Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Insecure Writers, Christmas Edition

I hope we all know the routine by now. Alex J Cavanaugh started the Insecure Writers Support group a few months ago as a chance for all of us to vent our fears/frustrations about writing and to encourage one another. So, please go sign up, or, if you’re one of those writers that doesn’t struggle with confidence, then go and encourage all your fledgling brethren.

Last month, Nancy, who is a mental health expert in the real world, mentioned that the imposter syndrome plagues many people. But then I was thinking, does it still count when you have imposter syndrome but you've not had any success either?

A lot of this goes back to knowing your station in life. I spent many of my formative years living with relatives, grandparents, aunts and uncles, before my mother scrounged up the funds to put us in a sweet little trailer on a farm.

I’m not sure of the relationship we had with the farm owners, but we eventually wore out our welcome and had to move. We took that trailer and found a place that was nestled between lots of country, a few nice homes, and yet another farm. We plopped that trailer down on a very small plot of land that had been slivered off from the many acres of grasses and pasture and we lived there through all my middle school years.

Except for that nagging feeling like I didn’t belong. I always felt like I was that one kid, the one who was living in the wrong zip code. Others belonged and I did not. Never could shake that feeling - my whole life, just thinking that I didn’t belong, no matter where I was. I had to know my place.

I was well into adulthood before I realized that the problem might have just been with me. I’ve always enjoyed diagnosing myself as suffering from an assortment of behavioral disorders, and despite not knowing anything at all about disorders, and usually resorting to making up conditions to classify myself to fit in, I feel like I’m pretty dead on.

Example: did you know that I suffer from Conflictarian Rousal and Avoidance disorder? It’s where I find the situation with the highest drama, completely involving other people, and firmly insert myself into the middle of it, then do everything I can to not be involved.  

It’s a disorder, I have no control.

Anyway, you get the idea. Well, I have also diagnosed myself with the disorder I’ve named, “Social Aversion and Discordance Disorder," the acronym is S.A.D.D., which is cool, but also I’m sure had been taken by some drunk driving campaign, and I don’t want to confuse people, so I changed it to:

“Social and Hierarchal Aversion Temperament?” There, the name is less cool, but I like the acronym better.

Yes, I have S.H.A.T.
This will totally keep people from knowing I'm crazy!

What does that mean? Well, as I started to mention earlier, before I got sidetracked, is that I always feel like I have no business even trying to do the things I do. I feel guilty, yes, guilty for wanting to be a writer. Look, people around me in real life are generally supportive, if a bit confused about why I would choose to do something like this with my free time. But they don’t discourage me, the opposite really. So why do I feel this way, why do I feel bad about writing, about hoping to write even more?

I have no idea. Does it have something to do with my childhood? The more I think about it the more I think I would have felt this way no matter my upbringing. I mean, it sounds so lame that a farmer forcing my mother to move when I was a kid was that big a deal, I moved a couple of times a year up until I got to middle school. That wasn't that big a deal, and it sounds like a pretty lame excuse. No, I was just born this way. I’m insecure, yes, I have S.H.A.T., but I haven’t let that stop me for moving on anyway.

So, here’s to feeling like I can belong. Cheers.


Tonja said...

I think the distinct memories from our childhoods are the ones that affected us especially if most of the rest of it is blurry. I feel the same way. Good to have a diagnosis now. :)

Gail said...

I am thrilled to known my condition has a name...Name it, conquer it!

Mine may be SHAT Squared, since any thing I do for pleasure causes oceans of guilt to wash over me.

Caledonia Lass said...

I'm the round peg trying to fit into a square hole. I'm also the black sheep of my family, you know, the one they have to whisper about if I show up at a family function. It's actually great fun and being a writer, I can make up all sorts of things for them to gossip about. I really don't care if I fit in anywhere. But on the other hand I do... so what is that?
Good post!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Though SHAT not stop!
How's that?
You belong here, with all of the rest of us insecure writers.

Grumpy Bulldog, Secret Agent said...

Sounds like you should invest in a therapist.

Anonymous said...

I remember that episode of the Simpsons. Classic! People feel guilty for the silliest and most bizarre reason. I recently read of survivors who feel guilty they lived when everyone else dies. But that's just the way things divinely shake out sometimes, for whatever reasons. Now where is my tin foil hat?

