Tag Archives: self-esteem

Feeling a fraud…

I’ve been talking with my galpals about this creeping sense of fear we all experienced at one point or another. It’s that feeling that you are merely playacting in your role, that sooner or later you are going to be caught out and proven to be completely inadequate.

The funny thing is that it happens so often that, really, we should be able to tolerate it. But it still seems a terribly frightening thing.

When I worked as a nurse, I lived in horrible fear I’d make a stupid mistake and it would be revealed that I really hadn’t done all that well in nursing school – in fact, struggled through until we got to the policy things, where I was able to cope. Sure enough, I did, I was, and eventually I moved into health policy positions.

Where I worried that I’d been promoted prematurely into management, that I was only faking competence, that sooner or later I’d blow it and I’d be caught and tossed out on my ear. Well, it was a near thing but my MS attacked before I could actually be tossed and so I was able to creep out before the tarring and feathering as my fraud was detected. (not real fraud, I hasten to add. I am nothing if not honest. Sometimes painfully so).

So now I try to write, and people tell me I can write well, but I know I’m just faking it, as I do with so many things, just faking it until someone catches me and says “Fraud! Fraud!”

And now I help with all sorts of projects, offering my expertise, but feeling as if I am playacting there as well. I am still gobsmacked that anyone would appreciate my advice, that they are not merely putting up with me so I will go away and they can talk about me behind my back. I find it hard to believe I have anything of importance to offer. And yet I keep putting myself out there, so there must be some part of me that feels I do.

Perhaps it’s paranoia, perhaps I need treatment, but I suspect there are a lot of us out there that feel the same way.

My excellent mother told us we were special, that we could do anything we wanted, that generally we could rule the world. As we went out and found that perhaps there was a teensy bit of maternal exaggeration in these statements, I think I developed this inner shadow that told me that no, we weren’t all that and a bag of chips. In fact, we weren’t even that bag of chips. The undercurrent of how we weren’t all that special after all plays in my head. Fortunately we banged into reality often in our early years and got some of the “you’re special” banged off of us before it really counted.

I can’t help but wonder about this generation of kids, who are told everyone is so special, who aren’t allowed to fail in school, who are given prizes for even showing up. How are they going to feel when they are being tested in the real world? Will they be stronger for all the lies they were told, or weaker? Or will they be tempted to brace up their feelings of superiority with real fraud?

Ah well, maybe it will all work out and they will be cheerfully, healthily competent.  Or at least much better at fraud!

Writing and waiting, writing and waiting

Writers know about time passages. There’s the percolation time as stories germinate in the mind, root around for a bit, finally reach their little tendrils into the light. Then there’s the expanding/contracting time of writing the story – magical as it whisks by when the writing goes well, dragging on when the ideas don’t flow or your characters misbehave or your dog develops stomach problems just as you need to write something down and you lose it as you hustle the dog out and scoop the remains…

And then there’s the editing time, which can expand infinitely into space unless you grab your writing hand firmly in your non-dominant hand and say “It’s good enough!”, only to find several misspellings as you do a last read through…

But finally all of these times are expended and you send your little marvel (or big marvel) in to a contest or a journal or something, and move on to something new, while in the back of your head, you wait.

And wait.

And wait.

And then there’s that waiting bit.

I’ve a bundle of stories languishing in contests all over the place and I’m not hearing from the places I sent them to. Now this could be because they haven’t decided as yet, but I fear it is because they didn’t make the grade and so the length of time in waiting is actually busy time for the winners while they are reached and congratulated and edited and published before the losers are notified that they’ve lost.

So the time seems long only in that I can feel someone else’s excitement somewhere else and it makes me frustrated and it makes me lose confidence in my writing. I can see the others jumping up and down and smiling ear to ear (I’ve had just enough experience with success to know how it goes) while dozens or more writers sit silent, turning grayer by the day, gradually letting the ink dry in their fountain pens.

It’s like having to sit through a spelling bee that you’ve already lost, watching others spell things happily on while you sip water and try to be enthusiastic for them. While mentally wishing you were anywhere else including the dentist, where at least you’d have something to do with your mouth besides smile inanely.

And then I get angry, and I say to myself, Heck, they are publishing all SORTS of excrement out there these days – surely I can’t be THAT bad, and so the germination process starts over again. Creeping along the ground slowly, little green wisp like feelers.

Then the waiting ends.

“Join us,” the contest people say, “In congratulating the latest winner of the XYZ contest, who have won not only publication but a country-wide promotional tour and a three book contract!”

I am finding it hard to join in. Not that I grudge their success, nope, not at all. I hardly ever walk into a big bookstore and weep about all the hundreds of books out there that are no doubt better than mine. Or at least published, bringing in full dollars of self-esteem to their authors.

I haven’t given up hope, yet. After all, I’m still waiting… 


Autumn Leaves

I love this time of year. I love the winds, the walking in the woods, the sight of leaves spiralling down to the ground like the snowflakes that alas must follow. Took Chutney for a walk through out ravine this morning and the beech leaves were floating around in circles, dancing with delight. We really are so fortunate to live where there are four seasons. Chutney loves it, too. His open wallowing in the enjoyment of it all, even the drenching rains, helps me see the good things.

I’ve been having a contemplative time of late. It must be the fall. Or the wind, which I always find thought-provoking. Like my own restless spirit, it pushes past, busily on its way, little looking back to see where it came from, little looking ahead to see where it goes. But, with the help of some thinking and guidance, I’m beginning to see some patterns of my life, some things I want to put right.

I’ve realized that certain relationships have done me lasting harm. That I’ve spent my life thinking I was not worthy to be called a friend, that I had nothing to offer except my hard work and sense of humour and perhaps some other attributes that shall go unnamed here to bring to a relationship. So I ended up in the position of supplicant. In my marriage, which had its good points, I must add, I was last on the totem pole a lot of the time. I ran into a colleague of my ex’s recently who told me he hadn’t realized he was married during the time they worked together. Ouch. We had even had our second child at that time, and I guess the ex didn’t mention that either. Hurtful, that. Perhaps I was embarrassing. Perhaps I was something to be ashamed of. But I don’t think so. Most of the time. Although I do know I have my moments.

I have other “friends” who treat me as a bother, too. They screen my calls, they refuse any suggestion I make for getting together, yet they call me their friend. It hurts like hell. I feel confused, and the sore bits left over from the rare evenings when my ex would curl up on the couch with me watching TV only to stand up and say, “Another evening wasted!” get pounded again.

It’s not that I’m needy. I’m busy with my own life, I have multiple interests, I enjoy solitude as well as company. But approach/avoidance love is too hurtful for me to take now. I’m going to have to stop trying to make contact.

Of course, it’s been eye-opening, realizing this. Like the typical abused person, I’ve passed on my experience to others, doing the “I’m in control” treatment to people who really don’t deserve it. Instead of dealing with things face on, I do the push away treatment. I’ve been just as guilty as my friends. Fortunately, some people have put up with me as I come to terms with the lifelong damage I’ve had from always being not quite good enough. Ever. (Maybe if I’d just grown another 2 inches? Been skinnier? Knew more? Been more polite? Listened better? Ate less chocolate? Dated less?)

I love my gang, I do. I know that some people just have to be in charge of the parameters of the relationship for their own reasons, and I am working to be good with that. It’s part of loving someone to accept their being the way they are. But maybe, like the autumn leaves, I should enjoy just watching them as they blow by on their own course, and not seek to hold their beauty in my hand.