If you’ve never seen it, Amanda Palmer’s commencement speech, “The Fraud Police,” is a wonderful talk about imposter syndrome and the feeling that whatever you’re doing, you haven’t actually done anything to deserve it. They say one of the most powerful and pleasurable feelings humanity experiences is earned success…the sensation that your effort was what has landed you in favorable circumstances.
I think it is really interesting that to be happy with where we are in life, we have to feel like we’ve earned it. When we get the sense that we’ve been given what we have, it loses value. That makes sense, right? You don’t want to feel like luck got you where you are or your life style is supported by someone else, even abstractly. Sometimes I wonder if all the celebrities that get embroiled in drug problems or battle with depression are thrown into that doubt because they can’t wrap their minds around the idea that they really are funny/talented/interesting enough to have earned their fame. The guy who coined the term “earned success” had a lot of thoughts about it’s political ramifications, but I think the bottom line is it is why some people like capitalism so much and why talking about privilege can be an uncomfortable conversation.
The funny thing is, all you really need is the feeling of achievement. As with anything, there are elements of luck and privilege as well as hard work and perseverance. Last week my mood was oscillating a lot between extremes, and with it my perception of my achievements. When I feel great, I also have the sense that I’m moving quickly forward because of the effort I have poured into my writing. When I’m down in the dumps, so is my self-esteem and sense of accomplishment. These past few days have all been up though, so I’m feeling like I might have finally turned an emotional corner after a rugged month XD
Moving forward, I would like to think of a way to emotionally safe-guard my self-esteem…because I feel like when that gets questioned, my sense of earned success also goes out the window. A depressive headspace is like an auto-immune disease…suddenly my brain thinks its best chance for survival is to attack my self-worth. WHY? When I’m feeling well, I have to actively and consciously keep my ego bound up and stuffed in the closet (why yes, I did land my first traditional book deal at 22…)
This past year, I’ve done a really good job of teaching my emotional expression to find a middle ground, and grow myself in a less dramatic emotional direction. Maybe the next step is figuring out how to keep my ego at a happy average. Who knew the more you grew up, the harder growing up would be? I feel like all the suffering and awkward emotional maturing of my teenage years should have been enough work on self-growth to last me a lifetime. The older I get, the more potent my interest in Peter Pan gets. I wonder if this is going to peak sometime in the next few years, or if I’m not going to stop hoping he’ll show up until I have kids of my own he’d threaten to steal.
3 thoughts on “The Fraud Police: Growing Up Only Gets Harder”
Wow Audrey this post is right on point! Someone told me the other day I was so grown up and had it together. i literally laughed in their face and told them I was thrilled to have fooled them so well. I think as younger people our focuses are more selfish, my friends, boyfriend, school, which is fine I mean that is what parents are for. Then as we get older we must transition to selflessness, esp if there are children or major relationships involved.
I am a stay at home mom and it bother the HELL OUT OF ME. I love my hubs we have a child we have been together almost ten years. All my friends are like live it up. There is something so inherently wrong with the feeling that I am not contributing financially to our family (not at the moments anyway). Hubs says the house and raising our son IS your job and yea I get that but I have worked since I was 15 years old and always supported myself. To have to ask for money for every little thing niggles me. Not that its an issue but there is that feeling of just being handed. It’s not an “earned success”
Rambling but i just want you to know that i get this feeling. This is my daily struggle to have that happy medium.
Great post…want to go to Neverland with me?
❤ Britt @ please feed the bookworm
Oh man…do I ever feel you. My boyfriend and I are moving in together and merging our finances…which is interesting since he’s a computer science guy and makes about quadruple what I do as a writer! I’m having a crazy time adapting to that…hopefully when The Neverland Wars comes out I’ll be a rich bestselling author and turn the tables XD
I’ve try to reframe it as a sort of an earned success though. To have someone so successful in love with me and helping support me, I had to be a pretty impressive person. Our men wouldn’t be with just any woman, would they? They love us…for the personalities we have cultivated, the effort we put into loving them, and the passions we pursue. I hope you’re doing well finding the happy medium ❤ and, if not, Neverland is always an option 😉