Thursday, August 7, 2014

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome:  Tightly linked to the twin fears of failure and success, impostor syndrome is at the heart of the fear of self-promotion. Those suffering from this common syndrome are afraid that others will find out that they don't, in fact, know what they are doing at work or school, or even in their daily lives. This fear, in turn, leads sufferers to downplay or even hide their achievements and avoid climbing the professional ladder. People with this syndrome also tend to obsess about their perceived weaknesses rather than celebrating their accomplishments.

Whenever I receive compliments, I feel this way:  Like a complete and utter fraud.  'Receive' is actually the wrong word here .  'Deflect' would be far more accurate.  Because no matter how sincere and well intentioned the complimenter, I will make things awkward and uncomfortable for them.  And probably make them regret their well intentioned words by shoving it back down their throats and making them choke on them.  Metaphorically speaking, of course.

My fear of failure is constantly doing battle with my fear of success.  Making marketing my writing nearly impossible.  Anything I do, or don't, makes me feel ashamed.  Not of my writing, but the attention that may come from attempting to promote it.  The guilt over feeling the need to have people read what I wrote seems selfish.  And narcissistic.

I've been through the cycle many times.  I psych myself up.  Everyone who has a business needs to market.  I'm only informing them I have something, not shoving it down their throats.  Unless it's a compliment of course.  And the killer...Why do I feel like this is perfectly okay and necessary for everyone else to do but me?  WHY?  

So I do what I always do.  

Then I quietly panic.  Because I know I'm headed for failure if I keep this up.  I know my fate is to be passed over and forgotten.  And I know I'm the only person to blame.  For sabotaging myself.  But I don't know what to do about it.

Will I do what I always do?


Joy Page Manuel said...

Marie, I know you've heard this a million times from me. But...I can TRULY relate. Perhaps not to the same degree that you've described, but I am definitely the same way. I'm not sure if you're already doing this, but one thing that has 'forced' me to self-promote, no matter how 'subtle', is by joining blogger groups. Actually, other than our PBAU, I'm really only active in another closed group. I feel inadequate in that one, since most of the women are midlifers (50 and above) and a LOT of them have been invited to publish at the Huffington Post (which is also on my bucket list). By virtue of being in these groups, it's a commitment to read and comment on each other's blogs. As we do that, aren't we in the process also promoting our work? It's a baby step, maybe sounds lame, but it might help.

Another thing I've forced myself to do is to ask myself what is it that I really REALLY want to get out of it. Sometimes, I wonder if I really don't want the attention or the popularity or the recognition, simply because I find myself stepping on brakes each time I feel like things are just about to speed up. I haven't arrived at an honest answer yet but it's worth asking...Do I really want this? Is this REALLY what I want? Where do I really want to go?

You have the gift, Marie. You're humorous, witty and have a unique experience to share. Whatever you decide, you have my support. It's not much, but I just wanted to help cheer you on. And let you know, you're not alone. xoxo

Cathy Tittle said...

Well, I'd love to say you are wrong and full of it Marie, but I've felt the same way about my art since I was a kid and have never pursued a career in art simply because I hated promoting myself. I've been painting for 50 years, and have gifted a lot of people with my art, but rarely sold any.

Having said that, I have been reading your writing for quite a while now and always come back eager to read more. You speak with a very unique voice, and I encourage you to step outside that comfort zone and take the step forward...see what's out there girl.

And I'll keep reading your work...because I know the good stuff when I read it. :D said...

As Joy and Cathy stated, Marie, this is a most common feeling (except among the true narcissists). It also has a corollary- I shouldn't have to promote XYZ, because if were truly good enough, others would do it for me with word of mouth, etc.


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