Imposter Syndrome?

It’s said that before her death, Emily Dickinson made her sister Lavinia promise to burn all her poems and letters. While she did burn some of her letters, Lavinia broke the promise and chose not to destroy the almost 1800 poems that she discovered. How lucky we are that she made that choice and went on with the help of others to see that they were published. Dickinson biographers agree that Emily made very few efforts to be published before her death. After being told that her style was untraditional of the time and just didn’t fit, she may have been discouraged, but even if that were true, it certainly didn’t stop her from writing prolifically.

Could she have had “imposter syndrome”? That evil green eyed monster of a virus that attacks our confidence and tells us that we aren’t good enough at whatever it is that we want to do? I had a serious bout with that this morning as I was trying to choose which Carol and Emily poem to share on today’s post. I probably read 20 different poems and found something wrong with every one of them, even the one I posted below. I know I’m my own harshest critic and the battle not to be is constant and real.

Above my desk , I keep the card I received with my award certificate from the Story Summit last year. It has 4 all important words on it. “You are a writer!” It’s there to remind me on days like this, when I doubt myself, that I really am.

No matter what field or life stage you’re in, the imposter syndrome can slither its way into your brain. The trick is to surround yourself with encouragers and encouragements in whatever form works for you. Emily apparently had few encouragers, but we have to believe that she found encouragements and inspiration everywhere in the rich microcosm of her secluded life. Her 1775 poems tell us that.

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