An Open Letter To My Imposter Syndrome

Dear Imposter Syndrome,

You’re always telling me that I’m not a real writer. For the past seven years, you kept repeating harsh words in my head and I believed that they were true.

You say that I don’t have what it takes to become a real writer. You say that in order to be considered a real writer, I must work 10 hours a day at some office, write five articles a day after work, and on top of that, 1,000 words a night for the next great American literary fiction masterpiece that I have to complete by the age of 26. You keep insinuating that I’m lazy because I don’t mass-produce 12,000 words a day like other professional writers and that I’m delusional for continuing to persist in my creative endeavors because you think that I’ll never amount to anything. Ever.

You know, I used to think this way, too. I used to beat myself up because of you. In doing so, I held myself back from writing and remained paralyzed with the overwhelming fear of never measuring up to the sky-high standards you set for me, but that never helped. Instead, I’m further behind because of it.

Now don’t get me wrong, I still want to push myself and write more than just a couple thousand words a day. I may not get there tomorrow, but why do you keep insisting that I have to do it all at once?

You always say that I’m just making up excuses if I can’t write publishable content every single day, but I’ve had a rough start to the new year for reasons beyond my control, and I can’t just “get over it” right off the bat. Sometimes life crushes you unexpectedly, and there’s no way you can operate like a machine if you’re broken. Because even machines that break can’t work.

I don’t have perfect days. My emotions are everywhere, and instead of repressing them, I’m going to feel them fully and deeply. One day, I’m exuberant and full of vigor, but the next day, I’m too tired and sad to do anything but comfort myself with my melancholy songs. This will give me enough material to write about. I can’t be emotionless like you want me to be all the time.

You say that I can’t be a real writer if I get rejected too much (and by your definition, “too much” means two rejections a month). But even the best writers and the ones I admire the most get rejected. It’s a competitive world out there, but those who want to pursue writing badly enough push through and conquer anyway. They don’t let rejections define who they are. Even when they weren’t good enough when they started out, they found a way to get better. You know, by practicing more and remaining focused on their work, even when it didn’t turn out press-worthy on the first draft.

You can’t attain anything significant or worthwhile overnight. That’s not how life fucking works. It’s a grueling process that pushes you and breaks you and brings you to your knees in such a humiliating position, but you find out that all along you were meant to build yourself back up this whole time, even when others around you say you’re going to remain a lost cause for the rest of your life. Even when everyone is betting on you to fail.

I’m healing from the past, slowly but surely. I think of more things to write about. I am a fucking writer because I write for at least one hour a day, even when I’m exhausted and even when half of what I write isn’t polished enough to publish immediately. But I have to start somewhere, you know. It’s better to start and get something done just to keep the momentum going. I’m so tired of you freezing me up every damn time I try.

Still, if none of these things gets through your thick skull, all I want you to know is that I’ve had enough of your bullshit. I’ve had enough of you sabotaging my chances of doing more than what most people think is possible. I’ve had enough of losing faith in myself and falling down without getting back up. I’ve had enough of selling myself short and saying “I can’t,” even when I know I can, because the time that it takes for me to repeat the harsh words you’ve said to me is more than enough time to write something that has the potential to change the way other people think and feel about themselves. Because we’re all humans, and we all want to feel alive, not half-dead like you’ve kept us for so long.

So goodbye, Imposter Syndrome, you monster.


A real writer Thought Catalog Logo Mark

Poet, sci-fi/fantasy writer, music lover, composer, & INFP.

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