Imposter Syndrome is frequently discussed, and most creatives, including writers, are likely to be familiar with the term. It describes the feeling of being a fraud, and of not deserving the success you’ve achieved. There is a sense of waiting to be “found out”.
When it comes to our own talents and abilities, self-confidence is a complex issue. It’s perfectly possible to be fully aware that you’re a competent writer, and to be confident of this fact – and yet, paradoxically, also to have a fragile sense of your own worth as a writer. We often fluctuate, and can go to extremes. Sometimes we do also realise and believe that we have talent and potential, but feel that this will never be recognised, and that’s not easy to talk about, without coming across as egotistical or deluded.
Unsupportive families definitely don’t help. I know, from experience. There can be total apathy, such as my mother and younger brother demonstrate. They are completely dismissive. Success, in their minds, would involve “getting on with” what they regard as ordinary, “real” jobs, of which I’ve had many. The very notion of my being a writer is invalidated and discouraged, met with hostility and stonewalling silences. Equally, my in-laws are dismissive and silent, but certainly not when it comes to what they regard as their own “successes”, about which they are prone to boast and exaggerate at every opportunity.
It’s not always easy to remember that, hey, I have written a novel – and other books, too – and that’s huge. It’s real. For years, I allegedly “thought I was writing a book”, in the view of my mother. I can still hear her voice in my mind, reciting such phrases. But, now that I have indeed completed my novel, does she recognise my success, in having done so? Do any of these people I’ve mentioned? No. None of the line-towing I managed to do, over the years, against the odds, was ever truly appreciated. They didn’t, and don’t, care what I do.
But here’s the thing. We, as writers and other creatives, have achieved what we have. Hopefully, we will go on to achieve more. And we ourselves need to recognise the fact, because those who are too busy being self-interested. judgmental, and disapproving to acknowledge our value – they aren’t going to change, unless and until they themselves decide to do so.
Yes, Distorted Perceptions, and my various other publications, exist. I’ve published a novel, and done so in overwhelmingly difficult circumstances. Not many members of my family can say the same. All of this with due respect to those family members who actually have been supportive, to whatever extent. Ironically, the ones who should really be receiving this message won’t read it, and would remain disinterested, even if they were to.
Believe in yourself and your dreams, even if those around you refuse to do so. Your words can become your legacy, your gift for the generations to come. Your stories need to be told. They, and you, matter.
See the Standalone website, if you are an estranged adult, like myself. An interesting and positive resource.
Or/and read more about family estrangement and the associated trauma.