ROW80 and Impostor Syndrome

I mentioned in my last check-in post that I suffer from impostor syndrome.  Here’s a brief definition taken  from Wikipedia:

“The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is 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.”  Impostor Syndrome

Despite my drive to make straight A’s and get my teachers’ approval, I still am not convinced that I am deserving of the success I have.  A friend in graduate school described a person to me: smart, multi-lingual, personable, knowledgeable about art, music, history, and literature, a good conversationalist, and so on.  When I told him that I wanted to meet this person, as she sounded very interesting, he told me he was describing me.  Even today, my response is, “Nope, no way.  Me, I’m barely holding on by the skin of my teeth, and it’s a miracle I’ve gotten through school, kept a job, have friends that seem to like me, and children who seem to think I’m okay.”  It took over fifteen years before I stopped worrying that my husband would leave when he found out what a failure I really was. Now I think he’s just a masochist, plain and simple.

Well, I’m here to say I’m tired of feeling like this; it has kept from doing so many things, from making new friends to contemplating different jobs.  I don’t know if I’m any good at all at what I want to do, but I’m going to try anyway.  Academia has not fulfilled me, but only made me feel more insecure.  How much more insecure can writing make me feel?  So, I’m tweaking my goals.  Yeah, I know, we’re nearly into December, but hey, it’s ROW80 and I can tweak if I want to 🙂

I bought my own domain a few months back, but have been too scared to take the step; I’m also afraid of the learning curve, but to be honest, I usually do okay with tech things.  I think that as long as it all looked amateurish I felt safe, as though I could always claim it was a whim or just dabbling. Well, today ends that.  I’m going to work hard on the new domain.  Some of it may go quickly, but some things may make the blogs look like construction zones for a few weeks. I have been wanting to get some real fonts on the blogs; I am a printer’s daughter and the font on the free WP sites is TERRIBLE.  I want to get the pages figured out and laid out nicely.  I want to give it a real shot.  I may fail, but I will fail in style.  So, new writing goals:

1. Move to the new domain.
2. Make both Leavekeeping and Lapidary Prose look a lot better than they do now.
3. Figure out my themes and schedules: Leavekeeping is turning into a personal blog as well as a ROW80 check-in; Lapidary Prose is a mix of personal and research/history, but I need to see where I want to go.
4. Write about 10-20 posts to figure out what I’m doing.
5. Post some of the 10-20 and trash the ones that don’t work.

Health:  I lost half a pound  this past week and a half. Not great, but hey, it was Thanksgiving.

Exercise: I haven’t moved into much harder exercise yet, but  I am walking more purposefully, and taking the steps at work–even to the fifth floor, and feeling it.

Family:  Fail. Tired,  and being selfish. I did talk to my dad last night briefly.  I also have been helping my husband more around the house.  He has been doing most of the tasks since I started doing ROW80, lord love him, but I’ve been able to do more, since I can think and fold laundry, muse and load the dishwasher.  Ah, menial tasks!

Friends: In my worst failing, I withdraw from friends when I need them the most.

Writing: In addition to figuring out the new goals above, I’ve been working on the craft.  I started briefly with outlining my stories, which showed me gaping holes in  the conflicts, needs and desires of some of the characters.  It’s good to know where to start, and I have purchased several craft books that have been recommended by fellow ROWers.  The academic writing is coming along well–it really is my comfort zone.

Day Job: More applications, and a nibble from one employer.  Wish me luck!

A productive last day to all our NaNoers; a very lovely start to December for you all. As always, please go encourage the rest of the ROWers here.

14 thoughts on “ROW80 and Impostor Syndrome”

  1. Okay.. so when reading your post, I instantly heard this parody of Cyndi Lauper’s “It’s My Party” play in my head. It went something like this:

    It’s my ROW and I can tweak if I want to
    Tweak if I want to
    Tweak if I want to
    You would tweak to if it happened to you

    *cough* LOL. Uhm. Yeah. I’m weird. Sorry. I know those goals feel scary but I know you can do it. Listen you’re not a failure or an impostor. We are own worst critic. Head up. You got this. Keep it going.

    1. Thanks for the laugh, Ryan. And, while you may be weird 😉 , you have a lot of company around here. And thank you for the encouragement. I am going to work on tuning that worst critic part of me out.

  2. @ Ryan…too funny! Love it!


    You’re doing great! Don’t let that imposter syndrome grab hold of you anymore. Kick it’s arse…oops…Pardon my Saxon – yet again. ;}

  3. Goals were made to be tweaked! They aren’t rules after all!

    I love how honest you are being in these posts and I hope it helps you grow in confidence. We all have insecurities and they do get in the way but acknowledging this makes you one step closer to stopping them getting in your way.

    I wish you every luck with all your goals 🙂

  4. Elizabeth, I can’t say for sure what about academia fosters that sense of feeling like an imposter–but I understand where you’re coming from. My undergraduate years were filled with similar anguishes, the absolute conviction that I would be found out as a fraud.

    Finally, I just adopted a position, “I’m doing this for the money; no more, no less.” That allowed me to get through a couple years of grad school before even that attitude felt hollow. It actually wasn’t until I decided I wanted to put my effort into something that I truly loved, that I would sacrifice for, that I would acknowledge my shortcomings, and claim the victories of my own by clawing my way up to the echelons of the knowledgeable that I stopped feeling like a fraud.

    The feeling may never go away completely, but I think taking the steps that you are to learn, on your own, will help blunt them. Or, at the least, have something tangible for you to point as an accomplishment.

    Good luck!!

    1. Tracy, I think you’ve described the problem exactly. Academia likes to be mysterious about how it works, what great mysteries with which it imbues the supplicant, and all that hoo-rah. However, what is behind a lot of that is wanting to pull up the ladder behind one. “I had to suffer to get here, so now you have to as well. I got no moral support, so neither will you.” Horse-hockey.

      I will do some of the writing that I have been doing, because I want to do it, not because I have to do it. That feeling is incredibly freeing. Thank you for stopping by, and for the encouragement.

  5. Wishing you luck with job and new sites. I’ve been chicken about making changes, too, so I’ll be keeping tabs on how you manage. (I know, still being chicken by observing rather than doing).

    Your story really hit home. I’m my own worst critic. I will uplift so many people, but never myself. I have to change that. It’s not the way to walk the path of life. I don’t want my girls doing that to themselves, and if I don’t watch it, they’ll learn it from me whether I want them to or not.

    I always appreciate your willingness to share in a raw, emotional way. Now if we could only get together for a nice meal, dessert, and wine (magically without calories!). And I totally get withdrawing at the times you should reach out.


    1. Oh, wow, Tia, your comment about your girls really hit me. We are socialized to be caregivers, but not to take care of ourselves. And our children learn from us, often things we don’t realize we are teaching them. That’ll make me walk the talk, won’t it?

      Sometimes I feel like I let too much emotion show, so I’m glad to know that it isn’t too much. The calorie-free meal, dessert and wine, sounds wonderful; I often wish all of us weren’t quite so spread out. Thanks for the hugs!

  6. YES- congratulations on recognizing your syndrome and taking steps to overcome it! You are on the road to recovery, and any tempation to turn back will lessen as you progress. 🙂

    And good luck with finding your day job. Now that you know you are deserving, you’ll earn even more success. 🙂

    1. I appreciate your encouragement, C.M. I agree with you, recognition is so important. I look back and nearly feel sick at what a doormat I’ve been. But now–doormat no more! 🙂 Thanks for the good wishes.

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