Yesterday, I spoke in front of the Board of Trustees of my alma matter, Pacific University. I was there as part of a group of Pacific University Theatre alums, and current students. We were invited to just speak about how we felt our theatre degrees had served us, and what projects we were currently working on.
I have numerous theatrical credits to my name, have worked along side incredible artists, and have been a part of so many wonderful groups doing wonderful work. Even if I step out of theatre, I’ve been able to pay rent, to have good friendships, to be relatively healthy.
So why do I feel like I still don’t deserve to be up there in front of that Board?
I know a lot of people like myself, people who have terrible anxiety and shitty imposter syndrome. I feel like the work I do is not valid, or somehow that even if I do amazing work, that my involvement was a fluke, or an accident.
I think that besides humility, it is difficult to be able to say “I deserve credit for this thing,” because we are worried about two things: worried about appearing to be a pretentious asshole, or worried that we might have to shoulder blame if something goes sideways. We are worried that any good thing can disappear in an instance, and that if we remain at arms length, we don’t have to take the fall if someone doesn’t like the work.
To claim credit and ownership is to be inside the very nerves of it, to claim it as your own. And I believe that I worried about being outside my comfort zone because I worry about letting others in completely. Because I know that at any time, it can all be taken away in an instance.
There’s no real thing to end on here: I know many of my issues, and I’m working on them. I know that I have room to grow as an artist, and that in order to reach new heights, and to truly be okay with myself, I need to be willing to take ownership. Imposter Syndrome sucks, but I want to be able to die and say for certain: “Here is what I did with my life, and I’m okay with it.”
This is all to say, I spoke in front of the Board of Trustees about my work, and I think it was good, even if my anxiety tells me it wasn’t.