• Cara Cilento

Imposter Syndrome, Covid-19 and Writing. How do we piece it together?

I don’t watch a lot of television. I write and I read, but my wife told me I should watch American Horror Story and Nine Perfect Strangers because they featured writers and imposter syndrome. I looked up from my computer screen, cocked my head to the side, and gave it a whirl. Now I can’t get either out of my head.

We, as writers, knew imposter syndrome was a force to contend with, but these stories bring it to a new level. With the onset of Covid-19, many of us found ourselves as victims of self-doubt even though there was so much evidence to the contrary. Some of us found ourselves cutting new paths into roles as authors. Some might say it should be easier for us because we were always a diverse and creative group of people, but a lot of us had concerns about whether we are doing a good enough job of "keeping up."

Imposter Syndrome

If you don’t know what Imposter Syndrome is, it's essentially the sense of not being accepted, the feeling of being a fraud. For authors like us, we feel we are not truly writers and that when we use the name “writer”, we feel it’s a fabrication. It is a deliberate and self-inflicted attack on our writing confidence. We feel that something has gone horribly wrong. We are not legitimate writers, and we have no business being among others who consider themselves writers. It impacts all of us. Dr. Valerie Young breaks down Imposter Syndrome into five types.

Types Of Imposter Syndrome

They are The Perfectionist, The Superman/woman, The Natural Genius, The Soloist, and The Expert. Perfectionists establish unrealistically high standards for themselves, and when they fail to meet those standards, they suffer intense self-doubt and concern over not measuring up. The Superman/woman are persuaded into thinking that they are impersonating genuine coworkers, they frequently push themselves to work more and harder in order to keep up with the competition. It’s a recipe for burnout for sure. The Natural Genius, like The Perfectionist, has unreasonable expectations. However, the Natural Genius adds time pressure and feels they must do things correctly on the first try. Soloists do not ask for help ask and feel that asking is a sign of weakness. Finally, The Expert considers "what" and "how much" they know or can accomplish. They are afraid of being revealed as inexperienced or unknowledgeable because they believe they will never know enough.

How Do We Control Negative Feelings

So what do we do to combat all these negative feelings and keep us in balance? How do we stay positive? I know there are a lot of articles written on the topic but, I recently attended a conference on the 7 Mindsets of Social Emotional Learning and the take away applied to all of us as writers as we view ourselves and how we should approach each other who are going through imposter syndrome. They are:

Everything is Possible: Dream big, embrace creativity and expect results

Passion First: Pursue your authentic talents and deepest interests

We Are Connected: Explore the synergies in all relationships and learn to empower one another

100% Accountable: Choose to be responsible for your own happiness and success

Attitude of Gratitude: Seek positives from every experience and be thankful for all you have

Live to Give: Inspire and serve others while maximizing your potential

The Time is Now: Harness the power of this moment, and take purposeful action today

Keep Trying

In short, the best way keep positive and maintain a healthy balance is to keep writing with realistic expectations and perspective. According to research, increasing one's self-awareness can be advantageous in a variety of situations. It has the potential to boost our self-esteem and encourage us to be more accepting of others because who doesn’t need community when they are trying to keep a positive mindset? It has the potential to increase job satisfaction while also encouraging us to become more effective leaders. It can also assist us in exercising greater self-control and making better decisions that are consistent with our long-term objectives.

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