Archives: imposter syndrome

Don’t reject yourself

People, marginalized groups most of all, tend to do their own rejecting. They don’t see a lot of people like themselves in anthologies or magazines. They don’t see themselves so they don’t think people like themselves should even try.

Been there.

There are several times we tell ourselves no when it’s not really our job. Before we write the story. Before we submit the story. Before we accept the acceptance of the story. Before we tell people that we have work eligible for awards. Before we accept the nomination for the award.

We are convinced that if we do get acceptance, or we do get a nomination, or we do win an award, then something has gone wrong. We forget that it’s not our job to accept, nominate, and award.

Last week, Lifehacker published “It’s Not Your Job To Tell Yourself “No.”

Of course, if you really want to, then you can dream up reasons for why now isn’t the right time, this isn’t the right place, and you’re not quite ready… but I don’t think that’s your job.

It’s not your job to tell yourself no. It’s not your job to deny yourself opportunities. It’s not your job to prevent your own progress. There are enough people in the world who will do those things for you.

Your job is to embrace rather than ignore. Your job is to pursue rather than prevent. Your job is to tell yourself “yes” instead of “no.”

That’s your job.

Exactly this. It IS your job to write, to submit, to keep writing.

It is NOT your job to decide who goes into the magazine, who gets their book published, and who gets nominated or wins awards.

It sounds like you’re helpless. You’re not. You are only helpless if you try to control the stuff you don’t control at all, and it feels like the way to control that is to say NO to yourself before anyone else does.

But you don’t have that control. If you focus on what you do control – writing and sending that thing off, then you will be happy.

Happier, anyway.

Imaginary Faceless Time Traveling Haters

I’ve been afraid-a lot-in my life and career. It comes and goes, there are peaks and valleys. I’m sitting here now, grumpy and afraid. And I realized that I’m afraid that people will Find Out.

Imposter syndrome is not just you thinking that you’re not good enough to have achieved what you have. It’s not just feeling that your success is a fluke. It’s worrying that those things are true and everyone is going to find out. You’re only able to fool people for so long, and then it will be on the front pages. And by you, I mean me.


And the people who reveal this, the ones who break the story and blow the whistle, they are going to be outraged and furious and come and take away your awards and erase your good reviews and go to the house of everyone who has purchased anything from you and tell them to demand their money back because you’re just not worth it. You’re giving these faceless people power over you, power to cancel your achievements, power to erase the fucking past. 

That’s a whole lot of power. And if someone had that kind of power, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t go back in time to fuck up your (my) career. Come on, we have Hitlers to kill and stocks to short and famous people to hang out with before they become famous and we can say we Knew Them When.

So I want to remove that power from the imaginary faceless time traveling haters. And I’ll do so by the simple matter of confessing, removing the ammunition from their time travel hater gun.

  • I don’t know what I’m doing. I write silly or weird shit. People sometimes like it.
  • Sometimes when good things happen to me, I’m so confused about it-how did THAT happen?-that I don’t immediately have what most people consider the proper response. And if something good happens, but not what I expect/want, it’s even harder to process.
  • I have an ambitious indie project I want to do this year. It is scaring the shit out of me. It scares me because I’m afraid that I will get shell shocked by attention, depressed by lack of attention, or delayed because of other projects, and quit in the middle. (it’s serial fiction, can’t write it all and then release it because of reasons and baseball.)
  • Sometimes when I actually think about the fact that people are actually listening to my podcast, I get panicky and my mind goes blank and I can think of absolutely nothing to say. This causes podcast delays.
  • I have written fanfic about a video game. This makes me feel delicious that I have gotten away with something, and worried I am unoriginal.
  • I secretly feel like the vehicle that is my career is a stuttering, choking, rusty jalopy while every one of my peers is driving a sports car. Logically, I know this is untrue. We all struggle. Emotionally, I’m a pig in the mud and everyone else is a soaring hawk.

I’m sure there are more, but I have things to do. I have a 2015 writing schedule to make up and a freelance project to finish. I have fears to get over and time machines to break.