Feeling like a Fraud

So, as some of you who read my other blog know, this weekend was EPIC! I actually finished the last major pass of revisions on my young adult novel.  What I didn’t mention on my other blog was the difficulty I had pushing through the last 50 pages. With every word, I kept thinking “man I suck at this.” “There is NO WAY I can do this.” “I am such a fraud.”

Fraud.

That’s a pretty strong word.

Fraud.

Many emotionally intense people wrestle with fraud-like feelings. Every day. And yes, by many I am including myself. No matter what nice emails I receive from readers, or the nice words from my beta readers when they critique my novels, I still feel like a fraud most days.

When I chat with my friends, the majority feel the same way – more often than they’d like to admit too. And the intense kids that I talk to…yeah, they feel the same way!

But why…why do we feel like a fraud, despite all evidence to the contrary? I think it has to do with some of the following factors:

  • Self Esteem – Many creative people (and GT people) wrestle with esteem, or their overall picture of themselves and their ability to connect with peers and function in the world. Esteem is different from self-efficacy, which refers to a belief in one’s ability to be successful at a certain task. Gifted kids typically have great self-efficacy and lousy self-esteem. I think the esteem difficulties has a lot to do with what it means to be gifted, and goes back to what we talked about last week – the need of the child to develop an INTERNAL sense of self that is positive, and not dependent on outside feedback. All too often we allow our gifted kids to constantly seek approval outside of themselves. As parents, we over-help and maybe even over-protect – all in the name of advocating for our kids. Now, don’t get me wrong – it IS important to advocate for or kids…but he HAVE TO make sure we are teaching and guiding our children to find an INTERNAL positive high regard. That is the best way to develop a healthy self-esteem.
  • Praise – Praise – or rather the type of praise that typically occurs at home and at school – is another factor that I think contributes to this imposter problem. Too often praise is given without being linked to a specific act. We say things like “You’re so smart, Johnny” or “Great job. You just do all of this so well.”  These statements are generic and do not help the child. They provide feedback that is not specific and  while it feels good to hear it, it sets up the problem of searching outside of ones self to find validation. If we connect the praise to specific actions – “Johnny, that is a great picture you drew. I love the detail in te landscape,” or “Becky, thank you for cleaning your room this morning without being reminded. That really helps all of us.” – the chid understands why the praise is given and links it to their actions – not use is as a means to validate their existence.
  • The Nature of Creativity and Giftedness – And finally, the biggest contributor to this imposter syndrome is the nature of creativity and giftedness themselves. Having a brain that makes immediate connections between seemingly unrelated things is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, our brains lie – making connections that are WRONG. Ha! Try convincing a gifted kid of that!!! But it is true. I think some of the Imposter Syndrome comes into play as a gifted child – or adult – begins to see the errors in connections that the brain has made and automatically forms a new connection…mistake = stupid which means I can not be gifted. Another lie from our brain. We have to teach our kids how to discern correct from incorrect information if we are going to help them correct their thought processes on this stuff.

 

So, what do you think? Do you feel like an imposter – a fraud – at times??

 

7 thoughts on “Feeling like a Fraud

  1. Tom

    One thing I felt was that in school we are expected to get A’s, but it seemed A’s were given out like soda from a vending machine. They were give to everyone (it seemed), so I devalued school entirely. Later there was such a heavy weight on GPA getting into college, and into grad school that I felt very much like an imposter getting in and later graduating. It wasn’t until my Masters work that I even received solid grades, until then I was just scoring well on the tests.

  2. Benoit

    Yes, you are a fraud, Christine !
    Because you are not what you think you should be…and you believe that you have to be what you believe you have to be😉
    All these inner beliefs begin early in childhood where parents, religion and culture were shaping the inner-way-of-seeing-the-world.
    Even the term “gifted” is loaded with so expectations…You’re just clever to “see” that you’re not free from your childhood !😉
    Call yourself “not free” but not “fraud”…

  3. I remember in 5th and 6th grade being in H.A.P.P. (High Academic Performance Program) and feeling like I was the dumbest one in the group. I sucked at math (though usually in the highest group, but struggling to stay there), I sucked at the problem solving tasks, but I excelled in reading, (vocabulary and reading with proper emotion), comprehension and writing –but then so did everyone else in the group–except they were better at math and problem solving (critical thinking). So, yeah, I felt like a fraud–especially when we were doing some math problems and one of the boys, said, “why is she even here?” Thankfully, another boy stood up for me and said, “because she’s a good reader!” (thank you, Bob Brown). The boy asking why I was even here (in the HAPP program) wasn’t trying to be mean –he really wanted to know –and frankly, I had my doubts as well.

  4. I’m glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels this way about their writing. It doesn’t help when you read books like The Hunger Games and wonder how you could even be fooling yourself. Of course if you then read a book that isn’t so brilliant, it does wonders in reinstalling faith in yourself.😀

    Great post, Christine!

  5. Pingback: Feeling like a Fraud – part 2! « An Intense Life

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