Imposter syndrome is when you’re successful at a thing, but you secretly believe that someone is going to come and explain that they’ve figured you out, you’re a fraud, and they take away your ability to do that thing. Basically. In a very over-simplified nutshell.
Writers feel it, quite often (I say this based on the number of authors I follow who admit to having had some sense of the problem), but women are also large sufferers – especially professional women, apparently. I know young mothers who have worried about if they’re really a good enough mom, but I’m not sure if that quite falls under the same category or not.
My thing is, people somehow see me as confident in who I am, in a generalized sense. Now, usually, I attribute this to them not knowing me particularly well. They know a facet of me – Work Me, for example. Work Me often appears to either know what she’s doing, or at least know when she doesn’t know, and then she appears confident because she generally has an idea of who to go to ask for help.
But a couple of weeks ago, a fairly long term friend spoke the thought that I was not like other people, because I was confident. I knew who I was and I didn’t seem to care what People thought, and I was just as happy being me as pretending to be someone else.
I’d had a drink, which was stronger than I normally drink, and very little food, and I laughed at her, or at least, the assertion. She doubled-down. She was positive I was quire comfortable in my own skin, and I didn’t seem to have the desire to express bravada and drama in being more or less than who I was. It was reassuring to be around someone who was that centered in herself, she said. It made me feel safe and like someone that she and others could be themselves around.
I blinked and let the conversation move on. Because what else could I say at that point?How can people see me as confident in who I am when I don’t know who I am, half the time? I have doubts like anyone. There are moments where I’m confident, sure. And yes, I know how I feel about some topics. But I don’t profess to know myself particularly well on all things. I’m pretty sure I evolve and change on a fairly regular basis.
I try to be kind. I try to be the sort of human that a stray animal would trust, for example. Or that a small child who grabs a familiar color denim leg, upon discovering it doesn’t belong to their actual parent, won’t panic. They’ll simply look around for the correct leg. I guess that works for the centered and safe feelings she described? But I have serious doubts about other basic aspects of myself almost daily.
I worry that I’m honest enough or perhaps too honest. I worry that I’m too optimistic, but then perhaps I’m too negative, and I don’t achieve the middle ground realism that I want. On the other hand, a little bit of rainbows and sparkles can’t be so bad … can they? I wonder if I always recognize my inherent privilege in being a white cis woman, but then again, when in certain states, people will speak Spanish at me and assume I understand it. (I do, if they’re slow enough and enunciating very carefully, but no more than a 5 year old might. And it’s not because I was raised speaking the language. It’s barely a second language.) I worry that I come off as cold, or too warm. I worry that my sense of humor is so twisted as to be outré. I worry on a semi-constant state about something in the way I interact with the world at large, or don’t and perhaps I should.
I suspect in some ways, that this is part of being human, and maybe a feminine human, and maybe a feminine human who reads and thinks quite a lot. I also suspect it is an aspect of living in my head more than perhaps others do. I know though, that not all humans behave this way. I’ve got enough friends who I’ve asked tentatively that don’t have this in common with me. They aren’t all men. (Although quite a few are.) And quite a few read quite a lot.
So I just don’t know. I wish, sometimes, I could experience myself as they do. I don’t know if it would help, exactly. But it would be interesting to see. As it is, I get startled almost every time someone says something nice about myself. It’s not that I think I’m a horrible monster or internet troll! I just don’t necessarily think I’m worth acknowledging in thanks, either. I feel very much like someone who can fade into a wall and disappear unnoticed.
Which could easily lead into another blog post about other things. For now, I think I’ll just wrap up by opening this to you readers: do you ever have that dissonant moment, where you’re told something about yourself, and you don’t recognize the person being discussed AS yourself?
I’m allowed to tiptoe out of the gate.
They don’t mind that.
It’s within the rules, you see.
Oh, you know. The Rules.
Don’t dress too loud, or too flashy. It draws attention.
Don’t move too fast, or too well. It draws the eye.
Don’t be too loud. They might hear you.
Don’t feel too much. They would be uncomfortable.
Because it’s really all about them. And if they don’t have to see you, hear you, think about you… then they don’t really care.
It’s all about how you can steal moments that mean something, but within the cage.
It’s all about how you eventually make yourself so very small, that they forget you exist to the degree you once did. You’re simply what they’ve made you. What they need you to be – or not be. What use you have.
