The Professional Impostor

I’m sad to say it no longer surprises me when many of my favorite authors – all of them incredibly smart, successful women who write damn good books – still struggle with Impostor Syndrome. It seems to be rampant, especially among us neurotic artist types, no matter how successful we get. I’m certainly no stranger to it.

But I realized something the other day from the oddest of sources.

I’ve been trying to find a new day job. (The husband got into a grad program all the way across the country.) Most of my applications have been dead ends.

I’m used to feeling inadequate in my art, but not in my professional life, especially since I now have a degree. Yet all of the jobs I’ve tried to apply for want more experience, more degrees, or more something than I’ve had.

Finally, I threw my hands in the air and yelled, “WHAT THE BLOODY HELL?! I’M NOT GOOD AT ANYTHING ANYMORE!”

And that’s when I realized it.

I am good at something. I have worked hard to get good at something.

I don’t have the years of experience in “real” jobs … because I’ve been throwing myself into writing. Hours and hours spent writing and editing and perfecting and agonizing and researching.

Spreadsheets. Folders. Documents.

Not to mention five multi-day conferences in the last three years, three of which I’ve actually presented at.

Think, for a moment, about how that much work (and research and time) would translate into any other job.

At a recent signing, Renee Ahdieh was asked what job she’d have if she wasn’t a writer. Her response? “I think I’d be trying to become a writer. Words are the last thing I think about at night and the first thing I think about in the morning.”

I sat up straight in my chair at that. That’s how she felt about her job.

The same way I felt about this thing I’d been feeling so impostery about.

Hmmm.

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