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.”
That’s a pretty strong word.
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??