Seeking Solace

Imposter Syndrome doesn’t have to define you

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

A large part of my personal self-love and self-care journey is recognizing what I can bring to the table in each situation. I’ve spent years of my life putting myself down and underestimating my abilities, but that needs to stop in order for real growth to occur.

I think that for most people a major obstacle that gets in the way of success is the perception they have of their abilities. There are documented cases where people, women especially, underestimate their abilities.

According to an article from Psychology Today, Imposter Syndrome occurs in people who believe they don’t measure up to their peers or competitors. Imposter Syndrome especially impacts those whose confidence or whose sense of self-worth is impacted by outward affirmation or lack thereof.

Imposter Syndrome has played a major role in my life. I’ve held myself back from reaching for opportunities to grow in my skills and abilities, thinking that there was absolutely no way I was even a little bit qualified to do whatever task was in question. I’ve spent years of my life telling myself and others that I want to be a published author, but never had the confidence to let anyone read what I’d written.

Files and files of stories, both finished and not, fill up the extra space in my laptop that have never seen the light of day. I used to close my laptop, or just minimize the screen I was writing in, whenever my family would walk into the room for fear that they would want to read it and it wouldn’t be ready or good enough.

I had to battle this Imposter Syndrome at this time last year when I began my internship at Volume One magazine here in Eau Claire.

After one of their editors visited an English class and mentioned they were looking for spring interns, I knew that this was a chance to get my writing out there and finally start doing what I love. I took a chance, sent that editor an email and wound up in an interview with a different editor a week or so later.

The rapid turnaround for writing stories and them being edited by complete strangers acted as shock therapy for me, forcing me out of my comfort zone. I needed to be baptized in the fires of the news cycle in order to feel comfortable with anyone reading the words that were so close to my heart.

I loved being an intern at Volume One. The people in the organization were all so positive and funny, and this internship was where I met The Spectator’s own Emilee Wentland, who encouraged me to throw my hat into the ring for my last year of college working on The Spectator.

As you might imagine, I listened to Emilee. That’s a bit of advice I want to spread, always listen to Emilee Wentland. She is a ray of sunshine. Here I am months later, loving life and loving the wonderful people at The Spectator.

I can’t say that my Imposter Syndrome is totally gone. There are days that I wonder if I’m really the right person for any job, whether it’s writing-related or not, but my main point here is that ruling yourself out of the equation before you know what you’re fully capable of is a big mistake.

Every person brings something unique to a situation, whether it’s in gifts and talents or in personality and positivity.

Life is full of amazing opportunities just waiting to be taken, do yourself and everyone else a favor and go for it. You never know what inconsequential thing, like sending an email to a well-connected stranger as I did, will lead you to something great.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].