Fighting Imposter Syndrome
My Self-Doubt feeds my Procrastination
I am a writer. I’ve been a writer since girlhood. Back then, writing came to me as easily as breathing. I would spend hours on Saturdays after cartoons, writing away in homemade notebooks. I wasn’t focused on publishing or making money. I just wanted to write stories. And I was good at it.
My first taste of writing success came when I was in the 4th grade, There was a school-wide writing contest about the Golden Rule and why it was important. I don’t remember everything I wrote, but I do remember that I filled the yellow piece of paper. The Golden Rule was important because it was about being honest and true to oneself. That’s what I felt and that feeling propelled me to my writing award.
My second taste of writing success occurred two years later in 6th grade. Middle school was tough for me. I didn’t have any friends, I was picked on daily, and I got my period. Between loneliness, teasing, and cramps, it was hard to remain focused on school. But I did, especially when the teacher announced a short story contest.
My story, “Grizzly Bear Scare” won first prize in the 6th grade. The teacher received the news from the principal who sent an assistant to our classroom. I had noticed them talking and glancing at the papers in their hands. Then, they both started looking at me. The assistant left and the teacher walked over to me and informed me that I had won. I was shocked! “Grizzly Bear Scare” had been my first published fiction piece.
What was really amazing about my story was the fact that it was based on what I had seen on television. I watched a nightly nature show called “Wide Wide World of Animals” It was one of my favorite shows after “Dr. Who.” Before Animal Planet and other shows, “Wide Wide World of Animals” was a program to learn about different animals, birds, and insects.
Based on what I had learned from the show and from a ton of “Yogi Bear” cartoons, I wrote a story about a Grizzly Bear wrecking a campsite in search of food. The details in the story even amazed me. I guess those same details impressed the judges. My winning story got me thinking that I could be a professional writer.
Fast forward to now and my writing career has been an example of peaks and valleys. I’m trying to crawl out of a deep ditch within a valley. What has happened to me? Life. Listening to others and my own misgivings. Trying to pay bills and keep a roof over my head. Recovering from cancer and losing my mom to cancer. Grieving the loss and trying to pursue my dreams. Fearing death and the potential nothingness that may await me. Missing my mom and disappointing her. Wanting to leave a marriage and fearing the violence that may come with that attempt. Seeing my son growing up and needing me less and less. Hating my job as a teacher and wanting to do more in the field of education. Having so many interests and can’t focus on one thing at a time. Suffice it to say, I’m a mess.
I know I have to do better than this. The how is the question, My depression from all the things I’ve dealt with in recent years slows me down. Sometimes I just want to lay on my couch and veg out all day. But that’s a waste of precious time. I’m not getting any younger and wasting time is like throwing money out the window. I need to get organized and rev up my energy.
I did have a few writing wins over the years. I won my first poetry prize in 2020. I’ve been a finalist in a few poetry contests. I’ve been published in several journals and magazines. I’ve attended writing conferences all over the country and met some of my writing heroes like Patricia Smith, Terrance Hayes, Danez Smith, and Kiese Laymon. They’ve inspired me with their work and pushed me to be a better writer.
I need to stop letting myself down. I have spurts of activity then it flows away. We’re in the 2nd half of 2022. I want to put more out in the world. I get started then sputter out. I’m inconsistent. Doubt keeps getting in the way.
There are people who believe in my writing — my close friends, my writing group, and other people I’ve met over the years. I can’t let them down. I can’t let myself down. I have to be consistent. I have to work harder. I must get out of my own way.
Pray for me.