In the tenth grade, my English teacher was so impressed by an essay that I wrote over The Lord of the Flies and A Separate Peace that I didn't have to write any more essays for the rest of the year. She told my mother I was the best writer she had ever had in a classroom, and that I needed to be a writer. But I didn't believe her. I knew I wrote that essay the night before and that I hadn't even read the books all the way through. I fooled her.
In the eleventh grade, I took a practice AP exam, and my junior English teacher gave me a 9 on one of the essays, which, according to her, can only happen when angels sing. She told me what an incredible writer I was and that I needed to continue writing. I didn't listen to her. I knew I didn't really know what I was talking about when I wrote that essay. I fooled her.
My twelfth grade English teacher took my Independent Novel Analysis, which was composed of several essays, to the principal of my high school. He read it, and insisted that she search all over the internet for this work, because he was pretty sure it was all plagiarized. He didn't believe a senior in high school could have written that analysis. She assured him it was my work, and then told me it was one of the best INA's she had seen. She still uses it as an example in her classroom. But it wasn't nearly as good as they thought it was. Maybe everyone else's was really bad. I fooled them.
Also in the twelfth grade, I attended a Youth and Government conference. I was in the news media section and wrote for the newspaper, but only because my friend was writing for the newspaper and she wanted me to come with her. I didn't take it very seriously, but ended up winning the "Best Article" award that year. I knew I didn't put much effort into it, though. I fooled them all.
Throughout college, I have gotten compliments from professor after professor about my writing abilities. But, just like in high school, I kept ignoring them because I was fooling them. I wasn't really as good as they thought I was.
Two weeks ago, I read The Fault in our Stars and was dissatisfied with my ending. So I rewrote it and showed it to a close friend who flipped out. She told me it was fantastic and I really needed to consider becoming a writer. For the first time, I believed her. And that's what really led me here.
So, why did it take so long for me to realize that everyone who told me that I am good at writing was actually telling the truth? Well, I'm still not totally convinced. But it goes back to a word I learned at the beginning of the year reading some Thomas Aquinas: pusillanimity.
Put in a little bit more modern terms, it's simply the Impostor Syndrome. I guess I have just told myself that I'm not good enough to write over, and over, and over, that now I believe that more than any other voices I hear. My own negative voice drowns out every other positive voice I hear, and I just assume that I am an impostor. I have fooled everyone. So, I'm trying to change that. Because really, the only person I've fooled is myself.
So this journey is not only a journey to becoming a writer. It's also a journey to become less pusillanimous.