It’s been almost a month since the official launch date of Amy Cole has lost her mind. In this time I’ve had newspaper coverage, I’ve recorded a television interview on Novel Ideas and I’m set to appear on Radio Ulster at the end of the month. The launch night went better than I could have hoped, the reviews have been overwhelmingly positive and sales since then have been ticking along nicely.
I should be over the moon, right? Let’s face it, this is me we’re talking about – when am I ever happy?
Instead of just feeling warm in the glow of this accomplishment (one that I never thought I’d actually go through with) I can feel myself getting overwhelmed by fear of being found out as a total fraud.
Bye-bye depression, hello Imposter Syndrome! Never a dull moment in this brain.
If you Google this term it will come back with: Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
This was never more evident than when the producer at Novel Ideas asked me to say my name and my title. I could not think of the words, I had to ask her what she meant. The word she was looking for was ‘author’ but even as I sat there with an actual hardcopy of the book in my lap I ended up saying: “Eh author, I guess?”
What the hell is that about?
This isn’t a new thing. In everyday things I was always minimising who I was, what I did or tried to play things down. In jobs and my personal life I had this little niggling voice in my brain saying: “They’re going to find out you’re not who they think you are.”
There was a constant underlying fight or flight scenario in my head in case I was actually ‘found out’.
When Health Visitors called for the routine check-ups there was a ridiculous notion in my head that they would ask a question I couldn’t answer and this whole motherhood charade would come crashing down around me and my kids would be taken away. Now, if they called I would handily have their bags packed (I kid, calm down).
However, this pattern of thinking hit a road block after I went to get some photos taken for PR purposes. I had followed Jess Lowe’s work on weddings for years and when I saw she was branching out into business headshots I was delighted. I swooned over these lovely relaxed looking individuals with incredible, unique looking shots and it was a no-brainer to go with her.
This was late last year and I was pretty much a mess at this time so I wasn’t expecting a miracle. I was hideously anxious and never felt more ridiculous than when I was going to meet her and actually go through with this. I felt like I was wasting this woman’s time and she was going to figure out exactly that within about three minutes of meeting me.
Instead I spent over an hour with a genuinely nice person, who was kind to me. She put me at ease and gave me some advice that I repeated from that day right up until the launch. I mean, she put on Arcade Fire in the background while we worked so of course she’s awesome.
A simple sentence that she, no doubt, didn’t think of after she said it but it really changed things for me. And that magical advice was, I hear you ask?
“So what? Fake it till you make it.”
Nothing earth shattering, nothing I haven’t heard before but for some reason that sentence, on that day made me think: I can make a plan, figure out the rest as I go along and get this book done.
So I did.
I plodded along the next day, the day after that and so on until 25th May where I stood in front of a room of people and thanked them for being at the launch of this book.
I faked it until I made it come true.
There may be a part of me that will panic at the thought of doing more promotion on Amy Cole but it certainly won’t stop me. I spent years letting fear stop me from doing so many things and I swore that would stop, it’s the only New Year’s resolution I hope to keep.
The point is: I hope that there’s someone reading this who can relate to this imposter syndrome but now you know that doesn’t have to stop you from doing each and every thing you want to with your life.
Take if from Jess: fake it till you make it and see what amazing things you’re capable of.