A person with impostor syndrome would be writing this blog post the night before it was due. Oh wait, that’s me. You may be thinking, what is impostor syndrome? Well allow me to shed some light on the subject. It is defined as “…a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence” (The Impostor Syndrome). When you read that definition you may realize that you knew what it was all along, you didn’t have a name for it.
For me, the tendency seems to be that I will do everything possible to avoid having to sit down and actually tackle a writing assignment. Not because of laziness, but because of fear. The unending fear that my work will never be good enough. Which along with my intense perfectionism and self-doubt impair me from being able to simply sit down and write. But eventually, it becomes midnight and I have to face the fact that it is time to write, because if I don’t I will have nothing to turn in. As feelings of uncertainty fill my body, I nervously start to type out an opening sentence. Then I usually erase what I have written a few dozen times before I find something that I can live with. Once I get into the groove of the piece, I love writing. But once I am out of that completely focused imagination zone, the fears and insecurities start screaming at me again. As hard as it is for me to admit, I’m a pretty good student. I usually get A’s in my classes and turn my work in on time. Yet, I never feel like I am doing enough. I also feel like one day someone is going to find out that I have just been getting by on luck.
I have always been this way, but I never fully realized it until I read an article by Megan McArdle in The Atlantic. It expressed my feelings perfectly, and I learned that most professional writers suffer from impostor syndrome. Reading that article made me feel better about the way I go about writing, and made me realize that it’s not such a bad thing. It has never really bothered me, it’s just one of my many quirks.
If it wasn’t for deadlines, I probably would never be able to complete any writing pieces. But, as McArdle states, “…most writers manage to get by because, as the deadline creeps closer, their fears of turning in nothing eventually surpasses their fears of turning in something terrible” (McArdle). I don’t want to completely fail by not turning anything in at all, but I will still feel like I have failed by turning in anything I write. Even if I get a compliment on a piece, I can never truly believe that anything I do is good.
Chances are, one, if not many of you reading this feel similarly to the way I do about writing. If you’re one of those people, I encourage you to admit your feelings, and realize that they are not bad they’re just a quirk. If you’re still curious about impostor syndrome, I encourage you to check out the links below for more information, and/or check out the book The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women from the Seattle Public Library.
Thank you for reading!
- McArdle, Megan. “Why Writers Are the Worst Procrastinators.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 12 Feb. 2014. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.
- “The Impostor Syndrome.” Caltech. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.
–Maddie B., Northeast Teen Adviser
Editor’s Note: You may also appreciate The Gifted Teen Survival Guide, which discusses “imposter syndrome” and how to combat it!