And eventually, they get distracted by some other shiny, loud, emotional thing.
And you can tiptoe quietly through the gate.
Into the light.
Into the air.
Into the sound of beautiful, terrible, wonderful things.
Where you can slowly unfurl and grow.
And they remember, that their mouse was once a giant dragon.
That is when you have to decide: do you let them coax and woo you, to win you back?
Or do you burn them?
So that they never try to shrink you down to nothing again.
“Yoga newsletter. Negative emotions.”
This is one of seven prompts I have set for myself of random things that I’ve thought of, in an attempt to push myself to write more. For a moment, I couldn’t figure out why I was having negative feelings about a yoga newsletter. I mean, I feel frustrated that the current schedules and locations available don’t work with the time I have available, and where I’m working and living. But then I remembered.
It was a note about how one of the instructors is often asked about positions and practices that can help cleanse the body of negative emotions. And how she has to gently correct those inquiring – while yoga as a practice can help the body and help bring wonderful emotions, it’s about being in the moment and experiencing all of life, in her view. That includes things we often call “negative” emotions, like fear, sadness, and anger.
I was really glad to read that, actually. Yes, those feelings are uncomfortable and no one enjoys having to experience the breath-stealing moments of fear, the electric hot fury of losing their temper or the bone-weary darkness of deep sorrow. But they’re part of life.
It reminded me, a little bit, of the movie Inside Out. Joy can’t figure out what Sadness’s job is. She feels like her fellow emotion doesn’t help. And then there’s a moment, where Bing Bong is very, very sad. Joy tries to be silly to cheer him up, and it isn’t working. She’s frustrated, and beginning to panic and turns away for just a moment. In that moment, Sadness sits down beside him and affirms what he’s feeling. She touches him, sits close, and listens to him just talk about it. She reassures him by being there with him in that moment and accepting that he feels sad. She allows him the space and time to feel. And it works. After a moment, the worst bits of the sorrow pass, and he takes a deep breath, says he’s better, and gets up to go on.
Joy is very confused, and doesn’t understand. She even asks Sadness what she did.
We need that. We need moments to be allowed to just BE whatever we are, even the so-called bad things. Should we wallow in those moments, and let them feed on themselves and grow beyond what is needful? No. Like everything, balance is needed. But sometimes, a good venting of anger, a good cry to release a sad feeling, or allowing our hearts to race with fear, and then take a deep breath and go on are exactly what is needed to help us stay mentally and emotionally healthy.
It’s stressful to be happy all the time. It feels forced, because it is.
I sometimes wonder if we get burned out on being happy, or upbeat, and that’s why people have to do progressively more extreme things to cheer themselves up or experience excitement.
I love giggling so hard I can’t breathe and cry tears of joy. But I just as much appreciate a movie that moves me to messy tears of grief, because in that moment, I can re-experience something in my past, or an important part of a story. I don’t enjoy being angry, but I can look back on how I’ve dealt with myself at various points of my life, when I was angry, and see how I’ve matured (or not – and thus have something else to learn and work toward as a goal). I don’t like scary movies, or being scared in general, particularly; but the moment of relief when I realize all is well or that I’ve at least made it through? That is wonderful! The feeling of being safe and sound is a wonderful thing to experience.
Sometimes, we experience all of these things at once. It’s what happens as we get older and grow. I loved that Inside Out showed that as well, with the core memories. I hope that slowly as we all age, we can all learn from people like the yogi who wrote the newsletter that turned up in my email as well. And learn to embrace, as best as they can, all of the emotions they have as well.
I know I can keep trying to do just that, on an almost daily basis.
So, you know those random quizzes that pop up on the internet? “What does your favorite color say about you?” “We can guess your favorite color!” There are more, but those are basically the themes. And of course, people will ask, often for perfectly mild reasons – they found a shirt they think you’d like, and it comes in a variety of colors, and they want to get one you’ll really like. Or they want to avoid one you hate!
I dislike those moments. The quizzes make me roll my eyes, if I’m in a particularly grumpy mood. Or I just pass them by if I’m in a good mood. I try very hard to answer close friends and family who ask. (Although, to be honest, most family have more or less learned not to bother or if they ask it’s more along the lines of “how do you feel about greens this week?”)
