Good Enough Hack: Name It, Don’t Shame It (Con Artist Syndrome)

When I started writing this blog, there was one aim, one and only.

The aim for this blog was: to write it.

And the more I wrote and achieved, the more my ambition woke up to it. I started wondering whether I should have a website (I should; I attempted one at; of course, it’s unfinished), whether this blog should be my online presence (debatable; also, do I feel comfortable sharing that much of myself as official?). In short, I started expecting things.

I stopped writing.

Time has passed. I need to write whether the blog is “ready” or not. I deviated from its mission of casual while-you-wait creativity. So I am back, with my Good Enough Hack, which is… name the problem.

I have a recurring mental health problem. You could call it a version of impostor syndrome; I privately call it Con Artist Syndrome: my feeling that I’m cheating people into believing I’m worth something as an artist, as a professional. Surely if they saw me – the real me, scrambling for deadlines, wandering the house in yesterday socks – they would scorn the picture I make. So I scorn it for them. I hurt myself as I fully believe I deserve, before I get hurt by others. In a preparation of sorts.

I want to be the early-morning-rising, writing-at-her-own-tidy-desk, excercising-four-hours-a-day artist. Nothing less will do. Nothing less is worth it. And truthfully, it’s not impossible – I have been that person (well, the four hours is usually in a workshop, and I don’t own a desk, but details). But I’m not that person right now, I’m not that person all the time. Nothing else will do. I don’t deserve help if I can’t make it on my own.

See this? This, this knife’s edge either-or black-and-white obsession has been haunting my days. Whenever I start small – and I need to start small to start at all, sometimes – I preemptively scorn the effort. Can you picture this? Picture a child, stumbling on short legs to give you a hug. Now picture turning away and saying: you don’t get a hug until you stop holding the walls. Take yourself seriously, now. Practice. Maybe one day, you’ll deserve the love. Be ambitious, dream big. But how can you start your engine without fuel?

I’m saying all these wrong-headed things to articulate just how wrong-headed they are. I’ve had them for years, and they come and go: company of good people will chase them away, or when I sustain a meditation habit, or when I dance frequently. But I’m in a crisis now, and writing is all there is, in a sense – I can’t keep asking my partner to love me out of my blues. His love can’t reach places I don’t love, myself.

I’m sitting in a cafe and crying discreetly. This is a win: I left the house. When I’m gripped by those feelings, one thing that helps is leaving the house, meeting people, social activity. Simultaneously, when I’m gripped by these feelings, I cancel meetings, call in sick at work, postpone walks. I say to myself: you can’t leave until you clean your room, do the work, shape up. You don’t deserve the reward. You have to earn it.

Self-punishment, self-sabotage, scorning of the body – I sometimes stop eating/eat badly, postpone showering or getting dressed. Postpone writing, say all these things in my head. And of course, read a lot of stories, watch a lot of shows. It is a time-honored coping mechanism for me: escaping into my head and imagination. Perhaps it started in childhood: I got bullied and I loved books, so going outdoors stopped being attractive pretty quickly. (later I got bullied because I loved books and talked “funny”).

Again: this is a good day. I started getting it together yesterday – I did indeed clean my room up a bit, put together a load of laundry. Today I’ve been working on being okay with everything that’s been happening. (Got up late – okay. Had breakfast – okay. As opposed to low-level murmur of “you already ruined your day by getting up too late, now it’s not worth doing anything”). Interestingly, my brain tends to play hide-and-seek: whenever I come up with a solution to a made-up problem, my brain throws a block at me – it’s like a scene in an adventure movie, you know, when the hero is about to be trapped and all those walls come down wherever she looks? My brain is a labyrinth and it keeps itself entertained. Wherever I turn to, a wall comes down. Except the walls aren’t real, and whenever I venture ¬†outside the confines of my tortured brain, I re-discover this: I can walk through walls like a ghost. Because things in my brain are as real as I allow them to be.



Now I’m in a cafe, about to work on a grant application that I SHOULD have sent weeks ago, because it’s been ready, but I dawdled, because I need advice on a detail or two. Frankly, if I’m writing, I’m already on the road to recovery.

So, recovery list:

name the problem. Writing helps. I’ll try and name/refute the limiting/fearful statements that keep coming up (or down, like walls).

for the love of all that’s holy, leave the bloody house! You deserve it! Parks are good. Theatre is good. Friends are great.

purge some emotion. I always cry while watching cartoons. Also, Fried Green Tomatoes – guaranteed fountain.

exercise if you can – if you can trust yourself not to turn it into “I should work out more” baseball bat to bash yourself with.





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