Impostor syndrome and my first panel.

Picture this. You’re in the middle of a crowd. Everyone is showering you with accolades about how awesome you are, and they are so impressed with your achievements. You smile and shake hands, and graciously accept all the praise. Meanwhile, on the inside, one thought is going through your head.

“What if they all find out I’m a fraud?”

You didn’t deceive anyone. You actually did all the things they think you did. You put in the work. You took the risks, and in the end, they payed off, but people don’t understand that those achievements don’t make you all that great. As soon as they realize that, they’ll get angry and declare you to be a fake.

This is unofficially called impostor syndrome. I had never really had a brush with it until last week, when I did my first panel, where I focused on my third book, Mimir’s Well at ConDuit.

Suddenly, I was in front of people, and they were asking me questions about Norse mythology, and some of them were questions I didn’t know how to answer. Someone asked me how to get more information about it, and I sputtered for a second and told them to read the Eddies and Sagas. Of course, the correct term was Eddas and Sagas, and one of the other panelists corrected me on it. It was a slip of the tongue, but I was sure they were going to call me out right there. Note, the panelist wasn’t rude or condescending in any way. They handled it politely, exactly the way you should handle a situation like that. If I had been reasonable at the moment, I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, but that’s not how impostor syndrome works.

Here’s the thing. Before I even started writing Mimir’s Well, I knew the about how Odin had to hang from the world tree with a spear in his side for seven days as the price for being allowed to drink from Mimir’s Well. I knew that the world tree had a squirrel that carried insults from the eagle in the top branches to the dragon chewing at its roots. I knew that the immortality of the gods was maintained by Idun’s golden apples. I knew about Odin’s rune magic, and I knew a thousand other little details because I had done my research, not necessarily for this book, but because I enjoy mythology. That was the whole reason I wrote The Oracles of Kurnugi trilogy. I was on that panel because I was qualified to be on it. I may not have all the answers. No one does, but I know where to look for them. That was all people really wanted to know. It’s a peculiar thing to have to realize. I’m not an impostor.

Neither are you.

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