It's not the film starring a reclusive young singer who speaks in a shy, childlike voice - it's the voice in your head that won't shut the f**k up.
"I have an interloper living in my head. One of those weird boils with its own voice like Richard E.Grant in How To Get Ahead In Advertising."
I'm 40 years old. That's right. 4.0. I have lived for 4 decades. Survived countless traumas, enjoyed innumerable laughs. Felt joy, pain, frustration, longing, love, fear, happiness, hope - the heights of euphoria and the depths of despair. I am a woman that has lived - and yet...
How Not To Get Ahead In Life
Like so many of us, I have an interloper living in my head. A voice so chameleon-like, I sometimes don't even recognise it as different to my own; when really, its more like one of those weird boils with its own face, like Richard E.Grant in How To Get Ahead In Advertising. A boil with an uncanny knack of knowing my weakest, most vulnerable spots, and whispering sweet 'you are nothing's in my ear.
Don't Eat Sweets Before Dinner
I always knew that voice existed. I always thought of it as me. My paranoia, my fear, my worries. My ability to self sabotage anything good that might happen in my life. But the truth is, it isn't me. It's something else. Something separate. Something I have to learn to speak to and punish - like an errant child caught eating sweets before dinner. As I've gotten older, I've learnt the voice can be managed. Never quite expelled, but at least sent to the naughty corner and told to shut up for a bit. But the voice is clever. Cleverer than expected. Its started disguising itself with a fake beard and a moustache, posing as thoughtful and concerned, a 'realist', when really its just there to tell me I'm not quite good enough.
"I fear the voice may be the editor of the Daily Mail."
I'm about to publish a book. My first. My debut novel. A book about a brown girl, with a gorgeous brown girl cover. It's funny and sweet and serious and beautiful, and the amalgamation of a lifetime of watching too many romantic comedies. It's the book I wish I'd had when I was growing up. The one that would tell me I could be anything, but most importantly, that I could be me, just as I am. And I'm so proud of myself for writing it. For persevering with it. For finding an agent and a publisher and putting it out in the world. And yet...
I can't help feeling a bit small, and a bit scared. A bit not quite good enough to be here. Like I'm the one in a fake beard. A fake beard that has talked itself into a convention of People With Actual Real Beards and is about to be Found Out. There is a word for this. And the word is imposter. I feel like an imposter.
Little (Far-Right) Voice
Oh clever little voice. Stealthy little voice. Who took something so joyful and purposeful, and turned it into 'if you did it, it can't be that hard, can it?' or 'isn't it Quite Fashionable to have People Like You writing books at the moment?'
I fear the voice may be the editor of the Daily Mail.
I'm 40. I have lived for 4 decades. Survived countless traumas, enjoyed innumerable laughs. Felt joy, pain, frustration, longing, love, fear, happiness, fear. I am a woman that has lived - and yet.
People With Actual Real Beards
But now I know Imposter Voice is there, I have to stop and talk to it. Remind it who's in charge. Remind myself, that I choose how I feel. And I am choosing. I'm choosing to know I'm enough. Which is hard. Every day. But one of the (many) great things that come with 4 decades and counting, is knowing change will come. That all situations, however good or bad, are only temporary. If I want to feel the fully fledged joy of being a real world writer with a book in a shop - I have to do it. To actively participate in that joy and tell Imposter Voice to wait in the corner. Because I can. I. Me. Can. I can grow a real beard. Honestly, I'm South Asian, I've been plucking for years. I'm not going to be Found Out. Because I belong in the convention of People With Actual Real Beards.
So when I hear that little voice, I just have to remind myself - I Am Enough. And then, take away its pocket money and send it to it's room.