Imposters Anonymous

The name of the psychology journal slips my mind, but I’ve read that Imposter Syndrome is especially common in women and people of color. Trying to overcome this as both a woman and Black, I began to imagine the most unremarkable white men I knew who, despite their utter lack of talent and ability, considered themselves the smartest and greatest (I’m looking at you Tr*mp). Despite my many attempts to channel their misplaced confidence, I remained a Black woman who is brilliant, but unable to reconcile this fact because of fear. This has had a long-lasting, negative effect on my life and choices. It’s been two years since I’ve published anything on this site and I’d like to say that I’m both stunned and disappointed that I allowed so much time to pass, but I’m not. I’d like to say that the world of academia was so demanding that time allotted to working on my craft became sparse, but that would be an excuse. I’d like to say that even despite the long break, I always had the intention of getting back to it, but that would be a lie. The truth is my unplanned hiatus was something that is quite habitual for me, peak Bianca if you will. Jack of all trades, master of none, that’s me. But please don’t be mistaken, it’s not that I lack the adeptness to master the one form of art that has given me great solace and satisfaction, far from it. In fact, ya girl is talented (like…. af), but ya girl is also a punk. I’m afraid of truly applying myself and riding the gentle waves of mediocrity has been relatively comfortable for me.

All throughout school and pretty much any job I’ve had, the bare minimum has been applied. I’ve harnessed enough effort to con teachers, bosses and peers into believing I’m great, but I’ve never actually given myself the chance to showcase just how wonderful I knew I could be (partly because I wasn’t sure if I believed it myself). If I possessed the gall to be great and people found out, they’d always expect that out of me and what if I’m unable to deliver? What if I’m a fluke, a fraud? I never wanted to find out. Fear of those questions being answered in an unfavorable outcome, finding out I’m not as good as I think I am has stopped me from acting time and time again. Anticipating rejection runs so deeply in me that I never completed applications to the schools I truly wanted to attend. I never applied to scholarships that I desperately needed; I never submitted think-pieces to publications (just to see a similar piece published weeks later—gut punch). So, it should come as no surprise that when this blog, this tiny little platform that I made as an impulse started to pick up steam (I ain’t think y’all would really read it) and actually gave this nobody ass girl from Kansas a voice, I panicked and ran, per usual.

Conveniently enough for me, around the time I had subconsciously given up the craft that I had only began to take seriously, I was also moving. Returning back to school to pursue my Masters (no shade, but at a school I knew I would be admitted to), I was leaving the Midwest, the place I had called home all of my life for the sunny West. In the midst of a major, life altering event, one that should have absolutely been documented, I disappeared. I took myself completely offline to hide and avoid any type of accountability. On occasion when I was asked about the blog or content creation in general, I reached for my favorite excuse: “I’m just so busy with school.” Ol reliable. Granted, there was some truth in that statement, but not enough to keep me from writing. I was living with Imposter Syndrome and nothing could force me to shed my blanket of ordinariness—that is until I moved to California.

Life in Cali intensified my battle with self-doubt. A question posed by pre-MAGA Kanye never left my mind: “man, these niggas that much better than me?” Daily this question ate away at me as peers in my cohort were praised and rewarded with accolades. My ideas weren’t getting the attention that I thought they deserved. It felt like no one was too interested in black topics. I watched as people with ideas that I deemed subpar and unimaginative move forward in life. I felt like an outsider, like I didn’t belong anywhere, and I became overwhelmed with depression and bitterness. Initially I questioned why ideas and projects complied of such normalcy were being hyped. Then, I realized that that question need not be entertained. It was none of my business why others were doing or receiving any of the things they were doing and receiving, regardless of my perceived quality of the art. I finally realized I wasn’t mad at others for dreaming and doing, but more so at my own inability to do so. The real question that needed to be addressed was twofold. First, why was I being such a hater? Well, that one was easy to answer—insecurity. Me having such minute faith in myself made me feel like I needed the validation from others, from my superiors in order to perceive my own work as good enough to continue with. That then manifested as me being upset at others. Real cornball shit I know, but I’m supposed to be candid, right? Now the next question, that one is a bit more difficult to answer as I’m still working it out. Even as I write this I’m going back and forth about the quality of this blog, should I even relaunch, and who even gives a damn, but essentially the query at hand is how can I overcome my distrust of self when it is so imbedded, so a part of my identity?

The answer? Exhaustion from the self-loathing and surprisingly, clichés. I used to think daily mantras and the whole “what you think is your reality” was a bunch of hippy bullshit but turns out it’s not. Shedding myself of doubt was is so challenging because I’ve been extremely critical of myself for years. Self-reflection and being honest with yourself are noble characteristics, but tearing yourself down? Not so much. I’m now learning a balance between reflecting on how I can be better, while simultaneously being kind to myself and reminding myself of the things that I already do well. I have post-it notes around my apartment to serve as reminders that my thoughts, good or bad, will manifest. I twerk sum’n in the mirror every morning as an attempt to appreciate and love my body and the skin I’m in. I journal when I’m feeling uncertain or skeptical to investigate those feelings rather than simply believing them.

These have all been good techniques to acquire love of self, but I’ve found that the best practice to rid myself of incapacitating doubt is to do things because I love doing them, not to be judged. And that’s why I started writing again, because I love it. I’ve written short stories, scripts all just for myself. Some are good, and some are really bad, but it’s okay because they’ll never see the light of day. The purpose was to get in the habit of writing without the expectation of being judged attached. And, as the writing began to flow and I saw that my creativity was no longer being stifled by my own mind, I got more comfortable with sharing it publicly again.

Now I do realize that placing work on a public platform is bound to garner judgment; however, that judgment (to a certain extent) is of no concern to me. I am no longer seeking validation from others, only a job well done from myself. That’s not to say that I don’t care if this or any other published piece doesn’t resonate with the audience. The whole point of this post is to share an experience, with the hope that maybe someone that is experiencing the same thing can identify with it. What I mean is, I am no longer seeking validation in the sense that the critique or criticism of others will determine my worth as a writer and person in general. I’m worthy because I say so. So, there it is. An honest confession from a recovering imposter.

5 thoughts on “Imposters Anonymous

  1. Alicia Reid says:

    I read this and re-read this. Wait! Someone is writing the letter to my 20ish year old self, I’ve should’ve written. Your girl put the P in Punk. I spent the later half of my 20’s well into my 40’s judging others. Of course to deflect the attention off self. That is until a life altering experience forced me to humble my judgemental self and stand in my truth. Reading this was like staring in the mirror at my 20ish self, holding her accountable for all the times she judged others and not be honest about her ish. Thank you @blackgirlcandidly for poetically and eloquently checking the ish out of a 50ish year old fraud. I now have the words for what has kept me from reaching my destiny.

    Liked by 1 person

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