My dad worked in theater and television for a good bit of his life. He especially worked with lighting and stage design, but his card also allowed for costume work, and he did some design there, as well. Colors were tools that could shift your mood, tell you about the history of a place, or the rank of a person. I don’t remember if I ever asked him what his favorite color was. I knew he loved all colors for different reasons.
You could put a straw gold light gel in front of a lamp and get a certain mood out of how that light hits a set painted in terra cotta orange with red and yellow accents. It’s a hot, dry sort of feel. It’s the desert, or at least somewhere that might make you think of the desert. Or you can use a certain pale blue with a shimmery metallic gleam gel, cast down across a set painted in navy and indigo blues, with hints of turquoises, soft greens, gentle dove greys and the slightest hints of purple and aubergine – almost black – and you’re in an ocean, perhaps even at night. It’s so very cool and quiet.
A gentleman of a certain period – it isn’t just the fabrics he wears that declares him a gentle man to all who see him. If he is wearing vividly dyed fabrics with heavily saturated hue, he must have money! Those red and purples were hard to come by on trade routes, and only the most wealthy could afford them. Similarly, bright yellows could be dear, depending on where he lived at least.
So truly, I love all colors. I love autumn colors best, but there are days when a spring rainbow better suits my mood. And of course, a wintery rainy series of blues is surprisingly cozy and comforting, even while it might look chilly.
I look good, sometimes, in reds. But in reality, red is rarely a favorite. It’s so often a shade of pink that I find too pale, and too candy-like, rather than a good rich blood red, or brick red, or scarlet. I like salmon and coral, all right, but in some light, those shades turn to pink again, and it’s just too difficult to find one I can stomach. I’ve given up and bought some clothing, here and there, that is indeed pink. Mostly, because I wanted to fabric and the other colors were shades that were worse somehow.
I can also wear green, sometimes, depending. I think I look better in forest and olive and army greens, for example, as opposed to lime or pale mint. I’ve still bought those colors because, well, they’re still pretty. But sometimes I look very worn out wearing them, and people ask if I feel okay.
So no, I don’t like picking colors, particularly. I like all of them. And it’s more likely if I’m asked, I’ll ask you to explain why you want to know, so I can give you the best answer for the application you’re working in, for me. If you’re just asking, I might answer “all of them” or “rainbow” if I’m feeling particularly sassy.
One color people keep deciding I like, since I was a small child, is in fact red, pink, or any color along that general line. I’m often surprised at that. I understand that often, if I’m coloring my hair something non-natural, I lean toward red; but that’s because it looks good with my coloring more than anything. I’ve had it purple, and I’d secretly love to have it blue or mermaid or even rainbow. But until it turns more naturally white than it is now, I’m not going to have a lot of luck with that. My hair’s too dark, naturally, and the stripping process to get it that color is hard on it. I even have, as I’ve said, chosen to wear red before. Because it looks good on a brunette with a faint olive tint to her skin. But my favorite car color, so far, has been a deep, shimmery brown that made me think of silken chocolate and coffee. And yet, a salesmen recently encouraged me to try for a red number! (It wasn’t immediately available, so I went with grey – a titanium shade that luckily picks up other colors around it, so that’s bonus!)
But I remember even my parents, would hand me a red thing, another sister a purple thing, another a blue or yellow thing, and the other would get softer shades of browns, peaches, and earth tones. I always wished I could have those earth tones. Or at least the occasional green.
And these are, of course, all solid things! It’s not even getting into things like auras or chakras or other things that people say one might be, based on their moods or where their pain is locked up. The best one I ever read was an old DOS program, that decided my aura was silver, with flecks of lightning and yellow in. It just couldn’t decide. I haven’t really tried in a very long time to see what I’d be classified as, but for the longest time, roses and reds would come up, because I cared about relationships between friends and family and love.
These things are interesting to me, perhaps because I do think about how colors can describe a person – their nature or their characterization; and to me, red is a very angry or high intensity color.
I hope I’m not perceived as angry or constantly vibrating with emotions. I suspect I’m not. I suspect most people don’t even think about color that way. They just think, “This color looks awesome on her! She must love it.” And then they move along with their day, sparing not another thought to colors and how complicated they can be.
