Yesterday I held my book Frank in my hands, the actual real live book. I say live because this book has taken on a life of its own, it has become a newborn baby and today was delivery day. It’s only the proof copy so you can’t buy it just yet, but when I opened the box yesterday morning and saw that book staring back at me, I had so many unexpected feelings coursing through my veins and no time to sort them out. I was standing in my kitchen, in my pajamas, waiting on the coffee when I took my eyes off the book and looked at the clock. I was going to be late; my daughter would be here in a half-hour so we could look at houses for her to buy. I took a quick picture of the book and headed to the bedroom to get dressed, I could drink the coffee in the car, but I couldn’t sort out my feelings. Why wasn’t I as excited as the few people whom I shared the news? I knew it was that dreaded fear of not being good enough, being a fraud, an imposter.
If you look up Imposter Syndrome, Wikipedia will tell you it is “a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.”
Yesterday should have been one of those days when I couldn’t get my head out of the clouds, but instead, I was struggling with the very definition of imposter syndrome. Perhaps I should see someone about this feeling. In the car to the first house we were going to look at, I talked to my daughter about it, she said, “I know mom, I struggle also, but remember so does Michelle Obama.” When we saw Michelle Obama a few months back she talked about how she struggled with Imposter Syndrome, and I thought “well, f@*k, if the former First Lady struggles, why should it be so odd that I struggle. With one more simple search on the internet, you can find plenty of famous women who struggle with feeling like a fraud, Helen Mirren, Jodie Foster, Lena Dunham, Tracee Ellis Ross, Penelope Cruz, and the aforementioned Michelle Obama. If I’m going to include myself in a specific group of women, that’s a pretty impressive group.
It seems to me that the feeling usually only happens to me when I accomplish big goals in my life, which doesn’t make much sense to me. The happiest times of my life and I’m crippled with the fear that someone is going to come up to me, point their finger in my face and scream FRAUD!!
Getting my paralegal degree was the first time I felt the feeling of being an imposter. I got my degree from an online school, long before they were mainstream. I worked as a paralegal for over 16 years and managed not to get fired, but I was always sure some answer to a set of interrogatories that I crafted or a cite that I found for a brief was going to cause some malpractice lawsuit.
Then there was my bakery. I dropped out of culinary school after I took the classes I wanted, and blindly opened a bakery. Because I dropped out of culinary school, I felt like I had no business opening a bakery. By all accounts, my little shop was a success, but because I had to close it a year later because I was losing the function of my thumbs, I felt the doctor was confirming my fraud status.
Then there was yesterday morning staring at Frank. I know I should be so proud of Frank, and I am, really. It’s 35,000 words I pulled out of thin air. I strung them together to form sentences. Those sentences turned into paragraphs, and then a year later, I’m having coffee with an actual book in my lap. It’s an amazing feeling, but I struggle with calling myself an author, I can’t explain it really, but I struggle.
There are only two things professionally that I do that doesn’t make me feel like I’m waiting for someone to shout “Fraud” in my face. Those two things are when I’m on the road touring and this blog. I think the reason for that is just this; when I’m on tour working, I’m a road manager for various touring children shows, like PJ Masks and this fall Baby Shark. If I could boil down to the most basic things I do as a Road Manager, it would be someone who makes sure the cast and crew are taken care of and have everything they need from show to show. The other part of my job as Road Manager is the VIP experience. I don’t feel like a fraud being a Road Manager; cause let’s face it, I don’t have to deal with the cast or crew after the tour is over. With the VIP Experience, I have the added perk of every little kid I bring to meet actors they think I’m a superhero because I know Catboy, have breakfast with Gekko, and my bunk is right next to Owlette.
Then there is this blog. I don’t feel like a fake with it anymore because, in my mind, very few people read it. If we are being honest, I’m not even sure my mom still reads every post. I see my blog as more of my therapist of sorts, I spew my feelings onto a post, and usually, I feel better. In the beginning, I did feel like I had no business writing anything because I haven’t been “classically trained” to write and if you are one of my few followers, you know how I’ve struggled with my title of Author.
Bottom line is this, I’m so very very proud of my book, getting it published and having breakfast with the proof copy. I don’t know if I’ll ever write another book (even though I have two other books in varying forms of completion sitting on my laptop), but I do know I will continue to blog, it gives me the most comfort and satisfaction. And for now, I am going to bask in the glow of my book looking back at me, and I’m going to shove those imposters feelings aside, this one time, and be over the moon proud of myself and Frank.