Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome: a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

Like many creative people, I’m guilty of starting things ambitiously, like a podcast, zine, blog or film (just a few examples of things I started in 2016) and then when it’s inevitably not perfect I lay it down and never pick it back up. I don’t know if anxiety spawns Impostor Syndrome or the other way around, but the only way I’ve ever found to rid myself (even briefly) of anxious energy is to create, so it can be a bit of a vicious cycle. Gretchen Rubin said on her Happier podcast that if you are struggling to find what fulfills you as an adult, think of what you loved to do when you were 10 years old. For me, it was singing, writing, dancing, playing the piano and violin, doodling, putting on plays, taking photos with disposable cameras then writing poems about those photos. I once made an entire wardrobe for my Barbies out of deflated balloons. The point is, ALL I cared about when I was a kid was creating. Over the years, parental figures, teachers, peers and lovers condemned creative endeavors because they weren’t “cool” or “sexy”, didn’t follow a precise theory or wouldn’t eventually serve as a career. Eventually it got to me, and I (subconsciously) decided that if something wasn’t perfect or wouldn’t bring in a ton of money, it wasn’t worth it.

Fresh Air was conceptualized between Kyle and myself as a way to overcome our individual and collective anxieties. I’ll let him talk about his own, but for me Fresh Air is a new start. Having a partner to create with, offer encouragement, critique and advice, and hold me accountable for things I start is invaluable. Fresh Air isn’t a singular project to see through, so much as a collection of smaller, more completable projects. I am learning to play on my strengths (modeling, social networking, adventuring) and most importantly, to be gentle with myself about things I knew nothing about until I started doing them. Maybe the golden ticket to living with Impostor Syndrome is accepting that things are going to kind of suck the first couple of times, but in the words of my grandma, “You’re not too stupid to figure it out”.

Modeling has been the one thing I’ve stuck with for a long period of time, despite internet trolls, “friends” & distant relatives disapproving, and the generally bizarre circumstances one finds themselves in as a SuicideGirl. It always blows my mind that people follow me and subscribe to my Patreon, because I model for myself. Largely, the content I create is something that is itching to come out of me, not something I feel I need approval of or attention for. It’s empowering in that it allows me to see myself from the outside in. Maybe the other key to living with Impostor Syndrome is to stick to creating things you love, and others might love it too.

You can check out a few of my [completed!] projects here . Please consider subscribing, and if you’ve got feedback on how to live with Impostor Syndrome, or on Fresh Air content in general I’d love to hear it. Leave comments on everything, really, it keeps me going.

Til next time, here are some photos I took today of a beautiful human named Samantha

Kyle Danley