There is a wonderful poem by Jules Feiffer called “The Impostor Fantasy”. I am honored to post it for you in my writing.
(Take it away Jules):
I felt like a fraud.
So I learned to fly an airplane.
At 50,000 feet I thought:
“A fraud is flying an airplane.”
So I crossed the Atlantic in a rowboat.
I docked at Cherbourg and thought:
“A fraud has crossed the Atlantic in a rowboat.”
So I took a space shot to the moon.
On the trip home I thought:
“A fraud has circled the moon.”
So I took a full page ad in the newspaper and confessed
to the world that I was a fraud!
I read the ad and I thought:
“A fraud is pretending to be honest.”
Jules wrote that in 1929, and 81 years later I am relating to his poem. In fact, I think many people I know can relate to this poem, but I can’t speak for others (Though, I do love publik speaking, so if you want motivational , leadership, or business stuff, the contact form is at the top of the page).
One of the smartest, and wealthiest friends of mine said “You’d make a great copywriter! Just start charging $5,000 per salesletter, and then raise your rates after you got a few.”
“But I don’t have any copywriting clients. I mean, I’ve included copywriting into my fees when I’ve done websites, brochures, and even some catalogues…. but entire launch campaigns and sales letters…” I took a giant chug of the rest of my Guinness, so that I wouldn’t have to finish that sentence. I’m not really a stout beer – or any beer – kind of guy, but when being social with multimillionaires that are happy to let you pick their brain, do as the romans do.
I didn’t have to finish the sentence! My friend came to the rescue with jolly voice, “Ori, you know what makes someone a copywriter?”
“They say that they’re a copywriter! That’s it!”
“But… don’t they need to…. I don’t know… show their skills?”
“Well, yeah… you need to be able to write your own ad… but people will pay you. I’ve seen some shitty work go out for $5,000 all the way up to $100,000. I’ve seen ________ (well known copywriter- name ommitted) crank out absolute shit, at $30,000. It didn’t convert at all! And I’ve seen your writing, you could easily do that, and convert.”
*blush* Well, I do enjoy writing… That was a year and a half ago that we had that conversation in that dimly lit bar. I still haven’t posted my skills as a copywriter. It’s not really the kind of writing I want to do on a full time basis, though, I can see enjoying the occasional piece.
These days I’ve realized that I really enjoy writing. I recently discovered David Sedaris thanks to my older brother, and I am fascinated by his work. I’ve listened to his audio books, which are so great as he reads them all. In fact, if you search, you can find recordings of David live at Carnegie Hall. He can also be found reading on NPR (National Public Radio).
His stories are amazing! He can take a moment, or a few decades, and make you feel as if you were there, viewing the experience through his eyes. After just one book of short stories “When you are engulfed in flames“, I felt as if I knew David! I feel that I knew his sarcasm, his family, the places he’s been. More of the people, and his little neurosis than the places… but the attitudes of the places are well conveyed.
I tried to learn from what I liked about Sedaris, and incorporate that into my own writing. There are elements in this piece, and definitely elements in my “Happy Father’s Day Indeed” post (which apparently, possibly because of my new understanding of what I liked in Sedaris’ work, has become quite popular.)
I am now thinking that my book will be many chapters that are each a short story, where I hope I can share the experience of what it was like through my eyes… as David does in his stories. My mood has been affected by his stories… whether a growl, or having to pause to wipe the streak of snot that shot out because I was laughing so hard while jogging and listening to Sedaris at the same time.
So the thoughts invade:
Who are you to write a book?
Why would people buy your book?
What’s so special about you?
But, it’s not even about writing my book. It’s about living my life!
There is no way that the people I consider my friends would be my friends if I didn’t have something to offer. If I was boring, dumb, unhelpful, and uncaring, they would have nothing to do with me. But despite knowing that, my brain still doesn’t feel that I deserve them.
Yes, I don’t feel I deserve the things I have… including my friends. I do not know why.
My older brother suggests maybe I check out a therapist. I’ve never been to one, and I don’t know what to think about it. I can however see how “I don’t deserve what I have” can be a very limiting, and self-sabotaging belief.
I have 5 days (including today) of my cleanse left. Some would say that it is a tough thing to complete (30 day, full body cleanse, including raw food, juice fast, etc…)
My reflection would smile at me, as I’ve lost at least 14 pounds. I don’t have a scale at my current location, so have no idea what I weigh now… which is probably a good thing.
Then I started P90x yesterday, and my reflection stopped smiling. All of a sudden, I felt fat again. I know I’m not, but I feel like I am, because my 1st day of a difficult workout routine yielded less pull-ups and push ups than I thought. Back to self doubts “Oh… well.. why are people following my blog, I can’t even do more than 6 close-grip pullups!” (6.5 actually, followed by 4 on the next set).
My friend Kathryn said that I’m being too hard on myself… again. I replied that this too shall pass, and that thankfully the start is generally the low-point. I then forgot that I did P90x that morning, and I went for a 10 mile jog… which became a 10 mile jog/walk…. I was not happy with my speed. I was again told that I’m too hard on myself, and that many people can’t even go 10 miles… especially on the same day as doing P90x.
My last attempt at doing P90x ended abruptly when I was traveling from Austin to Dallas, and was couchsurfing at this warehouse…. “What? You’re going to do pullups instead of helping us set up for this kegger?”
I’ve managed to sustain myself while traveling for 3.5 years…. some would say that’s a difficult thing. My list of activities is interesting, and many people keep telling me they wish they had my life. But it never seems good enough to me. And that is why I shared that poem.
Jules Feiffer basically says that no matter what he did, no matter how grandiose, he still felt like an impostor.
I did day 2 of P90x today (Plyometrics), and I was actually fine with my performance… and I’m now going for a 4-5 mile jog (I just love the sun here in La Jolla). I need to get my running speeds to a competitive level, as I have a 185 mile relay race in July, in Seattle. I’ve never been to Seattle or run a relay race. I’m excited about both.
I said to a friend today “I think even as a millionaire who’s traveled the whole world, published multiple books, and has 6-pack abs, I’ll still find issues with myself.” You hear about those rock-stars or supermodels who “Had it all!” and committed suicide… I’m not sad, depressed, or anything like that. It’s just that once I do something, I’ve done it, and I move on. The glory is gone.
As I said to a friend the other day “An air freshener only lasts so long.”
I’d love to have a conversation with Jules Feiffer. In the meantime, if you have your self doubts, read that poem again.
I see it as a reminder that we’re not alone. That we can do anything we want, regardless of what those annoying voices in our head tell us. Thankfully, the rest of the world doesn’t see us as we see ourselves.
Off to squeeze those 4-5 miles in