I had an epiphany while writing the blog post about imposter syndrome. The last section about believing compliments made me think about the first time imposter syndrome showed up in my life. I can’t believe this connection just popped into my head.
It was a compliment that made me want to be a writer in the first place. In the second grade, my teacher Ms. Hannah praised my story about the cow whose spots disappeared after offending a witch. I don’t remember her words, but I felt like I was the best writer ever.
So, in the third grade when we had to write short stories for St. Patrick’s Day, I expected my leprechaun story to be the best in class. Spoiler, it wasn’t. I don’t think I ever told anyone, but I was crushed. However, I didn’t let that change my mind. I still wanted to be a writer.
Looking back, overconfidence was the problem. I didn’t put a lot of effort into the story. I thought I was a natural and it would just flow out of me. It wasn’t until I started taking writing classes and reading craft books that I understood, at least for me, I needed to do more than spit out words on a page. I needed to put thought into it and edit it.
Thinking about it now while writing that blog post, I wonder if it was the letdown after being so confident that first gave life to my imposter syndrome. And then over the years, micro-moments reinforcing it.
Am I afraid to believe in compliments because I don’t want it to lead to overconfidence and letdown again? Probably. But as an adult, I know you can achieve a sort of balance. I can believe a compliment without thinking I’m the best. I can have failure without thinking I’m the worst. And I can learn in everything I do.