Xoterica 43: The Impostor

Xoterica 43: The Impostor

“We all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. I'm no different." (Leonard Shelby, "Memento")

Continuous rejection is not good for anyone's self-esteem, especially when success has been the pattern. This job hunt has been a dismal experience that has started to nullify the past in my head and cause me to wonder what I've actually accomplished. This self-doubt has allowed a stranger to creep into my subconscious. This stranger has started to become my identity.

Angel Down

I was RIF'ed (eliminated due to a reduction in force). Not because of performance or lack of experience, but as a cost-cutting measure for a company facing severe challenges finding its future. So I - along many others - was let go, disposable hero with a pink slip and kick in the ass.

The kick didn't land on my ass, however - it hit me in the gut. I was reviewed as "Exceeding Expectations", had generated millions in promo revenue for the company, and was seen as a digital experience leader. By all accounts, I should be someone to keep around. I was active in resource groups and was a champion for my colleagues.

The job wasn't a perfect fit. I was hired to fill a specific role and need in their digital experience. The job was unlike my previous titles and experience in Marketing, and I was intrigued by the opportunity to learn about and guide a different touchpoint in user experience and online transaction. I had other interesting opportunities when I chose that one in 2021, but ultimately decided to take that job because a few former coworkers.

It saddens me how my life now so closely parallels 2020, when I was re-entering the workforce after my bereavement and attempted #metalmorphosis. COVID was receding and hope of a return to normalcy was the state of the world. I desperately needed to find a job, and leveraged my previous experience and connections in Marketing to find one. I felt really lucky at the time to get the job I did.

Echoes of Endtimes

Then the company started to change. People left. Finances tumbled. Layoffs became the culture.

And the job I enjoyed deeply lost its stability. The people I enjoyed working with became exes. The path returned to chaos, much like the miasma of time of the breathing virus.

Adrift, with only the paddle of my past to propel me to waters of new prosperity.

I will find a job to ensure my survival. Eventually. As noted in my previous blog, it hasn't gone well for various reasons. And this blog isn't about employment progress. I've applied and have interviewed for some great opportunities that I'm hopeful of. There's promise on the horizon.

But I've also lost out on some great opportunities because I wasn't good enough. Jobs that I was once considered clearly qualified for. Jobs that I interviewed for and had a great exchange. Jobs I wanted a chance to excel at.

Jobs that reinforce I am who I think I am, and appreciate my body of work as legitimate.

It's hard not to internalize this struggle. It's difficult separating the real from the circumstance, the ghosting and the lack of second chances. When you're someone productive, talented, and self-directed, apathy hits even harder.

Self-Wrestling

Sometimes, it feels like I'm in a wrestling match with myself. There's part of me that agrees with the masses and dismisses all that I have produced and accomplished. In the great nullifying present, the proof is apparent in the struggle for mere survival. That muscled version of me berates my past, denies the very lines on my resume, and beats the hopeful, proud version of me into submission.

It's hard to believe in yourself when you are reminded on a daily basis of your failures. It's hard to be proud when the hits are still hitting. It's hard to see light when shadow is the sun.

It's hard to stay sane when the impostor takes your name. I discovered its name: impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome (also "imposter) is the condition of feeling anxious and not experiencing success internally, despite being high-performing in external, objective ways. This condition often results in people feeling like "a fraud" or "a phony" and doubting their abilities.

And that's why I feel lucky to have developed another identity. In times when I am at lowest, I find comfort in the escape of Art. Art shields me from the impostor and allows me to find hope in creation. In art, I am not judged. I am not flawed.

And I cannot be dismissed.

Art screams and calls. It claws at impostors and reveals their true selves, tatters and all. When I become Art, the impostor is silenced and forced into submission. I cannot control the impostor, but I can overwhelm its energy.

And energy is what it all comes down to. The energy to survive. The fire to create. The power to keep the ghosts in the mirror at bay.

In Art I Trust

We need alternate identities to help keep us sane.

Fantasy has helped many get through tragedy, captivity, or torture. It certainly has helped me get through the turbulence of adult life. It has reminded me of the greatness that I have within, even if others can't see it or life challenges the integrity of it. It has offered me an escape to a stable future state, while enticing me with a vibrant life of hope and happiness.

The Art will always remain. It will never reject me or underestimate me. It will never question me or second-guess me. It will never judge me as "not good enough". It will not bow under the weight of the message, nor will it get lost in the algorithms of careless engines. It will never wear a false face or hide behind a façade of grace.

For by the simple act of honest creation, as a unspoiled act of expression and communication, without arrogance or self-importance, is pure and unfiltered truth. It is the counterpunch to the impostor that seeks to meeken and weaken. It is the roundhouse kick that beats the bluster of self-doubt.

Art believes in me when many others don't. It speaks for me when many others won't. And when the impostor lies and reduces all that I am, my Art stands as a testament to all that I can be and have been.

While life works to diminish all that I've accomplished in my professional life by introducing an impostor, I will not be confused or bruised or downed by this distressing doppelganger.

In Art I trust.

#xoterica

Picture of Artemis Sere Digital Art

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