I recently read an article on the Instagram stories from Wit and Delight that made me think. “It was called “15 Things You Can Do Instead of Comparing Yourself to Others.” I won’t recap all that was in the article, but it’s definitely worth a read, especially if you are a writer or other artist who suffers from Imposter syndrome or doubts your talent or ability even a little bit.
Imposter syndrome is all about comparing yourself to others, and the way I usually deal with it is to unplug from social media. Social media is a soul-sucking activity that leads to comparing myself and my life to the inaccurate idea that everyone else is successful, beautiful, and happy–oh, and by the way, also has a book coming out!
Another way I deal with surround myself with nature by walking or hiking, gardening, or exercising outdoors in all kinds of weather. I also associate with like-minded writers as much as possible so we can share our struggles and our unique perspective on writing and reading. This year, however, covid has made socializing difficult.
Two ideas to stop this kind of harmful comparison appeared in this article, and I believe they will become staples in my way of thinking because they resonated with me and made me think of myself differently and allowed me to think of all I’ve done in a different way. Those ideas? To think of yourself as a child and to reflect on something you did that’s all yours.
When I look back on myself as a child, I remember images and feelings mostly: playing in the creek behind my house, riding my bike with the wind in my face, stepping on sun-softened tar on the road on a hot summer day. But I also remember playing dress-up and Barbie, and spending literally hours drawing. In other words, I had a vivid imagination. I did what was fun or brought me joy and I wasn’t afraid to follow where my imagination led.
I know the little girl I was would look at me now in awe. She would marvel that I spend every morning at my computer writing. She would be amazed that I’ve finished one manuscript and had the courage to re-imagine the story and make it completely new. She’d also be amazed that I’ve had the patience, stamina, and drive to learn everything I can about writing and to practice and apply that knowledge along the way. I think she’d be proud of the writer I’ve become, and I intend to make sure she stays that way.
When I reflect on something I’ve done that’s all mine, I almost don’t know where to start. I’m proud of so many things. The following is just a short list.
- Following my heart in college to become an English major instead of a nurse.
- Being certain my “love-at-first-sight” feeling for my husband was absolutely correct–we just celebrated our 33rd anniversary at home with a piece of Godiva chocolate cheesecake. Covid can’t stop us!
- Holding down the home-front with a five-month-old baby while my husband was deployed during Desert Shield and Desert storm. My oldest son and I spent ten months being everything to each other.
- Leaving my hubby in charge of our two boys and a our dog to travel alone to London to meet my childhood friend for a four day trip. I cried on the plane, but that trip remains one of the most memorable times of my life.
- Going back to school when my husband left the military to become a high school English teacher.
- Volunteering to write curriculum for and teach a creative writing class the year my principal offered a creative writing class on distance learning. My class had more students who gave me good reviews, so I got to keep the class. It was my favorite thing to teach.
- Learning to write a novel. This is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I know people think I should have published by now, and maybe I should have, but I wasn’t happy with my first effort. I’m working to make this first book as good as I can make it.
- Raising (read civilizing) two healthy, happy gentlemen. Although I had help with this one from my husband, I’m still prouder of my two sons than I am of anything else in the world. If I never publish a novel, I will have made my mark on this planet with those two fine children who are strong, kind, and open-minded.
Making this list was a great exercise to remind myself of what I’ve done, what I’ve accomplished that is truly mine. I’m not an imposter. When I feel that way, it’s my insecurity talking. From now on, I’ll stop comparing myself to others. I’m going to give myself credit where credit is due. When I put my mind to anything, I can achieve all things. What do you need to give yourself credit for doing and creating? Be proud of who you are and what you’ve accomplished.
Your honest approach to writing success is refreshing. Writing at literary publication level (way beyond text books, newsletters, news stories, etc.) is most difficult and fraught with failure. It’s easy to compare yourself to the “mega writers” so many people admire and come up short. At the other end of the spectrum are delusional “writers” self publishing junk who think they are Faulkner or Hemingway. All I know is you have to be the judge of your own work, recognize that your writer’s life is like no others, and never quit striving to be as good as you can. Thank you for making me think.
Thank you for always taking the time to read what I write and encouraging me. It means the world. I’ve learned a lot over the years, but there’s so much to learn and so much rejection. I’ve developed a thick skin and a diligent work ethic over the years, but I refuse to self-publish anything that doesn’t meet my standards. People who don’t live the writing life may not understand that, but I know you do. Thanks again.