I’m trying to write a book.
I say “trying”, because I’ve written down thousands of words only to close the file, close the application, and shelve it. Repeatedly. Predictably. Sometimes for days, sometimes for months.
Here’s what happens.
It’s been done before.
The book on my mind — one that’s been rattling around for quite a while, centers on imposter syndrome, and specifically the feeling of being “too much” of something.
Mostly because my whole life I’ve been told I’m:
- Too overweight
- Too outspoken
- Too opinionated
- Too aggressive
- Too ambitious
- Too quirky
- Too lazy
- Too sensitive
- Too strong-willed
Or some variation of the above. It’s a special kind of imposter syndrome when the outside world is always telling you that you’re too much of something when in your heart and soul you never, ever feel like enough.
But I’m so afraid someone else has done it better than I have.
Brené Brown has built a veritable empire on the back of shame research, and the concept of showing up as our whole selves, bravely, without giving into the temptation to armor up, go on the defensive, and leave emotion on the side because it’s not “safe”.
So what do I possibly have to contribute to this topic?
I’m not a researcher. Or a psychologist. Or a billionaire.
Who on EARTH cares what I have to say?
I’m trying really hard to keep writing. Even when it’s through tears, or when I’m shaking my head the whole time.
My beloved horseback riding trainer, Margaret, is always on my case about judging my less-than-perfect rides.
I’ll come up to a fence with my horse, miss, it ends up messy, and I shake my head all the way around the ring wallowing in my frustration rather than just setting it aside to ride the next one. “SO JUDGY,” she’ll call out. And she’s right.
I do this a lot, looking at all the reasons why I’m not qualified to write this thing. Or why no one will read it. Or why what I have to say isn’t valuable to anyone. Or why I’m going to fail, again, and not be able to recover from it this time. Or why I don’t have the “platform” (as the publishers say) or the influence or the anything to sell a book that anyone will remotely care about.
So in many ways, I’m the perfect meta case study for my own damned book.
Which of course makes me feel less qualified than ever. Who wants to hear from a person who is wrestling with this and hasn’t completely and neatly vanquished it yet, complete with a workbook and framework and online course to go with it?
“Too much” is simply the reflection of “not enough”. And maybe there’s value in us all navigating this together.
I’m still writing.
I don’t know if any of those words will ever see the light of day. My decision on that changes almost by the hour depending on the shades of worthlessness and self-doubt I’m feeling in the moment (thank GOD I have an amazing therapist).
In some ways, I’m the world’s worst advisor on this topic. In many ways, that might make me the best.
My experiment of removing myself from 3 of my 4 main social networks has had interesting color on this, which I’ll share soon. But suffice it to say that it’s both empowering to find new ways to spend your time, and scary when you take away an “audience” in favor of sitting with your own voice for a while.
I know I have a lot to share. I’m learning to accept that maybe – maybe – I have a unique voice and skill with which to share it. I’m still working on believing that, but I’m trying. It’s a daily conversation with myself.
If you’ve got stories about your own experiences with being too much or not enough, I’d love to hear from you. There’s a lot we can learn from each other.
In the meantime, that Scrivener icon is staring at me from the sidebar. Again. So I guess I’ll click, and see how unworthy – or not – I really am.