I’ve consulted Dr Google and Twitter and self-diagnosed that I’m suffering from Bookblogger Imposter Syndrome.
The other day I posted this on Twitter
‘Think I’m suffering from ‘Bookblogger Imposter Syndrome’. It’s the one where people feel they’re not worthy of the title and their blog is crap’
I had so many responses from other bloggers who reassured me that my blog wasn’t crap. It was very kind of them and I really appreciated it but I wasn’t fishing for compliments.
Imposter Syndrome is a real ‘thing’. It’s a well known social anxiety disorder. Apparently.
Fellow book bloggers and writers also privately messaged me on Twitter to say that they too were affected by it.
Imposter syndrome is a term that was first used by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s. It’s the fear of being exposed as a fraud.
One writer wrote that she felt like that at every book launch party and each time she had book signings and events where she appeared on stage as part of a panel of authors.
Guardian article: ‘According to some estimates, up to 70% of successful people have experienced impostor syndrome, including Maya Angelou, Albert Einstein, and Meryl Streep’
I’m not going to go on too much about the pressures of book blogging. Drew, another book blogger who writes some excellent posts on his blog has written a post all about it Here I can’t really explain sensibly why I feel like a book blogging fraud. I just do. It’s a sort of ‘what on Earth am I doing? Who do I think I am?’ Feeling. Along with the expectation of someone coming along one day to expose me as a fraud.
It does feel like a responsibility. There is a certain amount of responsibility about being a book blogger. I want to do a good job for the author if I’ve enjoyed a book. I want to encourage other people to buy the book. I also want to do a good job for the blog tour organisers if on a blog tour, or the publicists who have sent me an ARC, either of a physical book or an ecopy via NetGalley. I look at other bloggers reviews and they’re so much better than mine.
Not many people ever comment on my posts, except for the lovely Nicki from The Secret Library Blog who keeps me going, literally. Other bloggers have so many comments right down the page. I’m an imposter.
I’ve had this feeling once before (this but might be lengthy so make a cuppa to read it and if you’re squeamish give it a miss altogether)
I was a student nurse in my second year of training and on a three month placement in an operating theatre. Another nurse in my group was with me and we’ve spoken of it afterwards as being the best placement of our nurses training. It was nerve wracking at times though. I actually developed a twitch like tic in my upper eyebrow at the time and when I saw a doctor he told me to change my job! It went once I changed placement.
At first student nurses are eased in to working life in theatre very gradually. We were the lowest life form. The ‘runners’. Our role was to fetch and carry and be handmaidens for the surgeons. Nothing much was expected from us. We were part of a fantastic team with other experienced, qualified nurses who guided us.
We weren’t gloved and gowned (scrubbed up) at first. We stood around observing the surgery going on on the table. Occasionally, as and when required, fetching and carrying. Sterile water out of the chiller cabinets at the back of theatre. Spare sutures for stitches. Each surgeon had their own preference and we learned which ones. Spare swabs. Anything that was needed. By that time in our training we knew about sterile technique and were aware that we never contaminated the aseptic sterile area around the open wound(s) of patients. We would open the sterile packs of whatever and drop it without touching the contents inside into the sterile area. We’d take specimens (bodily parts) away into the sluice area to be labelled, not by us, by a qualified nurse and sent to the path lab (pathology) for testing. Tumours, appendixes, gall bladders and countless other body parts. Once I was asked to stand at the end of the operating table and take a newly amputated leg and put it into a bucket on the floor. It didn’t faze me at all. Even though out of that environment it definitely would have! It was all wrapped up in surgical drape paper but still recognisable as a leg and it was heavy.
We had to stand looking absolutely fascinated by the ongoing routine surgery cases even though we’d seen the same routine operations over and over. Sometimes, some clever clogs surgeon would try to catch us out by firing questions at us about the procedure or anatomy of the surgery they were performing and if we didn’t give the correct answer they’d completely humiliate us and their junior cohorts and sycophantic juniors would howl with laughter at our expense. So we had to keep on our toes and not let our minds wander as mine sometimes did!
Other times we’d help the surgeons in the scrub room to glove and gown by tying up the cords at the backs of their sterile surgical gowns and opening the sterile gloves packet that once they’d scrubbed their hands with antibacterial soap and dried them on the sterile paper towels we opened they could just slip their hands inside and tuck their sterile gowned cuffs inside. We had to make sure that we filled in the sterile glove drawers with all sizes or God help us if a surgeon did not have the correct size of glove available.
Very gradually we’d take on more and more responsibilities such as opening the trays of sterile instruments, checking the seal was intact and checking they were all present without contaminating them of course. It was all look, count and never touch. We’d occasionally be allowed to glove and gown up and be allowed to stand at the table along with the other trained nurses who knew what they were doing and observe or hold a retractor until we were eventually allowed to be the only nurse at the table with the surgeons on minor routine cases. Vasectomies, circumcisions or the routine gynaecology minor cases such as D&C. These were all very routine cases and part of the operation list week after week in the general hospital where I trained.
One particular time it was just me and the surgeon at the table for a minor op and I was passing him the surgical instruments. He barked at me that I’d passed him the scissors the wrong way around. Well I handed them to him handle towards him and not cutting end first! A medical student came to my rescue and said that no doubt someone would write a dissertation about it in the future, taking the heat off me for which I was grateful but feeling mortified nevertheless.
It was at these times that Imposter Syndrome really kicked in and I felt that it shouldn’t be me there standing at an operating table. It was too much and felt overwhelming and someone was going to expose me as not being good enough. I was right back as a convent schoolgirl being told off and humiliated by the nuns and made to feel worthless.
( I can’t watch Call The Midwife because of the saintly portrayal of the nuns. Ours were definitely not like that, particularly the one who told me I’d never make a nurse, my lifelong ambition)
Now here I am as a book blogger feeling that same fear!
I’m so glad I’m retired from nursing now it has to be said. There is so much more pressure on nurses these days. My daughter and two nieces have followed me into the profession. My sister was a nurse and my older cousin ended up being a Director Of Nurse Training in a hospital in Vancouver. Two relatives have taken time off nursing for stress recently.
Book blogging should be a doddle compared to all of that. Shouldn’t it?
Are you a book blogger feeling like an imposter or do you have any experience of feeling like this in your career or life. I’d be interested in reading about your experiences in the comments below.