I actually turned down paying work the other day. (This is another position, not the one at CosmoQuest I wrote about two weeks ago.) The details aren’t really important, but the job just didn’t feel right for me at the moment: a poor combination of pay and responsibility, without an obvious benefit professionally. I asked a few friends for advice, and they reinforced that decision, based in part on inside information I didn’t have. So, I’m okay with the choice I made, though there’s that nagging part of my brain telling me that I shouldn’t turn down paid work, given that I’m not exactly rolling in it right now.
I think there’s a bit of Imposter Syndrome at work in my second-guessing too. Imposter Syndrome is the persistent belief that you are somehow faking it, when everyone around you is competent. Christie Wilcox put it well: “like I’m a C student that has snuck into a Mensa meeting to steal the free food”. Imposter Syndrome has nothing to do with ability or success; in fact, thinking over positive accomplishments can sometimes reinforce it. (One impromptu session at the ScienceOnline conference discussed it; you can see the Twitter conversation here. I didn’t attend, alas; one problem with that conference was simply too many good choices for seminars going on simultaneously, and with only one body, I could only attend one at a time.) Some of my favorite writers, friends, and colleagues have Imposter Syndrome, so I’m hardly alone.
The Imposter Syndrome-induced second-guessing over my decision comes down to that voice in my head saying, “You think you’re too good for that job?” That little voice is hard to quiet. However, I’m doing my best to drown it out these days, by being busier than ever before. One thing I don’t want to give up is blogging, so if that means occasionally writing more self-indulgent pieces like this one to keep myself here and visible, that’s what I’ll do.
In any case, in my new busier-than-ever life, I thought this song by Silent Knight seemed appropriate. He describes the life of a jobbing rapper, one who has to work twice as hard because he doesn’t fit the mold and hasn’t yet made the big time. I think the song works pretty well for freelance writers and others who try to piece together a life from fragments of work, with all the good and bad that entails.
When you don’t want to think no more
When you hurting so bad it’s in your core
But it would hurt even more if you stop, even for a second
Busy is your best friend.