“Many happy returns” is a greeting which is used by some on birthdays, and by others in response to “Merry Christmas” and “Happy New Year .” Since the 18th century this has been used as a salutation to offer the hope that a happy day being marked would recur many more times. It is now primarily used, by some, on birthdays. Prior to the mid-19th century, it was used at any celebratory or festive event. The phrase is more common in British English, Indian English and Hiberno English than in Canadian English or American English.
Current usage is often as a more formal option than ‘Happy Birthday’. It is also often found on greetings cards.
I personally first learned it from Winnie-the-Pooh, who is a silly old bear.
Today, I know a few people who have birthdays, but I especially have been thinking of my friend, Judy.
She was originally introduced to me as J’wyldragon (a chat and journal handle) by our mutual friend ZorkFox (at the time, I knew him by the handle Scirocco as well his real name).
I’d gone to help Zork with a convention. He was working security, and it was a small con, but he was a little short on assistance. Since he knew that a) I was a responsible adult, b) I knew how to use a 2-way radio (he knew I’d worked previously as a dispatcher) and c) he trusted me to be said responsible adult, he’d asked if I could help. He also mentioned that it was possible that the volunteer department head might need some help in the form of gophers. (I had experience here, too, having participated in tech theater in college. And you know, as a kid, due to my dad. But that’s another story.)
So he introduced me to Judy (head of volunteers, known as Ops) and we just … clicked.
She swears she heard an audible click in her head when we met. As if another piece of her just appeared back in the world and fit right back together. I just remember thinking, “This lady. I can be completely me around her. She is awesome. She is keeping track of the exterior chaos around her and she knows how to tug on this or that to make it all just click. And she’s keeping people happy while she does it! She also has a wicked sense of humor and I’m pretty sure I adore that.”
Sure enough, we got along wonderfully, and I even went back to the convention a couple times (it used to be an annual thing, as fan conventions often are), simply to spend time with Zork and her, and others I met.
That was in the late ’90s, and we’ve been friends ever since.
We love seeing each other when we can, even though we live over 300 miles apart. We make it a point to try to see each other every July 4th we can manage it, to go to a local art show near where I live. And I try to make it up where she is when I can, just to visit. We can go long periods without really talking, and click right back together when we get back in touch. We are able to bounce things off each other, and ask for honest feedback; whether those things are painful or ridiculously, wonderful, silly plans for gifts for mutual friends. We share a love of books, art, music, playing games with friends, cats, dragons, fairies, and pretty things. We especially bond over getting people to giggle and be happy.
I have an aversion to calling anyone a best friend, for reasons I still haven’t completely explored; but if I were to fall back into the habit, J’wyl is definitely a person who would fall into that category. I love her very much, and she is the bestest dragoness I know.
I hope you’ve had a wonderful birthday, my dear sweet friend, and that the year which follows brings you many happy returns!
A friend posted a photo on Twitter recently, showing a library book she was reading that had notes in the margins. Someone had been writing notes in pen, either for their own edification, or for a class, or other study of some sort.1 Someone else followed later in pencil, critiquing the previous reader’s spelling and adopting a bit of tone. She captioned the photo tagging a mutual friend and mentioned he seemed like the sort who would write the second note, but said she knew better. He noted it couldn’t be him, because he didn’t write in all caps any more. I cut in and noted if I didn’t abhor writing in books, I’d wonder if I’d written the 2nd note (hashtag postitlover). At this point, yet another friend piped in with simply one word: “Marginalia!” At which point, I remembered a half-dozen things and mumbled I should write a blog about marginalia. Font Folly thought this would be a fun read. So. Here is a bit of un-packing of my thoughts.
In college (or high school, but I recall it the most in college), books are bought (really leased) and then later sold back in book stores, and you end up with used books that are loaded with notes; in the margins, on the page, within the tables, and along the lists.
If you were very lucky, you had a book that was previously used by a smart note-taker. More often, you have people who aren’t always paying complete attention to the teacher.
So I developed an extreme hatred for notes in the margin of biology, chemistry, history, political science and theory books. Even more, as I was an English major, I detested notes in the margins of novels; textbooks of essays, short stories, and poems; and plays. Because I could never experience the work unaffected by others. I never could get a first, unadulterated read.
I quickly discovered most professors had no sympathy for that argument:
“Just ignore it!”
But how do you ignore words on the page when you’re reading?
“Well, you ignore footnotes, don’t you?”
NO! They’re there to be read, and put there by the author or the editor! They’re intended to be part of the work.
