I am an impostor

Groucho Glasses © Oleg Dudko | Dreamstime.com

Oh, man, I’m not into this today. My brain is resisting the various promises I’ve made to write this or do that or make this call or research that. It feels so comfy just to sit and do nothing.

“You have been there and done that your whole life, fulfilling those promises, and see where it got you: A house full of stuff and no time to enjoy it.”

Oh, woe is me, right? The tortured comfy person, overweight and stuffed with self-pity.

“Ain’t that America, land of the free? Go back to sleep, you know you want to.”

Oh! Aha!


I see you, you nasty little syndrome lurking behind the garbage can.

“You’re an impostor!”

Yes, yes I am. As are we all. We hope to impart what we’ve learned, but someone will think we’re foolish and not qualified for the task, and we glimpse that someone in the mirror. No need to pile on.

“No one will find your work any good at all.”

Thank you, thank you, I know. I don’t even know why I try.

“That’s true — you’re a quitter, too.”

What will it take to make you go away?

“Go away? Whatever for? I’m your realistic side. You need to realize you will always be inadequate, you will never have anything useful to impart, and you may as well accept that and disappear into your normal everyday life.”

Methinks you doth protest too much.

“Now you think you’re Shakespeare.”

I’m making you nervous, aren’t I, little syndrome?

“Nervous? Not at all. Move along, move along, no one is paying attention.”

And yet here I am, stumbling along and writing away, making my little scratches on paper for a handful of readers.

“You think you have even a handful of readers? What part of ‘no one is reading’ or ‘no one is listening’ do you misunderstand?”

I’m reading. I’m listening. I’m saying something here. I need to say something.

“What do you have to say that hasn’t been said a million times before? What do you have to offer except platitudes and attitudes that everyone already knows, you unoriginal cheeky little nobody?”

You’re overplaying your hand now, little syndrome. I am making you nervous, aren’t I? The longer I plow ahead, the weaker you become. You depend on my giving up, don’t you? You depend on my agreeing with you and confessing to the world — as if the world is listening — and admitting to myself that I’m an impostor. Then I can stop encouraging myself to keep going, to keep believing I have something to say, and fade into my numb little quiet life of desperation and sleep.

“Yes — yes! You are getting sleepy …”

In your dreams, impostor syndrome. I’m just waking up now; that’s what happens when I see you for what you are. Yes, I am one in 7 billion, and I was one in 4 billion when I was born, but I am one, and no matter how many billion there are, I will still be this one, and each one is a life and each one has value, Q.E.D., I have value and what I have to say has value, and if I keep going, I will eventually find others among the 7 billion who will read my words and hear what I’m saying and think, “Hey, thanks, I needed to know that.” And it’s for those others that I keep scrawling words across the page and retyping them for people to find out there in the place where words are scattered by the quadrillion, because if I leave them here on the page on my bookshelf, no one can ever find them. And so fly, little words! Go and proclaim my humanity to the world and in so doing inspire readers to realize, “Hey, I could be doing that, too — here I come, world, here I come.”

And I will warn them about you, impostor syndrome, I will warn them that you come to everyone who dares to share their thoughts, and the only way to shout you down is to keep writing and keep sharing, and even then you will crop up when we least expect it and when we are most vulnerable. I respect your persistence, and maybe I should follow your example, because even the greatest writers have to go a few rounds with you, and they have learned to be as persistent as you and keep writing when you whisper your discouraging whispers, to laugh and say tell you what, I can keep writing just as long as you can keep whispering and we’ll see who loses their voice first.

“Keep writing, big man, you are still an impostor.”

Yes, I am. But I’m still writing.

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