Career impostor


I was going to continue recounting the adventures of my trip, but then I got involved in a conversation and decided it would make good fodder for a journal entry. I've got all month to get back to the subject of Miami, after all.

I'm currently--well, 'arguing' is rather too strong a word. 'Debating' sounds too formal and agressive. 'Discussing' is kind of boring, and implies that various solutions are being considered, which is not exactly the case. I'm having trouble coming up with an appropriate verb, here. Start over?

This weekend, someone chided me for putting myself down too much. Now, I don't think I'm entirely guilty as charged, except a) when I am guilty as charged, which is not that often, and b) when I am trying to be realistic about my limitations. Most of the time, I (like to think I) am being amusingly self-deprecating.
Yeah, it's a fine line.

(It occurs to me that I'm coming very close to the subject of one of those beached autumnal entries that you've never seen, which had/has to do with expectations, my own and others'. This is a slightly different topic, though, about impressions. Impressions that can indeed contribute to the formation of expectations, so I guess this is another fine line.)

The thing is, sometimes things happen that make me realize that how I see myself is not at all how others see me. This is especially frequent in online interaction, since there seem to be a lot of misconceptions (or ideas that I perceive as misconceptions) about me out there, in the various communities in which I interact. One being, for instance, that I have the slightest sense of style or fashion, which I really do not--just ask my sister. I'm sure there are a bunch I'm not even aware of, since it's not as though people often come right out and tell you what they think of you. (I'm also sure that not all of them are positive.)

So, anyway, I recently made a point in conversation that I am utterly devoid of creative talent. I like creative stuff, I've tried various forms of artistic expression since I was a kid, from music to embroidery to acting to creative writing to drawing, and I suck at all of it without reservation.

This is not me being modest or putting myself down. If any of you saw the first incarnation of this journal, you know what I am saying is perfectly true. I have no visual sense whatsoever, and there is just that certain je ne sais quoi missing from all of my creative endeavors. Which is disappointing, but hardly the end of the world. I have no athletic prowess whatsoever, either, and yet I'm not weeping over it. I spent years taking dance classes and gymnastics and being the idiot savant of the high school diving team (I've told that story, right?), and enjoyed it all fine, all the while fully aware I was never going to be gracing a stage or an Olympic podium. No big deal. I embrace my mediocrity in these areas.

Apparently some people define creativity a little more loosely, as imagination. Now that, I have plenty of. Too much, I've usually been told. But while I agree that imagination is a necessary (or at least helpful) ingredient in lots of seemingly unimaginative tasks, I guess I see creativity as skill at turning that imagination into something tangible. Well, using the word 'tangible' a little broadly, to include a performance, etc.

This... discussion, or whatever we're calling it, arose in the context of a hobby in which the stuff I do is really nothing that could be called creative, at least by my definition. As a matter of fact, I don't even think I do it particularly well, if for no other reason because I'm still pretty new at it. Sometimes, sure, I'll come up with something I'm proud of, but most of the time I'm aware of the flaws in what I put out there. For one thing, I feel as though I don't really put in quite enough time and effort to justify some of the responses I get. I'm a little wary of said responses, because there's something of an online tradition of people being overly effusive; some of the things I see people squee about make me wonder how inhabitants of the same planet can have such widely different tastes, so it's clearly subjective.
Not all of the people who seem to like my stuff are raving about its creativity, but they often do draw conclusions about me that leave me scratching my head.

(Are you finding this all very confusing? I think most people reading this would be even more confused if I tried to explain specifically what I'm talking about, which is why I haven't done so. It's not a question of being coy, it's an attempt to protect your sanity.)

It seems that I somehow manage to misrepresent myself, despite my proven tendency to overshare in a variety of contexts. I wish I could figure out exactly how this happens, so I could stop it. It makes me feel like a fake, even though I try to include a safe buffer of disclaimers on everything (and then get accused of putting myself down).

And just to finish up by plagiarizing myself, here's a snippet of what I wrote to the other party in the aforementioned conversation this morning:

Dario likes to tell the story about how, soon after we started dating, he found me all worked up about something one day (who remembers what, anymore), and when he asked me what was wrong I wailed, "I deceive everybody! It's terrible." He was alarmed, wondering just what he'd gotten himself into, what kind of strange pathological liar or con woman he'd taken up with. Until he eventually figured out that I didn't mean that I intentionally deceive everyone, just that for some reason people keep getting the entirely wrong impression of me.

So, not a new phenomenon, or even a strictly online one. I'm a career impostor.