thoughts? Am I not who I am? I wasted a year of my life writing thoughts that have no conscious ability to be spoken. I am stuck on a page, but the page is sub par. I am tired of believing that what I do is my own, a ‘gift,’ or my passion.”

Is there a difference between what you like to do and what you are good at? Must we always be good at something that we involve ourselves in to wear the title of it?

“Imposter syndrome involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments,” says a health line article.

Many individuals, as I do, experience imposter syndrome, which, in other terms, is the idea that one’s skills are not good enough to carry out what one is doing.

I believe, however, that imposter syndrome tracks along the lines of public affirmation when personal accomplishments and diligence should be reason enough to involve yourself in that particular craft.

Take artistic endeavors such as writing, painting or photography, for example. I enjoy writing, but am I really a “writer” unless I excel at what I write? If I did not have the “Opinion Writer” stamp of approval and casually wrote these pieces, unsurfaced and subjected to only my own eyes, could I still call myself a “writer?” What if I did not get paid for it?

Society has standardized that one must “live up to the name” of a vocation, hobby or activity. To call themselves a painter, their works shouldn’t shy far from those of Pablo Picasso or pieces hanging in an art museum. Photography should be visually pleasing and avant-garde in composition, not iPhone portraits of your friends at a summer barbeque.

So how do people fight the feeling of not being good enough for the title?

Allowing oneself to be opened up to judgment is key for fighting imposter syndrome.

Before The Asbury Review published my poetry, I always avoided mentioning that I wrote poetry when talking to people about what I write. Once I received a public deeming of relevance and sound material, I finally allowed myself to say, “Oh, and I write poetry.”

The idea is that even though I was only writing in private (and enjoying it!) and was, in the eyes of the public art sphere, “failing” at it, I was still a writer. Just as a person who only has a handful of followers on Spotify is a musician, and an individual who takes care of a minuscule flower garden behind their house is a gardener.

You do not have to be affirmed by the masses or have a natural and pristine gift to partake in something that you enjoy doing.

We, here at Asbury, all hold the title of students, yet some of us vigorously and effortlessly commit while others barely put in the effort to get a degree. There are variations to our abilities to be “students,” but we all still hold its title- and no one questions it.

Stop selling yourself short or limiting your mindset to the idea that your work is never good enough. Allowing yourself to realize that, in reality, the only individual who sees the inadequacies and moments of doubt is you.

Here is the last section of my writing exercise:

“The morning after, I stopped at work for a brief moment and sat in the corner of her office on a cushy gray chair, leg bouncing. I had just sworn off writing. After a brief conversation, it came up again.

‘Madi, you are such a good writer.’ She waved a folded copy of the university newspaper.

‘Thank you.’ I didn’t believe it.

As I danced down the steps, I realized that I wasn’t good at writing, but whoever was writing the pieces that people were seeing was good. I’d take their word for it. Maybe, with writing, I should think less of the moments of doubt, insecurities, and artistic dryness. They do not see the person I wish so desperately not to be. Maybe I am only a fraud to myself.”

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