It’s Monday, and I’m having my quiet time. I have hit the ground running this morning, having dusted, hoovered and paid the Beaver Scout subs into the bank all before 9.30am; and I am now at my desk with a coffee listening to the birdsong through the open window. It is a stunning early Spring morning, my plum tree is budding and the dunnock is still singing his wee heart out.
This blog idea comes courtesy of my lovely friend Tori. I have a lot of lovely friends, and we spend a fair bit of our time nattering on social media, solving the world’s problems and generally being awesome women. I think it’s fair to say – and I don’t think they will mind me saying this – that we all have issues and problems in our lives that sometimes seem to overwhelm us, and one of the things we have all noticed recently is our proclivity towards feeling as though we are frauds and, whilst I wouldn’t consider any of us to be real candidates for Imposter Syndrome in the eyes of a psychiatrist (which I most definitely am not); there does seem to be an alarming propensity to put ourselves down as though we are about to come undone and unmasked as talent-less pretenders.
Our number includes some of the most artistic and creative people I have been lucky enough to know; artists across all media, writers, creators with the most amazing imaginations – and yes, in boringly predictable style, I was immediately going to type some off-the-cuff comment like ‘I have no idea why they like me / praise me / think my work is good’. See?
Case in point:
Village friend – ” Jac, your little crocheted birds are delightful, these will look tremendous in the craft-bomb, thank you so much for doing them, you’re so talented, I’d love to be able to crochet”
Me – “I can’t knit, though, and I rubbish at everything else I have ever tried ever”.
Internal Me – “Oh my god, can’t she see that this is just a fluke and I’m hopeless at everything, oh god, what will they think when they find out I’m a rubbish crafter who just happened to make these birds look OK”.
Despite how many times I look around at things I have crocheted, the blankets, the scarves, the bunting, the baby-blankets I see my friends actually using, the bag, the ludicrous poncho; however much I touch them and use them and wash them and they don’t fall apart; there is part of me that has convinced myself that I can’t actually crochet at all, and that these things have just appeared as some kind of happy accident with yarn.
Another friend feels the same way about her job; despite being more qualified and experienced than required of the job, she is convinced that she has no business being there. I feel similarly about my role as a Beaver Scout leader – praise or words of appreciation from a parent leave me genuinely gobsmacked.
Why do we do it? I wonder if part of it is a misguided sense of modesty that was instilled into many of us as children. How many times were we told that it was not OK to brag, that ‘nobody likes a show-off’ and our strengths and talents downplayed as not to appear boastful or to cause another person to feel inferior? Has this worked on us for so long that now we don’t just naturally downplay our strengths but actively seek to destroy any notion that we might just actually be quite good at something? To appreciate that you might have a particular skill-set, be it coding, painting skirting boards, pruning fruit trees or making quilts still feels somewhat boastful and awkward.
I suspect that our increasingly filtered and beautified world of social media also plays a part; where every selfie can be manipulated almost beyond recognition; every piece of handiwork lit with a sumptuous filter; and every house can look like something from a magazine (except mine, unless the magazine happens to be ‘Falling Apart Rented Ex Local Authority Tin Roofed Nightmare Monthly’); we live in a world where the lines between real and contrived are becoming increasingly blurred.
This week, then, I have promised myself to say f%c& you to the fraud police. I’d like to make this into a wider campaign, so do please feel free to join in.
I can crochet rather well. I can cook rather well. I’m pretty handy in a vegetable garden. I’m a pretty good Beaver Scout leader and I make the children laugh and they come back every week, I haven’t scared any off yet.
I still can’t knit, but that’s OK.
Have a picture of daffodils. Without a filter. Just because.