I think the kids have moved on from playing the “Among Us” game on their phones, just when I had started to understand how to play it! The gist of it is one or two people are designated imposters, trying to kill off the other characters on the spaceship as everyone else is trying to find the “sus." It’s like Clue but more interactive.
I was thinking about the imposter idea over the past two weeks. And part of that is why I never got a blog post written last week.
I’m not sure how many people have heard of “imposter syndrome” but I’m going to hazard a guess that a lot have felt it at some point or another: the feeling that despite being completely competent at (x) you feel that you’ve got no idea what you are doing and people just haven’t figured that out yet!
It’s not that I feel incompetent at things. In fact, I have adequate skills in a few areas. Years of lessons and education and practice do have their payoffs! Where I do lack confidence is in sharing those things with others, especially when the audience includes people far more qualified than I am.
These weeks leading up to Christmas have really exposed that for me.
Playing some Christmas music on the piano? No problem.
Playing some Christmas music to share on FaceBook Live?
Sure, except that I have numerous career musicians and at least two professional pianists on my friends list. Yikes.
Making sets of painted Christmas characters to decorate our yard? Love it. It’s a yearly tradition, plus I haven’t stopped making things since I was a kid.
Taking those sets to the Pike Lake festival of lights for other people to see?
Not prepared for the compliments and congratulations, considering it’s just tracing, cutting, and painting.
Writing this blog? Cathartic. There are words that build up inside me that don’t have any other outlet. Once I week, this sets them free.
Writing this blog for the internet? Much more difficult. The audience might be no one. Or a student. Or a colleague. Or a stranger. Or someone infinitely smarter than I am that wonders who the hell do I think I am to put ideas out to the world?
You probably won’t want to hear about the internal debate I had on sending out our annual Christmas letter! I never kept baby books for my kids. My recollection isn’t always the best. And so it’s the one thing I do each year that preserves memories for my kids’ sakes, but mine too. It also feels like a completely self-absorbed exercise that probably comes off as entitled and narcissistic.
Yet, I did every single one of those things.
For two reasons, mostly. First, because I know that it brings people joy. It makes them happy.
“Such a beautiful selection of the oldies and goodies, putting me well into the Christmas spirit. Thank you!”
“Thanks so much for the Christmas memories! Only made me cry a little.”
“Great job on your display! We drove down to put us in the Christmas Spirit (maybe more so to alleviate some covid stress) and thoroughly enjoyed it. Even drove through it twice!”
“We saw this tonight! It was wonderful! So thankful for people who make these things happen!”
Oh, and two phones calls from aunties to remind me how much they appreciate a card and a letter.
At this point, I start to think that I won’t post this. Because sharing things, whether it’s a picture of the display at Pike Lake or the dialogue going on in my head, means that you open yourself up for feedback.
For someone who relates to imposter syndrome, critical feedback isn’t just welcome, it’s expected. You are anticipating that someone will tell you what you needed to do better…which is fine, because you already have your own list of a dozen things you should have done differently.
It’s the positive feedback that is hard to take.
Weird, right? And so, there is a fear of sharing in case it is interpreted as fishing for compliments…which is the exact opposite of what someone with imposter syndrome is actually looking for.
But there’s a second reason.
And it's one that is strong enough to override those fears. Actually, it’s a quote that says, “Use the talents you possess: the woods would be silent if no birds sang except the best.”
It’s okay to do the best that you can, and be mediocre.
It’s okay to do something that you like, without striving to be the best at it.
It’s okay to try something and suck at it.
It’s okay to not be okay.
And it’s okay to just be okay.
If I only ever played music, created something, or wrote when I was sure that it was going to be amazing….I’d never do any of those things.
If we waited for only the very best musicians, artists, or writers to fill the world with their skills…there wouldn’t be much music, art, or literature in our world at all. Of course, this isn't just about those things. It's about all the things.
Our kids used to do the Kids of Steel Triathlon when they were very little. Before they would start we would tell them, “It's not about being first. It’s about finishing.”
And doesn’t that apply to us all? And in so many aspects of our lives?
Which is why, even with great trepidation, I’m pressing publish on this post!
And why I’ll see you again next week too.
Perpetual amateur. Lifelong learner. Vice-Principal. Teacher. Musician. Mom. Annnnd if you're reading this, then I'm still a blogger.