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On The Table Read, “The Best Book Reader Magazine in the UK“, author JJ Barnes shares her own experiences with imposter syndrome, why she believes we need to fight it, and techniques she uses.
Written by JJ Barnes
Imposter Syndrome can strike anyone, and it certainly strikes me on an alarmingly regular basis. It’s the belief that any success or recognition you’ve received in your work is undeserved. That you’re a fraud and soon everybody will notice. But I believe we should fight it. And I believe we can.
Why We Should Fight Imposter Syndrome
I have struggled with chronic insecurity my whole life, not just in my career. And, despite this, I’m constantly putting myself out there. Because I truly believe it matters.
For a long time I didn’t take the risk. Low self esteem made me believe that my writing and my stories were worthless. I let myself believe my value, what little there was, lay in far less healthy and happy places. And I suffered for it. I was both unfulfilled because I wasn’t pushing myself forwards with what I really love, and literally suffering because of the choices I made.
But when I started to fight it I found my truth. Whatever your true love is, be it creative like mine or any other area, if you let yourself embrace it you will feel better. And we deserve that. We only get one life, as far as I know, and if we waste it being too scared to pursue and pour ourselves into the thing that gives us joy, we don’t get that time back. It’s lost.
Fight the imposter syndrome and really embrace the thing you love. Even if you never find success, because we are all struggling for that, at least you know you were living your truth and doing what you love. Even if you don’t get to give up your day job and your passion stays a hobby, at least you had passion. A hobby that makes you happy is worth a million lives that make you sad.
Remember You’re The Only You
When you think about writing your story it’s easy to assume that somebody else would write it better. Other writers are more experienced. Maybe you think they’re more artistic or more interesting, or maybe smarter.
Maybe you’re right. There can only be one smartest and more talented in any field so the likelihood is it isn’t you. It certainly isn’t me. But the smartest and most talented writer in the world can’t tell your story in the way you can. They could tell a version of it, but it wouldn’t be your version. They could use the same characters, but they wouldn’t write them how you write them. Because the only person in the whole world who can tell your story how you tell it is you.
Every writer has their unique voice drawn from their unique lives. Your experiences will shape your creativity, your fears and your hopes will become part of the people you write about. And that should be celebrated.
The best and most beautiful way to celebrate the wide scope of all that humanity has to offer is through stories written by as many different people as possible.
We Are All Struggling With Imposter Syndrome, You Are Not Alone
When you’re so busy focusing on the things you feel you’re weak at, and are sure everybody else can see those weaknesses too, remember we are all doing the same in reverse.
I have spoken openly about how I feel like my career is small and I feel like I’m struggling all the time, and had other writers talk about how they aspire to what I’ve achieved. My perspective is to focus on everything I find hard, everything I see as a flaw and a weakness, and compare that to the writers I see with so much more success than me. But others don’t see it. They see the things they struggle with.
If you think everybody is looking at your flaws whilst you look at their strengths, remember this. They’re seeing your strengths and their own flaws. And if we focus so much on our own flaws that we can’t create anything because we’re so convinced everybody else can see them too, whilst everybody else is doing the same thing in reverse, nobody will create anything in the first place.
We have got to fight through it. Your voice matters. Your story matters. Even just the process of writing it down matters, even if nobody else ever sees it. Just writing it, having accomplished a thing you were too scared to believe you could, is amazing. If it’s in there, let it out. That story matters.
The World Needs More Stories
I feel like I say this all the time, so forgive me for repeating myself. The world needs more stories. Our world thrives on stories. They’re how we learn, how we explore, how we come to understand those different to us. We get to experience things we fear, things we dream of. We get to understand the consequences of choices, both good and bad, and learn to be better humans.
Stories are incredibly powerful. They can do great harm, when people hold up some stories as so important they’re worth starting wars over. But when handled with care they can do immense good. Lives are improved and joy is created by the experience of watching characters complete a journey. Understanding and compassion can be found for our enemies, and friendships can be formed over love for an experience.
Stories are an international language that let us live a thousand lives. So don’t let imposter syndrome stop you writing yours. Don’t let it stop you breathing life into people that would never exist if it wasn’t for you. Don’t let it win.
You matter, your story matters, and your story won’t exist if you don’t write it.
More From JJ Barnes:
I am an author, filmmaker, artist and youtuber, and I am the creator and editor of The Table Read.
You can find links to all my work and social media on my website: www.jjbarnes.co.uk
Buy my books: www.sirenstories.co.uk/books
Follow me on Twitter: @JudieannRose
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