BY:BONNY P MCCLAIN
Is imposter syndrome a thing? Really? I discovered this topic on one of my favorite “writerly” podcasts. During my morning run I had Longform queued up. Full disclosure I don’t typically recognize the guests unless they are Ira Glass or Lena Dunham but I recognize their publications, accomplishments, and awards.
I have a superficial understanding of imposter syndrome but I just don’t think it applies to as many people as would like the diagnosis. Jazmine Hughes was being interviewed and has written a popular narrative about the topic — click the link in case you are unfamiliar. By the way, she is quite the dynamo — at 23 already working for the New York Times — I think I was mastering the subtleties of bartending and pursuing a post-grad degree at that age — neither all that successfully.
My perspective is a little different with a MSc and Doctorate on the shelf, although now that I have read the original post, imposter syndrome appears to be temporal. You can feel its cold embrace from time to time but in the long run you pep talk yourself out of lingering anxiety.
I don’t glance nervously behind my back in fear of being outed as a hack, totally unworthy of my humble achievements or opportunties. First, I am at least twice Jazmine’s age so I tend to sigh with relief and mutter its about bloody time. Second, this has been a great year for me. Decent book sales, in demand as a speaker, prolific writer, and even “invitation only” events about health policy, medical investigative journalism, and economics. I walked onto the grounds for the White House Conference on Aging feeling up for the challenge but why wouldn’t I?
As the first to graduate college in my family, I clawed my way through several degrees, worked for countless chumps, and for the first time in my professional life — I finally have control of what I write, film, record, or design.
We live in a short-cut infused digital universe. You want to write a blog? Here is a template already pre-designed with title mock-ups to improve your SEO, integration for your podcast (because you will need one to sell the book you will naturally write…), and look how easy it all is. Except it isn’t. At least not if you want it to be meaningful or provide value. There aren’t any shortcuts my friend.
But maybe I am one of the lucky ones. I didn’t come of age in a world where a phone in the palm of my hand can answer any question imaginable. A Zoltar to be summoned with just a press of a red button and presto “your wish has been granted.” Before the modern internet age, when I wanted to know who Nora Zeale Hurston was, I had to have a plan. A plan to be near a library.
Maybe that is why I am such a fan of Seth Godin. He doesn’t need a hyperlink. If you don’t know who he is, I am not going to make it easier for you. Find out. He is that good. He is the anti-shortcut to success guy. If you want to be successful, be of value. Period. You don’t need to appeal to the masses. If you don’t like what I write, perfect. I didn’t write it for you. It is for the other people. My tribe.There is power in that statement so I am bolding it.
I hate listicles, I hate the flashy headlines that promise insight but are just rehashing the top 10 ways to suck or be average. I don’t think we are imposters or that we need a syndrome. We need to be brave. Who was it that said “leap, and grow wings on the way down”? Ray Bradbury perhaps? Go leap…I will swing by in my invisible plane — just in case.