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Imposter Syndrome Almost Stopped Me From Being a Writer

The pandemic started and I was relegated to my home like many of us. I did OK for the first two weeks. Talking to friends on the phone and was watching all the pandemic coverage on the news. Watching New York City be eaten alive by the virus scared me, and I began to worry about my own community and what was coming next. My friends were also beginning to show worry. I wrote this article for The Mighty about how we were all in a collective trauma and just needed to take a nap instead of trying to fill our time with hobbies.

I posted my article in several locations and the feedback was tremendous. People from all over the country were responding with their own struggles and how they were glad someone else was expressing how they felt. I was shocked that my writing could resonate with so many. I never thought of myself as a writer and had been told in high school by my 12th grade AP English teacher that I was a poor writer. So, I shied away from writing my entire career.

The Aubrey and Floyd cases grew in the news. I wrote another article. This was also well received and posted widely on The Mighty.

How could I this terrible writer get so much recognition for my writing? How could I be getting a message out that people want to hear and respond to? This newfound voice really scared me. I wrote a few more stories and that was when I was approached by The Mighty to join their super contributor network of writers. This was an exclusive group of Mighty writers. I nearly dropped the computer. How could they possibly want me?

I knew deep down I was a terrible writer and would soon be found out. See, I have a bad case of imposter syndrome. I know this and still cannot stop it. I feel at any moment I will be told your writing is inadequate and we need to stop publishing you.

I have repeatedly been complimented on for my work. The editors make only minor changes to my work and all the feedback I have received has been constructive and makes my work even better. Yet I wait for the other shoe to fall. When are they going to say you have lost your edge and think you should stop writing?

Even now as I write this, I am thinking this will not be chosen to be published because it is not good enough for The Mighty.

I find my imposter syndrome debilitating at times. It causes me to doubt my self-worth and makes we feel less than others. This is common among successful Black people. I wonder if I am being given a leg up because of my minority status. Some others would think so.

I worry that I will be found out and humiliated. Treated as if I am some sort of con artist. That I will bring shame on me and those who had faith in me.

I have now written over 60 articles of The Mighty in the past year. All of them published some of them even paid. I am not sure how much evidence I need to believe that I am decent writer. I am working on this in therapy because it is so disheartening to hear my inner voice be so negative.

I have brought up in therapy my feelings and how imposter syndrome is affecting me. My therapist and I had a productive conversation about it and I am feeling better.

She asked me to consider what I am saying when I doubt myself:

  • All of these people giving me positive feedback are liars
  • My degrees are worthless
  • The readers are mistaken about how my work is helping them
  • The Mighty publishes substandard work
  • My friend who is an English professor who reads my work is incompetent

After she said all of this, I really had to think about what I was saying. That I was not only criticizing myself, but others who I respect. I would never want to do that.  I knew I needed to change my attitude. I am working on it.

I hope you will see all the messaging around you that confirms that you are worthy of praise and accolades for your work. I know we give ourselves these negative messages to protect ourselves from disappointment. This thinking is hurting you and if you do not strive to do new and innovative things, this leaves you and society at a disadvantage. If I had not taken a leap of faith and started writing I never would have known I have a gift and the community wants and needs to hear my voice.

I am committing to doing better and catching myself when I have this self-doubt and when I question the feedback of those around me. I ask you do the same. You are talented and have so much to offer, and you may just be the next Mighty star writer.

Remember you are Mighty Strong!

Getty image by DragonImages