I read a lot. Mainly stuff online, but when I make time, I’ll read books and stories. I recently read an article in The Guardian where Jacinda Ardern, the very impressive and inspirational PM of New Zealand, revealed she suffers from Imposter Syndrome (IS).
To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a phony—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud—like you don’t belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck.
Some of the common signs of imposter syndrome include:
- An inability to realistically assess your competence and skills
- Attributing your success to external factors
- Berating your performance
- Fear that you won’t live up to expectations
- Sabotaging your own success
- Setting very challenging goals and feeling disappointed when you fall short2
Any way, I can relate to this. I believe that I too suffer from IS. It explains an awful lot about me, and gives a label to what motivates me and to what cripples me with self-doubt and unworthiness.
Imposter Syndrome has cascaded through my life
There are countless successes that I simply dismiss and say, next or how can I do better or I was lucky with that. The fear of ‘being found out’ even restricted my participation at AA meetings to fleeting shares; I felt that sharing my experiences, feelings and thoughts would be inadequate in comparison to others, in my rather perverse way of respecting their bravery in speaking out.
IS is responsible for me turning every success I’ve achieved into some form of a failure. Snatching defeat from the jaws of victory is a constant theme of my life. Yet at the same time it has motivated me to bounce back each time I’ve hit rock bottom, reinvent myself and start the cycle all over again.
So now I recognise this syndrome in myself, will I be able to break that cycle? I hope so. I must praise myself more for my achievements; bask in their glory for a moment or two. I must also recognise that my issues and problems are valid and to not be ashamed of seeking help or sharing my emotions.
The Imposter is a track on Elvis Costello’s wonderful Get Happy album. I put it on whilst writing this. It’s another connection to my carefree happy times in the 1980s. The photos I’ve mixed though are ones I took recently when walking my dog Betty, the new love of my life, along the Macclesfield Canal.
Music provides a wonderful release for me to escape my reality and create a new one by taking what I’ve captured through a lens and mixing it into new dimensions. I am always seeking out music to provide a background to my world. I often find what I want through connections to my past, like this time around. But more frequently these days it’s about discovering something new to me. My musical exploration used to be about fitting into a category to be part of a like-minded crowd; it’s now about discovery and pushing new boundaries.
Anyway, enough of this, I now believe that I’m not an imposter; I never have been. I’m more of a virtuoso with occasional bursts of inspiration to drive me forwards.