Sunday, August 3, 2014

That fraudulent feeling.

First, some bits of news:
  • This past Friday was Lughnasa, and to celebrate, my pal Kriss Morton let me play on her blog for my fourth Fourth-Wall Friday. In this one, I got to tour the NWNN studios on a crucial day during the plot of Scorched Earth. I love writing these things. Figuring out a way to insert myself into my books is just a ton of fun. Kriss, bless her heart, posted links to my other three appearances on this Friday's post, so if you missed one of the earlier ones, feel free to click on through and read 'em all.
  • Next weekend's post will be going up early, on Thursday the 7th, as part of Zoe Brooks' second annual Magic Realism Blog Hop. She has about 20 bloggers signed up to participate in this year's hop, including one of my co-minions at Indies Unlimited, Yvonne Hertzberger. Reading everybody's posts last year was fascinating, and I'm looking forward to having another great time this year. I hope you'll join us on the hop.
This week, Bob Mayer posted at Genreality about feeling like a fraud. He tailored his post to writers, but almost anybody who's high-achieving can fall into this trap.

Impostor Syndrome is a legitimate psychological condition. Sufferers believe that their achievements aren't due to skill or brilliance. Instead, they feel that they simply lucked into their success, and someday somebody's going to figure it out and humiliate them. As you might imagine, anxiety often goes hand-in-hand with Impostor Syndrome, and depression sometimes does, too.

When first identified back in the 1970s, researchers thought the syndrome only affected women, but more recent research has shown that men can suffer from it, too. And minorities are somewhat more susceptible -- which makes sense when you think about some of the opinions on affirmative action floating around out there (i.e., the feeling that minorities are unfairly being given jobs that ought to go to whites).

This syndrome often hits when the person is thrown into a new situation and expected to perform at a higher level than previously -- like, oh, say, writing the first draft of a novel. But it's not just a feeling of being in over your head; any sane person will have some doubts when tackling a new project. It's the sense that you never should have been given the project in the first place.

The American Psychological Association recommends some coping skills for those suffering from Impostor Syndrome -- among them, recognizing that nobody expects you to be perfect (since perfectionism also can accompany the syndrome), and building up your confidence by acknowledging what you've already achieved.

Mayer suggests stepping away from the space inside your head to view your achievements as if they belonged to someone else, and then asking yourself the likelihood that an impostor would have been able to amass such a resume.

Personally, I think that above all, you should avoid comparing yourself with other people. No matter how good you are at what you do, there will always be somebody who's better at it -- someone who wins more awards, sells more books or widgets, or makes more money. Comparing yourself with others can motivate you, sure. But if the comparisons tend to make you feel like you'll never be any good and what were you thinking when you got involved with this and maybe you should just quit right now -- just stop. Better to keep your head down in your work, and remind yourself of all the things that make you the fabulous person that you are.

Because, as I've been known to tell my kids, you're unique -- just like everybody else.

These unique bloggy moments have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell.

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