A few years ago, I wrote about imposter syndrome
and I still remember the intense, paralyzing feelings of anxiety I had while attempting to write the piece. It was overwhelming.
While some would say that it was writer’s block, I would disagree. To me, writer’s block is when I can’t think of words to put down. Imposter syndrome, though, gave me both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety. My brain kept asking why I was even qualified to write the piece. Why would anyone want to read it? How is it any different from all those other imposter syndrome pieces out there? There was no room left for me to think about anything else, let alone put words to paper.
I’ve kept a private journal since I was five. I started writing online 18 years ago with LiveJournal. I’ve always loved writing, but it was never presented as a career option for me. I don’t have formal training in writing and that was at the crux of my imposter syndrome.
I remember one of the first times I had received edits back on a piece. I opened the Google Doc and saw dozens of red marks and the sidebar filled with comments. This massive wave of anxiety washed over me, telling me they hated the piece. I immediately closed the file. Professional reputation is important to me, and I wouldn’t let imposter syndrome stop me from working on an article. I did, however, take a day to sit with all the anxious thoughts out in my head.
The next day, I held my breath and opened the file. There weren’t as many edits as I thought and the great majority of the comments were just that – comments. Positive ones, not edits.
This essay was about my writing imposter syndrome and anxiety, but writing is, of course, not the only area of my life that it impacts. I’ve found that my anxiety is much worse in anticipation of something than the actual doing of the thing. Whenever I write feature pieces, especially on topics I’m not familiar with, I still get imposter syndrome. But thankfully, it’s no longer as paralyzing as it was before.