Have you ever been asked to introduce yourself and you suddenly don’t know who you are beyond your name and age? You forget what you do and every single thing you have accomplished. I was recently asked this question and I couldn’t answer it beyond my name. Every single one of my accomplishments vanished. Poof! Up in the air.
I have a hypothesis on why this happens, particularly to creatives. I think it happens because of Imposter Syndrome. Have you ever heard someone speak about all that you have accomplished and you start to wonder, “who is this person that you speak of?” The same rule of thumb happens when you are asked to speak for yourself.
I once sat in a meeting where we were all asked to introduce each other, not ourselves, but each other and when I heard what the person who was introducing me said about me, I wondered at what they saw. Because all these things he said, I did not feel or did not even think I was capable of doing.
I kept thinking, they must be talking about someone else. A few minutes ago, I was called out for not believing that I was good enough. It’s always a hard pill to swallow when it’s the truth, isn’t it? And that is the truth. I don’t see myself as… enough. I feel there are deficiencies in my writing, in my editing, in my talent as a singer, in myself as a person.
AND YET! I have won multiple awards for my writing. I have been commended for my editing, there are people who actually seek me out because of it. I have heard from people considered to be great that my voice in this generation is vital. Someone calls me their Chimamanda. Another thinks I am the best female writer in the world. My blog was freaking nominated for the Afrobloggers 2020 awards. And when it comes to my singing, acclaimed contemporary Jazz saxophonist, Isaiah Katumwa thinks I have an amazing voice. And I… I just don’t see it. I just don’t feel it.
So, if I have all these accolades validating how good I am and how I was meant for this, why then do I feel unworthy of them? Why then do I feel like a fraud? Why then do I constantly feel like I am going to be found out? Like any minute now, someone is going to yell out, “YOU’RE A LIAR! YOU’RE A FRAUD! YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH! YOU WEREN’T MEANT FOR THIS!”
These people that told me these nice things about myself, did they lie? Were they trying to pump me up only to enjoy watch my balloon deflate when it’s hit by the sharp edges of life? Or is it me, and not them? I know what the answer is and it is definitely me, myself, and I. That trifecta.
There’s something about the way humans are wired that will make us replay a negative thing said about us over and over again and discard the hundred different positive, nice and kind things said about us. Thing is, most of these negative things, we say to ourselves. Over and over again until we believe them. And when someone says something not nice to us, it validates those negative feelings and lies about ourselves.
How then do we get over this? How then do I let go of this negative perception of myself and hold on to the actual truth of who I am? How then do I actually enjoy the accolades that I have won by being myself? How then do I believe the ones that say I am good? How then do I believe that I am actually good?
I know the answer to this, but it is extremely hard. I suppose the first step is in acknowledging that there is a problem. However, there are sometimes I feel like Sisyphus, a man from Greek Mythology who was forced to roll an immense boulder up a hill only for it to roll down every time it neared the top, repeating this action for eternity.
I do have a blueprint I am following. The blueprint is to unlearn everything I have been told about myself and what I have told myself. Unlearn it all and start speaking the truths about myself, daily. Deconstruct the shanty to rebuild a bigger, better, stronger house that won’t flail like limbs of a tree in the wind. It is hard work, dear me. It is extremely hard work. But I am getting there. I will get there.
Dear Me: Remember to be gentle with yourself. There is only one you and your echo needs to be heard through the generations. This won’t happen if you don’t start being kind to you and stop being so hard on yourself.