I’m writing this deep in the nook of confessions corner. I’m going to admit to something you probably don’t know about me.

I’m an impostor. 

Or, more accurately, I have impostor syndrome. The Fraud Police are constantly knocking on the door. I know (deep down) that I’m not an impostor, and I earned my place as a resident of the Studio, but nevertheless, the feeling persists and I shudder inside my own skin most of the time. 

I’ve been a Studio resident since 2009, and am in the launch photos from 2008. But I still find it strange, and always have done, that new residents see me as senior. That I am, in some way, a fixture, or someone people look to. That I’m here, and I belong here, and will continue to do so for some time to come is not something I’ve ever felt comfortable with.

I’m an Associate Professor in Art & Design at UWE, I’m Associate Head of Department for Research and Scholarship. I’m a writer, and an artist, and I’m genuinely proud of the things I do. But the feeling that I don’t deserve this has never gone away. And for the longest time, I’ve just lived with that, and tried to do the best I can. To make, and to think, and to express ideas and believe I’m on a par with the brilliant, generous people around me. Over time I’ve been reassured that everyone feels like this, to some extent, and that’s almost certainly true. But they don’t live inside my head. 

The upside (there’s always an upside) is that it’s really difficult to be arrogant when you’re plagued with self-doubt. Everything is new, because everything is to be proven. Everything is a challenge, because it has to be, because the last thing was probably a fluke and I have to work twice as hard this time. And new things are great. New obsessions, things I didn’t know about before. New art, new writing, new ideas. Because knowing, or doing something today that I couldn’t, or didn’t do yesterday, helps. 

I’m not writing this because I think confessing this is a good thing (it probably is), or because I want to announce I’m cured (I’m not); I’m writing it because I recognised a few weeks ago how toxic this feeling can be when it’s clawing away inside me, and I decided to try to do something about it. I talked to people, Zahra especially. I talked about how I felt most of the time, and how I felt in the moments it went away, and how I was going to try to do something about it. And Zahra suggested I write this. 

So here we are. I’m going to finish with the things I’m doing, that seem to help. If they help you, then that’s great. 

1. Take care of yourself. Which is easier said than done, but try, ok? Pause from time to time. Socialise. 

2. Recognise the moments you are recognised for who you are. Write them down if that helps. 

3. Talk, smile, and always be generous. 

If you ever want to talk about this, in any way, I’ll buy you a coffee.