One of the highest hurdles to overcome in life is the belief that you don't belong. No matter your chosen profession--writer, actor, doctor, dinosaur wrangler--you will one day wonder if you are actually a part of the community or just an outsider looking in. I'm talking, of course, about imposter syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is a very real thing, and something with which I have struggled for years. It is the feeling that you are just playing a role, that you're not actually a professional at all, that all of this is just a game and soon you will be found out. It kept me from submitting manuscripts to agents and publishers, from entering contests, and from finally starting my career.
Imposter Syndrome is detrimental to your happiness and success. It holds you back more than any rejection letter or harsh criticism ever will. And you know what? It is 100% inside your head. There is no big secret to learn, no credential that will assuage your fears. This is Dorothy in Oz, and you had the power to go home all the time.
But don't take it from me. Listen to someone who climbed the ladder to the top of several different industries, but always felt like a wolf in sheep's clothing: Neil Gaiman.
For those of you who don't know him, Neil Gaiman is one of the best writers of our generation. He's excelled as a screenwriter, author, comic-book writer, and even director. He is an incredibly imaginative person, and his stories never cease to amaze me. If you're wondering what he's done lately, look no further than the new hit show American Gods.
So let me step aside and let a master explain: