I got a fresh shot of panic, insecurity and inadequacy this week. As part of a local community choir I was learning, along with the 40 or so other members, a new song in four-part harmony. As I struggled to memorise a new melody and failed to hold the harmony when the other parts wove in and out of my line of notes, there came a point when I felt seriously despondent. Singer? I felt a total fraud.
I could hear my inner voices complaining, and their last and lowest taunt was why was I even struggling to learn the part when I didn’t even like the song?
Now it’s not true that I didn’t like the song though I didn’t like the way I was singing it! I felt so out of my depth. As I looked round the room at everyone else enjoying themselves and at apparent ease I asked myself, why don’t you just go and sit in the back room until it’s time to leave?
In honesty, the only thing that really stopped me sloping out was that the embarrassment I would have felt was greater than my current discomfort. That feeling held me in the room just long enough to recognise that I’d felt this way before, that I’d heard this voice before…
I enjoy singing though I don’t sight read music, don’t have any special talent and certainly no significant skill. I’ve been amazed at the beautiful sounds our choir can produce and proud to add my voice to the melange but, time and again I go through that awful stage where I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I don’t know what I’m singing and it feels very bad…
I’m all too familiar with that sickening feeling of certain discomfort as I struggle and fail to hold my tune. I’ve done this often enough now to know, to have repeated evidence that, if I just keep going, listening, learning, I will get more of the right notes more often. As I contemplated whether to give up and hide I had just enough hope this was a passing phase and that I will get better – it just about kept me going.
I don’t know whether this is really even worthy of being called Imposter Syndrome. What is it about these feelings of being a fraud, being an imposter that just keep coming back? It’s beyond logic. I know it’s not worth feeling this way. I know I’m a good enough singer for this choir at least. And I still need all the control I can muster to remind myself that I’ve been here before and it will all be OK in the end.
Part of the quote goes “Knowing is not enough, we must do… ” and so, I must sing and maybe even feel inadequate while I sing my way through to greater confidence on the other side of my imposter.
I guess this same lesson applies to so many different aspects of life and of learning.
Roll-on the next practice evening!