Achy hips. A bad shoulder. Crow’s feet. A mortgage that I pay with paper checks. The realization that it has been almost twenty years since I graduated high school. At this point, it should be beyond clear that I am a full-fledged, full-grown adult. (Well, unless you ask my daughter who, after seeing me try on a pair of jeans that ended up being too long, told me it was okay because I would grow into them.)
Confession, though–I don’t always feel like a grown-up. In some ways, eighteen feels like yesterday. Driving my Neon, living in an off-campus apartment with my best friend, fitting into size 5 jeans, using my VCR to record shows while I was in class. I remember that girl–that version of me–so vividly that sometimes this older me feels like an impostor.
Sometimes when my children call out “Mom,” my brain reacts as if they had spoken a foreign language. Mom? Who me? Are you sure you have the right person?
My kids are seven and eight, and it’s still hard to believe that I’m in charge of them, that I’m the one that gets to decide what’s best for them. (Side note: I really hate making decisions. Why are there so many of them in parenting?)
Last year I decided, after much consideration and my husband’s full support, to homeschool my children. So now in addition to mom, I’m teacher. Cue the self-doubt. Who am I to teach them? Will my methods be effective? Will I have the patience to teach? What if I forget something important, like the i before e rule or how many pints are in a gallon, that leaves gaps in their education? Will I cause my daughters to become awkward, friendless adults who don’t know their multiplication tables? I mean really, who gave me the power to make this life-changing decision? (On a side-note, my husband has no such self-doubts about his title of principal of our school.)
Motherhood isn’t the only place where I have doubted myself, where I have felt like I was just playing a part at times. It also happened when I was in book clubs and a bible study group, and it would be like I was onstage and had forgotten my lines.
The area of my life where impostor syndrome hits the hardest, though, is with my writing. There have been more than a handful of times when I have written a whole post for this blog only to delete it because really, who am I? Who will care what I write or think?
As an introvert, I spend a great deal of time inside my head. So naturally I have found myself wondering why I haven’t finished my novel yet. I can make (somewhat legitimate) excuses about not having the time or energy after spending each day taking care of my kids and household. But if I am honest with myself, the biggest roadblock is fear. What if my book totally bombs and people laugh at my failure? Alternatively, what if it’s a success and I have to do a book tour and media interviews where I panic and pass out, throw up, or sound like a complete idiot? I can see a neon “Fraud” sign on my head in either case. A writer? Ha! Not her.
But you know what? With age comes wisdom. I know it doesn’t really matter what people think about about my writing. I am a writer. I’ve felt it in my soul since I was a child. So I will continue on, editing and polishing my novel, and shaking off my impostor shackles. I will remind my children that I am the mom the next time they complain about having chicken for dinner again or having to redo a subtraction problem. And I will stop being afraid to speak my mind–or at least I’ll work on it. Progress over perfection, my lovely readers.