Respect. I’ve seen people lamenting about the state of their careers and the seeming lack of it. I used to be quoted in my therapy sessions, group and solo times as saying ‘no one wants to be the imposter, yet everyone’s greatest fear is that they are the imposter’.
Honestly it used to be my greatest lesson I couldn’t learn, well maybe second only to I wasn’t my diagnosis, but that I had bipolar diagnosis not that I was bipolar diagnosis.
And in a way I believe the two were insidiously linked. Depression has a way of messing with your self-confidence level. Whispering in your ear that no one respects you and that you’re a joke for believing a career in the arts was within your grasp.
Now, while my career seems to be doing well, (and while I can’t complain I remain hungry for more mainstream success as I think many of us do) I want to take a moment here to say something. I recently saw a FB post that argued that without a mainstream blessing you aren’t legit.
For those with small presses or are braving a more independent road I believe you are just as legit as say you’re more traditional counterpart. Each path has their pros and cons and a simple, rash decision either way could damage your future just as easily as say believing NY is a panacea and that the independent world is a shortcut to success.
That being said getting to where I am now professionally has been a long and hard road, but the last three years have been sort of insane. And the success I’ve had professionally seems to have dovetailed with my recovery.
I no longer struggle with the issue of am I the imposter, or the I am bipolar. I am not an imposter as a writer, and in spite of what some people out there might believe even if you are holding down day job while you pursue your dream job either you are a writer or your not.
Now there are those who use their day job as an excuse as to why they can’t devote as much time as they’d prefer or have three million as excuses as to why they can’t do it at all. Now that group I have no patience for.
That doesn’t mean those who struggle with legitimate issues such as depression yet still find a way don’t have my full and utmost respect. Mysti Parker, Pamela Turner, Missy Goodman I’m talking to you all.
But everyone has that setback that threatens to undo them entirely. That breaks their hearts and threatens to break their spirit right before the long road back starts. For me that moment was September 2000. It very nearly broke my spirit and derailed my dream for awhile.
I worked at a place called Children’s World for a time. I worked with pre-schoolers aged 3-5. I did especially well with the special needs children. The very type this place were horrible with. The ‘teachers’ there were a joke. Their ‘director and assistant director’ even more so. I suspected a young girl there was being abused. I took my concerns to the director and was fired for the ‘fact I was not fit to work there’. I had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and they used that fact to get me out of there.
Myra Hutton was a joke of a director as was her assistant, Natalie. It very nearly destroyed me. It triggered a second breakdown. I could barely function. I was forced to move back to Kentucky.
It’s funny how things work out though. The road to recovery really took hold there. My mom and dad(John), Missy, (even Missy’s family), were there in the beginning as I took those first very difficult steps to wholeness.
I struggled a great deal with the imposter feelings and seeing myself as something more than my diagnosis. Still I took my medicine, I attended my appointments with my therapist and psychiatrist and clawed my way back with my support network. Carla Bell Deal was crucial in the mix, but my greatest strength I drew upon was from my best friend Missy and my half evil friend Pam Turner. (And of course my mom, dad, aunt Debbie and uncle Frank). All of these people along with the parade of nurses and my girls from group helped put me back together.
I did not allow my heartbreaking moment to destroy me. For those struggling I too had a moment of truth. But I’ll blog about that another time.
So for those who wonder if their moment will ever come know that if you stay hungry, and you define for yourself what success should mean good things will come.
Mysti, you are not working in a vacuum. Pam, I still want to be you when I grow up. And Missy, one day we’ll be the female Matt Damon and Ben Affleck.
And Daniel, it did my heart good to see you front and center on the PSA for the campus sexual assault awareness campaign. Another reason why you’re my hero.