Imposter Syndrome is a real rhymes-with-witch. It’s those keep-you-up-at-night, I’m-really-not-good-enough thoughts that leave you just waiting for that call or email or for that one person to tell you to leave.
‘We made a mistake here. You don’t belong.’
It keeps you on edge, and it keeps you doubting yourself and your abilities. Even if you got where you are because of your skill or because you deserve it, Imposter Syndrome will tell you otherwise. It’ll make you feel as if you’re way out of your depth, struggling to stay afloat because you shouldn’t be here anyway.
For me, Imposter Syndrome first reared its ugly head when I applied for the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. I finished my application for the MA over the Christmas of 2016, but it took me weeks to press send on that email. All I could think about was what if they said no? What if I wasn’t good enough?
I finally managed to press send on that application and now that we’re in November 2017, I can excitedly say that I’ve been on the MA since October. I got on! I was good enough, or so my acceptance said so. But I didn’t believe it when I first received that congratulations email, and I still don’t believe it now.
Before the MA, I studied at Bath Spa – I graduated with a BA in Creative Writing, having taken all the Writing for Young People modules that I could. So, on paper I had the experience, I had the know-how and I was worthy of a place on one of the most prestigious MAs in my field. Still… just because it works on paper doesn’t mean that I believe it. That’s what Imposter Syndrome does to you. It makes you doubt the world around you and it leaves you on edge, just waiting for someone to realise that you don’t belong there.
So every week, I attend my lectures and seminars with equal parts joy at my course, and dread that this’ll be the week that I am told to leave. It’s silly isn’t it… why can we not just enjoy something we have rightfully earned? The answer… Imposter Syndrome, the feeling that you’re not good enough and that you never will be.
On the MA this week, as with every week, I submitted some creative work for workshopping. My work, SCARS, was a first-person narrative dealing with grief, child-carers, and themes of hope. As we circled around the table from person-to-person, each giving their feedback, thoughts, and questions about my piece, my tutor commented that SCARS was ‘beautifully written.’
I have never been more shocked or dumbfounded in my life. My piece, mine, is beautifully written?! For a moment I thought that Janine had gotten confused, that she had read somebody else’s work and had accidentally put my name on it. But no… that was not what happened and to think like that was 1) insulting to Janine and her teaching ability, and 2) completely untrue. My work was beautifully written and upon hearing that feedback, I have never had a bigger Callen, you belong here/ you deserve this moment in my life.
To say that this feedback has given me a confidence boost is an understatement. Yes, I am still unsure, and I still find myself doubting myself and my work… but then I remember that I am capable, that I have been capable and that I belong where I am. My Imposter Syndrome has not completely gone – I now just view it as a screaming toddler demanding my attention. Attention that I don’t have to give it. Not at all. Instead, I’m going to give the MA all my attention until the day comes where I’ll arrive to class, feeling complete joy at my course and how I deserve to be there.
I do deserve to be on the MA, and whether you believe it or not – you got where you are because you deserve to be there too. Now, I know that’s easier for me to type then it is for you to believe (I get that, I really do) but it is true. If this week has taught me anything it’s this: don’t be afraid to believe in yourself.