M Pax said...

You have a great gift, so no matter if you feel you belong or not, don't stop.

Nancy said...

You always make me laugh. Hmmm, is that cruel given your multiple diagnoses? Instead of disorder, have you thought of Conflictarian Rousal Avoidance Propensity or C.R.A.P.? All the really great writers cite their angsts as part of their greatness so that traveling trailer may be the train that takes you into Great American novel station.

S. L. Hennessy said...

I think the best thing about writing is that we create our own worlds where we absolutely belong BECAUSE we created them. Writing is the one place where everything we touch welcomes us. People can tell us they don't like what we've written, or we need to redo something. But no one can tell us we don't belong to it or it doesn't belong to us. So keep writing. I think you're in the right profession.

Laila Knight said...

Well, I always felt out of place. Heck, I still do. I sit in a room full of people, have a similar job, and in the back of my mind there's a gnawing insecurity that maybe I don't fit in, that it's the same way it was when I was a kid in school and everyone picked on me. I try to shut out those voices in my head. The great secret of life is everything you learn in the journey. And writing is just another process of the experience.

I have your book! I'm reading it! Isn't that cool? It means you're a writer. :)

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

I feel out of place where I presently live. I'm surrounded by religious people and I'm not religious. Plus they all have blue eyes and blond hair and I have dark skin and brown eyes. It's kinda strange. So I feel for you.

farawayeyes said...

S.H.A.T. I love it, very creative. Just so you know; I have the exact opposite of a problem. I don't think there is anyplace that I cannot fit it. I'm still as insecure as hell about my work.Go figure.

Nice to meet you. Great space, I'll be back.

Jasmine Walt said...

I don't exactly approve of the mental health disorders listed in the DSM simply due to the credibility of how they were 'discovered', but I won't go into my issues regarding the mental health system here. I will say that I think that everybody makes themselves, regardless of the situations that they were placed in by others, and though it can be tough it is always possible to lift yourself up by your own bootstraps. Sometimes you need a little help finding said bootstraps, but they're around somewhere! I wish you the best of luck. :D

Andrew said...

I've always wondered if everyone feels that way or if it really is just the few of us that are more self aware. Maybe, it's just introverts. I don't really know. As far as I know, there haven't been studies about it, but it supposedly explains the popularity of Spider-Man and the X-Men. Those stories resonate with kids because all kids feel like outcasts.
Maybe, I should have really gone into psychology instead of just letting that degree sit around collecting dust.

Your whole thing sounds like Tib, by the way.

Laura said...

oh yes... I know this one. I work in fashion, but am most happy in my welly boots messing around in muddy puddles. I do not fit in - but it's not just a vague feeling, I really know it! At least now I can say that I SHAT all over work!


Michelle said...

You and I are in SHAT together. :) But the great thing about being a writer is we always belong in our stories. They are, afterall, our stories...our worlds...our zip codes. So it doesn't matter what side of the tracks you were, or weren't, born on, writing gives us a place where we can all belong - even if it is just make-believe. :O)

Author of Concilium, available July 2012
Concilium: The Departure, November 2012

Donna Hole said...

Here’s my Social Worker 101 take: yep; moving around a lot and not feeling like you have a “place” of your own can definitely screw up a kid. And, perhaps you have repressed a memory or two regarding life on that farm prior to being evicted. Only so much trauma a kid can take; and some kids have a low threshold for change. You seemed to have suffered a lot of dysfunction in your early years; and perhaps you thought living with your mom would finally fix all that. When it didn’t . . maybe being evicted was the final straw for your young mind. **end therapy session**

Uh; did I post my review of A Dead God . . Yet? Seems to me I wrote it; but I can’t find it in any of my works documents. I’m not on Good Reads (I read that post first) or I would friend you. I need to check into an account there. Anyway; I’ll post a review on my blog next week. If I can’t find the review I dreamed I wrote I’ll write it again. Was sure I posted it . .

Just a preview; I loved the story, and the graphics at the end. You really do need to fill in the setting in that one. And I think - shoot, was his name Charles? - is nearly menacing looking enough in his sketches. Excellent artwork.

Next week; be looking for it. Well, I'll let you know when it is up :)