“Wait, you actually read the footnotes?!”
Why wouldn’t I?!
“No one else does!”
Eventually, I figured out that not everyone reads in blocks and absorbs at least a general idea of the block of text at a quick glance.
I have to slow down significantly when reading aloud, because I can’t grab all of the text at once. It won’t come out of my mouth right. I recognize that’s not the best example. Everyone has to slow down a little bit to read aloud. Another example: I glance at a sign or ad block, or even a phone screen; and while I rarely get it exact, I can generally summarize what I saw without particularly trying. In fact, I have to work very hard to ignore or focus on just bits at a time. It’s a nice challenge, if I’m looking to do it. But if I’m trying to simply absorb the knowledge I’m reading, it’s a nuisance.
On the other hand, when I’m reading an article about how a historian or archeologist has discovered something new about monks, or normal people, based in part on the study of marginalia, and how those people were interacting with books and papers they found important at the time; I’m incredibly interested and want to read all about it! Yes, I even want to read those pages, myself! Because then it’s historical record, and in some way, my brain has decided it’s okay, even intended, to be experienced in such a way.
I do realize; it’s a hypocritical reaction. But I can’t deny I find the sociological implications very intriguing and even enthralling.
So I can’t say I hate marginalia. Because it’s more that I have a complicated relationship with it. I would prefer to use post it notes myself, when keeping notes2, and not have to see others’ notes when I’m studying something actively; but I do love that they exist and that there are things we can learn from them.
1. Honestly, I think the original reader was arguing with the text and couldn’t resist him or herself.
2. A reading journal would be awesome, but I’m not that organized and I recognize that about myself.
Haven’t blogged in a while.
Honestly not entirely sure what to write about now. But I thought I should check in for a few reasons.
NaNoWriMo – a bust this year. I did worse than last year, which is horribly disappointing. I have some ideas as to why: lack of discipline, an overabundance of depression (how ’bout that election, Fred?) and a bit of seasonal (but not seasonal affective disorder) depression. All are legitimate reasons for my failure, both at 50,000 words and my sub-goal of beating last year’s total (I wanted to manage at least 30,000 words). The very bitchy part of myself says I should have been able to push past those things. And maybe if it had been 2 of 3, I could have. But 3 of 3 was too much this year, and I’m trying to give myself a pass. I did succeed in updating my Scrivener app so I can write on my iPad which is easier to carry than the laptop, and even DID write out and about at least 3 separate times. I just need to make an effort to improve. So, I will.
Not listed in the argh above is the stress of planning a home purchase and move. We haven’t packed as much as I’d like, and it’s throwing off holidays and other things. It probably even contributed to NaNo#Fail. But it’s coming along and hopefully, things will be finalized next month and we’ll be in our first house. It’s the first one I’ve owned, and my hubby is treating it as the first one he has owned – even though technically it’s not – because it’s been so long since the last purchase, and it’s so different, being a stick frame built as opposed to a manufactured placed on a foundation.
Various awesome things have happened this year. Various ugh things have happened this year. Mostly, I’ve wanted to vent about the ugh things, but I don’t feel 100% safe doing that in this space, and haven’t. I’m not entirely sure how I want to deal with that, but I’ve found a tiny steam valve and am starting to use it a bit more. I think it’s safe, so we’ll see how that goes. It’s a short form location though, and sometimes, I want long form. So it could very well change in the future.
Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday. And the anniversary of his death. He’s been gone 12 years, as of roughly 8am (slightly earlier, if I recall correctly) tomorrow morning, and there are days when I miss him dreadfully. On Christmas night, it will be the anniversary of mom’s death. She’ll have been gone 6 years. I’ve missed her worse this year than in a very long time. Most of that is the election. Some of that is the house. Some of it is a couple of movies I really think she’d have enjoyed so much. Sometimes, I blog specifically about those days. But this year, work is… work. And I don’t think I’ll have that luxury, so I’m just going to leave this hear and remember them as best I can in the moment.
I wish the merriest of Christmases, and the happiest of holidays to all of you. Whether you’re a dear friend who happens to stumble on this space and we speak daily, or you’re a stranger who just sees it in passing, know that there is a person in the world who does, honestly, hope that everyone is able to enjoy a moment of pure joy this season. We all deserve it, no matter what anyone anywhere says or does.