Imposter Syndrome

I debated on whether I would write this post, but I feel compelled to do so. I’m taking it as my moment to stop feeling like an imposter or to at least remember that I’ve worked really hard on publishing poems in the last few years.

Imposter syndrome is something I’ve had as a writer probably since leaving undergrad. It’s the feeling that I’m not qualified enough and that I’ll be outed as a phony any moment. But I read a recent Harvard Business Review article that has me questioning the problem — perhaps it isn’t just feeling but a problem with the systems that oppress others?

What’s less explored is why imposter syndrome exists in the first place and what role workplace systems play in fostering and exacerbating it in women. We think there’s room to question imposter syndrome as the reason women may be inclined to distrust their success.

The impact of systemic racism, classism, xenophobia, and other biases was categorically absent when the concept of imposter syndrome was developed.

Is that the case with me? I don’t know that it is. I’m not a social scientist.

My new question is: how can I be a fake poet? What would that even look like?

I do have insecurities about the lack of an MFA — a conversation I had recently with a couple poets I know. I’ve sought advice, and I hope that I can internalize it and change my mindset. A lot of my imposter syndrome is internal – I read widely and write poems (not as consistently as I’d like).

I’m also not willing to go into debt to achieve an MFA. I just can’t put my family in that hole when so many depend on me, and for real, it would really just be a formalized way of getting more time to write. But as a major income in my house, carving out that time is hard enough without having to please professors, etc. I’d rather just use the little time I have for creative writing to write!

Is the lack of MFA the only reason I feel like an imposter? Probably not. It also could be because I don’t talk the poet-talk. I don’t speak in metaphor, and I don’t present myself as an academic at all. I may know things, I just don’t talk about them like many writers do.

Am I really an imposter?

No. I write poems. I work hard to refine them. I submit them periodically if not monthly to journals. I am working on a manuscript. I will complete all of these things while working full time and raising a child and caring for other family members. All of these things take time, commitment, and work. I am not an imposter.