on imposter syndrome
yeah i got it
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fucking hell mate. being a human is an exhausting experience, i don’t mean to whine (but i will) but making public work/ art is especially so because of the projection of the experience, how + what people assume of you versus what the actual personal experience of making the work is like, and how it lands for you.
when i taught my writing with vulnerability class i was always able to intuit that around week 4 or 5 folks would start to feel a lot of anxiety about their work and so toward the end of the class i would generally teach a class and focus on imposter syndrome to aid in the process of putting your work out there.
women and femme folks by and large feel imposter syndrome and i think that has a lot to do with how other women and femme folks judge each other. the lack of support we receive from our peers is self-evident, and in my life, though i’ve gained a wonderful readership, i’ve lost a lot of close friendships along the way (only with other women) who have assumed a lot about my experience without ever really asking me how it felt for me. or worse, sometimes they knew and still didn’t really care.
last week a new friend of mine, a very talented and successful person in their own right, told me on a walk that they were battling with feelings of envy over my career. it was shocking to say the least, but also weirdly comforting to know the truth. i welcomed it even though it made me feel sad and confused because i do long for people’s honesty — even if it’s hard to hear. when i spoke to my friend Gabi about it later, someone who is also a writer/thinker, we discussed how rarely we contend with men suffering from jealousy. i’m not saying that men don’t feel it, but i’m yet to hear a story of how they used that jealousy against another man.
when i’ve felt envy (and i do, not often, but i do) i find a way to sublimate that into my own work. i try and locate what that feeling arises inside of me. but maybe because i’m a capricorn (and thus forever embarassed by myself) i do have a lot of questions about whether or not i’m good enough at what i do, constantly. so i’m not really competing with anyone else, just myself. it’s hard then, to hold other people’s envy when most days i worry if i’m any good… at anything!
i like talking about these things because they’re ugly. it’s uncomfortable to admit that even though my fourth book is about to come out that people will think i’m an idiot and nobody will read the book. i worry that it’s not very good. i worry that my story won’t be remembered. i suffer a lot from the feeling of being overlooked, which is most likely rooted in being a child of deep neglect. i had to be sooooo shiny to be seen, and even then, even while aiming for perfection, i rarely was.
recently my sister told me that i’m a good person and that she’s always seen how pure hearted i’ve always been. it made me weep because i didn’t know she thought that. because of my imperfections, mistakes, i assumed i was bad and yet i felt my sister’s heart and as she told me i knew she meant it. it felt like such a relief to get her mirroring, to get her acknowledgment. it felt like a beautiful, precious gift. more important than any other reflection i could have received.
but the last few weeks before then, i was in suffering. i think since all the legal drama with the book i questioned whether my story was important if my publishers couldn’t protect me. i questioned if i had anything to say, and whether or not this book would offer me what i need and wanted — true monetary stability, as well as the positive reinforcement by an industry i feel very overlooked by. would anyone take me seriously? would anyone really care?
then this weekend i sat in a two day grandmother ayahuasca ceremony (again) and sat with sacred medicine san pedro as well. going in, i knew they would offer the salve i needed, much like my sister. a salve of truth, with no pretense or ego, no projection. just care. all i want is to be seen for all of me — the hurt and the love, the pain and the beauty. envy in others is such a strange thing to contend with because its dehumanizing. people only see what they want, they don’t see all of you. you become two dimensional, flattened. so i sat in ceremony because i wanted all of me to be cherished, i wanted to reconnect with my soul. outside of the need for accolades… before my tour, and Who Is Wellness For? coming out, i needed to return to myself. to remember why i write. the internet distills people into an unrealistic avatar. if you are a woman, let alone a successful woman, a lot of the times you become a scapegoat for other people’s insecurities. maybe that’s unavoidable. maybe this is my karma, the work i have to do — to talk about it all publicly so we can all begin to humanize each other more.
imposter syndrome was brewing because i was anxious how this book would land. what would people say? manoosh ki bolbe, as they say in Bangla. but the more i sit, the more i ground, the more i remember, remember, remember why i write, the more i return back to myself. the less scared i feel, the bolder i get.
many years ago a teacher and mentor asked me would i still write if i never received all the credit that i deserved? if i never made money, if i was never published? the answer back then remains the same. i write because i must. i write because it is my liberation. i write because i have no other choice.
please pre-order Who Is Wellness For? (wherever you are, encourage your local bookstores to order in the book) and please read it… and even if you don’t, it’s important that i remember that i write for myself. i write for baby Fa. the fact i’m alive to do that is a victory, the fact that i’m still here is nothing short of a miracle. write for yourself, write because it’s a salve, because it brings you solace. write to understand yourself, the world, the human condition. the people who need you will find you. and ain’t that true. all the rest is extra.