The Imposter Within
Today we welcome guest blogger, professional writer, and novelist, Mandy Jeppesen to the Rebrand You tribe. Listen in as she shares her story of struggle against the masked imposter she felt was inside her for years.
Imposter Syndrome – not something I had ever attached to my name before. But as I sat there, eyes filled with tears in front of my husband, those were the words I heard leave his mouth. “It sounds like what you’re experiencing is Imposter Syndrome. But it’s ok, lots of people feel that way at one point or another in their life.”
My interest peaked… wait, I am not alone in feeling like a phony- a professional pretender? For as long as I could remember, I had never felt like I was truly gifted with any specific talent. I was just decent at a wide variety of things – never really shining in one area in particular. Though there were several areas I wanted to excel and feel successful in, there was one that I couldn’t ignore. I wanted to be a writer; an imaginative majesty of morals. Whenever I wrote, and still do to this day, I felt like a cryptic Queen curating a world of playful pretend and forewarning fantasy. I loved it. And even though others thought I was good at it, I felt like I was just goofing around. Pretending to be good at something, I wasn’t really good at.
As I got older, my love and enjoyment of writing grew. I made it through college as a Communications major… in marketing. Not journalism. Marketing. Looking back, it was the right thing for me, but at the time, my heart felt torn. I wasn’t as interested in drafting marketing plans, designing graphics or laying out websites with html code. I only wanted to write… Stories. Papers. Poetry. Books. After graduating, I ended up remaining in sales (what I had done to pay my way through school with no student loans), which I found soul-sucking and completely wasteful of my education.
It wasn’t until I started writing training manuals for some of the new sales staff that my coworkers started recognizing my skill set. Though I thought myself mediocre at best, I was reminded by those that knew me well I loved writing and I was a published poet. Yup, I won a youth poetry contest in the fifth grade that landed me in a book “I Stand On You and Sing that Song”. I had even had one of my stories entered into a Disney Studios writing challenge. But no matter how much I was reminded of my early success, all I could hear in my head was the voice saying, “You’re still playing pretend. Who are you kidding- it’s not something you’re good enough at. You won’t be able to make a career out of it, so why try?” Somehow I felt like I had tricked those previous teachers and poetry judges into believing I was gifted. There just couldn’t be any other reason why I was recognized..
Advocating as a First Step
As I slogged my way out of sales and into the marketing field, I found myself advocating for more writing assignments – less design and more writing. It wasn’t because I thought I was good at it, but I knew the only way I was going to get better was with practice. And I practiced. I started freelance writing on the side of my full-time marketing job, and still felt like I was acting like something I wasn’t.
As my mind whirred with doubt, I often wondered why would anyone trust I was the expert when it came to telling their stories? Every time I looked in the mirror I saw an eight-year-old me wearing one of my father’s old dress shirts and a pencil stuck into my lopsided, ill-manufactured hair bun. I was an imposter. A kid playing dress-up. I didn’t deserve to do what I enjoyed, and I was selfish for wanting to love what I did for a living.
The voice inside me got louder and more frequent. “You are a no-talent.” “No one would ever read a book you wrote.” ‘You don’t have an actual story to tell.” “You struggle at grammar and spelling – how the hell can you be a professional writer if you can’t even properly structure a sentence?” And yet as others thanked me for my work and complimented me on my pieces none of it set in. Only that annoying, negative inner voice calling me out as an imposter.
That is until the day I sat down and shared my sadness and lack of confidence with my husband. I had had enough of that damn voice and needed a different message to lead me. Fortunately for me, he did.
This is Real. I am for Real.
My husband, Dane, introduced me to Imposter Syndrome. He shared with me that he also felt like an imposter when he started his leadership position. He had never thought of himself as a leader, so when he got promoted, his first thoughts were, “wait, did they get the right person?” Luckily for him, he has a great working relationship with his managers and trusted their insight. He started shushing that sad little voice of doubt and instead repeated the qualities he saw in himself and the experience that qualified him for the promotion. His esteem leaped as his worth was finally being realized- by him.
I trust and respect my husband more than anyone in the world, so if he could overcome the imposter within himself, I knew I could too. It took time, practice, and dedication. Sure, I had depressive steps backward into self-doubt and disbelief, but it doesn’t have to stop me. Every day I start my morning with a meditation and a reflection of affirmations that remind me of my value, my purpose, and my power. The strength is inside me and I recognize what I have achieved and I like my writing. Sometimes I even pick one sentence I really liked that I wrote and place it somewhere I can see as a reminder that I am a writer. That I am worthy of loving what I do. And that I am not an imposter in my own life.
My name is Mandy Jeppesen, and I am a professional writer and novelist.
Article By: Mandy Jeppesen