Your Best Villain Is Yourself

I waffled on how to approach this entry. I want to share my entire writing journey with all of you, but I also do not want to be the whiner in the corner. This will probably still be whining, but hey, we’re going to give it our all!

I want to talk about Imposter Syndrome and how it can kill your dreams before you even get started. I like to fancy myself a pretty decent writer. I have been writing in one form, or another, since I was a very young. I still have a play I wrote in the fifth grade. I should dig it out for you to enjoy its adorable crush I had on a boy I wrote into the play. That’s for another time!

What is Imposter Syndrome? The short version: A person who thinks they don’t deserve the accolades they have received and that they will be discovered as a fraud at whatever they are doing.

Click Here for American Psychological Association Article to give you a bigger picture.

I first felt this when I became a software engineer for a company. Several factors contributed to this, but the primary one is that my husband works for the company (for 12 years now) and we were dating when I got hired. About a year, or so, into my position with this company, our HR department had a large meeting to get a pulse on how we felt about the company. It came out that almost all the 50 software engineers (of all levels) felt the same way as I did.

I transitioned into User Interface User Experience (UIUX) Design a few months later and have been doing that since for the company. It has been a Godsend, and I am much better a my career than I ever was at software engineering. That does not mean I can’t do it, or that I was an imposter. But I taught a majority of my programming skills to myself and went back to school after the fact. I do, in fact, have a Bachelor’s of Science in Information Technology with an emphasis on software. It sounds so fancy.

I wrote where people who were not grading me starting in 1998 on a now defunct website, It was purchased by the Go Network and then quickly disbanded. The “friends” I made there migrated from site to site, until we all landed in a place called Ethereal Realms. This is all important because it is where I fell in love with the idea of writing the story by myself, versus the fan-fiction I was writing with other people. It is also where I first learned to write code and led to my love affair with front-end web development. I would spend hours upon hours writing with other people. Writing stories about anything and everything. I was at my happiest when I was writing three, or four, stories a night with people.

My ego really loved that people sought after me to write with. It made me believe in myself as a writer.

I left the community wholesale in 2015. The toxic environment the whole community became took its toll on my mental health. It manifested in physical illness and I put down the stories for five long years. I did not write a single world for five years. No fan-fiction, no original stories, and I was miserable. In this time, I met my beautiful second husband, and grew as a person (privately and professionally). In 2020 my husband convinced me to pick up the story writing again. He masterfully joined me and we have collaboratively roleplayed out several amazing stories. Telling those stories together brought us closer together, and with his encouragement I reached out to people I wanted to write with again. For the most part, it has been wonderful. There are a couple that have hurt my feelings, but that’s on me for letting them.

I decided that since my yarn business is pretty much dead in the water until COVID gets sorted, I wanted to pursue something that fulfills my writing need. I started writing the stories my husband and I had roleplayed through. I love the stories, all of them. I can see the characters, hear them, and feel them. I laugh and cry for them. There is a tiny part of me in each and every one of them. Or a tiny part of my husband.

Only, my expectations of other people loving them was much higher. I thought for sure they would love our stories as much as I do. And there are those that do! Don’t get me wrong. I am not discounting that there are people who are buying my things. But I still feel like a fraud. Like I am only good enough to role play, but not good enough to carry a novel. That people are looking at my stories and rolling their eyes. By my own (too high) standards I am only mediocre.

This is why you are your best villain. Don’t listen to yourself. Even if no one else ever buys my books, there are people who -did- buy it. There are people who followed me off AnyStories because they loved my stories! There are people asking for more stories. People who cheer me on and got thoroughly into my characters! You are only an imposter if you do not chase your dreams. I can only get better and publish more.

And you know what? I am an author. I’m not an imposter.