Imposter Syndrome & the Annual Reset

02 Oct 2020

Today I released a piece of music into the world, that is solely my own and wasn’t a collaboration. I recently set myself the challenge of releasing a new piece of music every month for as long as I can maintain it, and this is the first “submission.” This challenge makes up a greater desire to earn a modest passive income through music, and really the only way to do that is to write, record, and release tracks. But I have long faught with a sense of imposter syndrome over my creations, my music, and my places in various bands, and it has been a struggle to overcome that.

For the uninitiated, imposter syndrome is a feeling of doubt over our talents and accomplishments, and that we will be “found out” by someone, and exposed as a fraud, a faker, or a cheat. For me, feelings of fakery derive from knowing exactly what I’m doing wrong musically, and that anyone with half an ear will be able to discern and call out the obvious issues. And to be honest, they don’t go away either. I feel it every time I forget a part at band practice, or fluff a note during a gig. I hear that voice that says “you’re not good enough” when I practice and practice and practice a part and still can’t get it right.

It’s that feeling that keeps me from busking regularly, or from putting out pieces written and played by me. Today I like to think that that fear, that sense of shammery has been beaten back, at least for today. I doubt it ever truly goes away, but I think it’s something that can be tamed, perhaps. Time will tell, I hope.

The new release comes as part of a wider annual reset that I think happens for me every year. The start of the year is full of promise, of hope, and resolutions. Discipline is on the rise (more on discipline another time), and goals are met. Everything builds and builds and builds, and then… You’ve been working hard. Take a week off! Maybe two. Oh go on, have a third. And a fourth. Well, a fifth couldn’t hurt. A point comes where all the momentum you built up is gone, and you’re back to square two (square one would be nothing to show for the months you actually did do the work). For me that time usually hits around early summer, and continues onwards.

It would be easy to blame the pandemic, lockdown fatigue, or burnout for this year’s dropoff, but that wouldn’t be honest. It happens every year like clockwork. I used to think it might be the glut of summer activities: gigs, festivals, nights out, nights in, holidays, long weekends, etc. The theory went that I just ran out of time to be productive and enjoy myself. But this year has shown me that it’s different than I thought. It’s the imposter syndrome kicking in, right around the time that a bit of momentum and progress has been built up. It’s that voice saying “this will never amount to anything” and “if you stop now you won’t be disappointed.” Today, I like to think that I’ve scored a victory over that voice.

Tomorrow, I hope that I can keep that victory close to my heart, and use it to bounce onto next month’s track. And the next. And the one after that.

But right now, I need a week off.

If you’re so inclined, please go check out the tune that I wrote, and consider spending a pound to support a musician trying to find his way. The song is Maia’s Lullaby II, although it’s technically number one. Maia’s Lullaby I was written after this, but recorded long ago. I hope to re-record it for another monthly release some time soon.

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