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Cinderella and her ugly sisters: How to put Imposter Syndrome in her place

Imposter syndrome has been alive and well in my house this week. Every time I sat down to write, to do something creative, a little voice piped up.

You?! You can’t do that! Sure you’ve written some ok stuff over the last 6 months but there’s nothing left now… is there.

The voice even has a face, a persona, she looks and sounds just like one of the ugly sisters from Cinderella.

The energy to fight back has been almost non-existent. Tormented by a double ear infection, deaf to the outside world, her voice has been getting louder and taking over the silent muffled spots.

“You are nearly 40, what have you really accomplished?”

“The best of life has passed you by, give up now”

“Who are YOU to think you can write a book?”

“All your life you’ve been mediocre and nothing has changed”

It’s no surprise that she’s decided to chime in now. This week, I’m completing my first paid regular writing gig over at Introvert, Dear. And although I successfully pitched 4 out of 5 articles last year, she thinks I’m going to fall flat on my face at the first hurdle this year.

The barrage is almost over though. I can feel her running out of fuel as I slowly but surely find my voice again. And the way I’m doing that? Telling her WHO I AM.

I know for a fact i’m not alone in the struggle against imposter syndrome. It’s common, and you have likely felt it to some extent in your life too. Perhaps that time when you aced your finals but you figured they had marked you wrong? Or the time you scored your dream job and you wondered if they got you mixed up with the previous interviewee? Or was it when you married your partner but figured it might only last a few years, until he or she discovered who you really were (kinda like Cinderella ‘waking up’ when the clock struck midnight).

What I’ve come to realize this week is that Imposter Syndrome is just that – a syndrome. It’s not the core of the issue. The ugly sister is just the fluff and fanfare that surrounds the root of the problem. And the root needs yanking out to put Drizella in her place once and for all.

The root of Imposter Syndrome

The root of Imposter Syndrome is likely to be different for everyone. But for me it stems from a deep dark and very strong root – “Who am I?” For me it’s about belonging, and lineage. As someone who was adopted at birth I’ve not known my lineage. I don’t have a line of people who have gone before to show me who I am. Or perhaps, more importantly, who I could be. There is no family history to draw on, to compare with, to draw strength from. Whilst for some people a clean slate might be appealing, for whatever reason I feel like this blank slate is why I’ve floundered somewhat for the past few decades.

Without giving Grizella full credit, the truth of the matter is that I have tried on many hats so far, and I don’t know that i’m finished yet. And while I do believe that I can do anything, 2018 is my year to settle (somewhat). Last year my word of the year was create, and that I did (20,000+ words and counting). This year, my word for the year is FOCUS. This year my youngest daughter starts school. And every week she is getting more and more independent. I finally feel as though I can focus now on who I am and what I have to offer the world.

And part of that is figuring out who this ‘me’ is. Knowing yourself is one of the best survival tools for life’s trials. And it’s a never-ending process as we grow and change constantly. I might come to know myself this year, but next year I’ll probably need to get to know myself all over again.

The other day I sat down to write a few sentences about what I already knew. It was such a useful exercise and I highly recommend everyone do something similar once a year. For me, this exercise is my answer to Imposter syndrome.

So…. who am I?

  • Someone who believes more and more in the magic of God and everything God is… which is, er, everything
  • An introvert who needs a certain amount of alone time to function as a mother, wife and friend
  • A reformed perfectionist. Someone who is quietly enjoying and embracing the mediocre in life
  • A lover of nature and hater of excess stuff and clutter (can I live in a forest in a cabin please?)
  • A good good mom who is doing the best but stuffing up lots on the way (que the time my youngest said the F word at daycare)
  • Someone who craves authenticity and honesty from myself and those around me
  • A writer. A creator. An author.

Who are you?

Don’t be shy. Get to know yourself. Claim your successes and failures and get up and try again.


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