There's something wicked in the way my inner critic speaks to me through my ADHD and imposter syndrome finds its way to my core some days.

There’s something wicked in the way my inner critic speaks to me through my ADHD. A taunting voice, a belief in the worst, and the perfect opportunity for imposter syndrome to invade my every thought. This often teams up with a dip in my self-esteem and the evolving deconstruction of a childhood led by puritanical ideology. My wave of emotions only help deepen the twisted perspective the inner critic tries desperately to get me to believe. I’ve tried to ignore it in the past, believing that distraction was a way for me to “feel better.” Life and joy don’t work that way, not really anything does.

Original digital artwork by Britt Bender

ADHD & The Inner Child

The world can be a capitalist hell and it often preys upon my ability to care. To care about art, life, accomplishments, and almost everything else. Somedays I can’t give a single sh*t about the art surrounding me in my studio. That simply sucks. I’m a fantastic artist, a good friend, and a loving partner, and even though it’s hard to say it, I’m a good writer. Because of a society that praises the neurotypical, my own ex-evangelical trauma, and the fear of joy in something not producing monetary gain, It can be hard to think I’m anything worthy of praise at all.

Imposter syndrome is masterful in the worst ways but can be pushed and reframed. Reframing or taking a break from my mind can feel impossible sometimes. There’s a lot of fear and “what if?” talk surrounding this experience. Doubt becomes a present enemy and anxiety tags along as a sort of sidekick. My inner child doesn’t scream at me, instead there’s an upsetting solemness in the voice that brings up a necessary inner guilt.

Part of me looks at the accomplishments and joy in my life with a sincere amount of admiration. In the past it’s been much harder to even acknowledge that voice over the loudness coming from the questions and doubt put forth by imposter syndrome. Nowadays, it’s not at a place I’d hope for it to be, but I’ve found myself stopping and addressing the inner critic more than I have in the past.

Facing Imposter Syndrome

Picking at every little detail, second guessing your own intelligence, and most any other road block can come with imposter syndrome. It’s typically worse for anyone not a straight, able-bodied, white, cis-gender man. Being someone whose external aesthetic leans towards the feminine (even though I would identify as gender-fluid), discussing anything or being talented in an area dominated by men can be a horrible experience. I still experience a deep uncomfortable fear when needing to address concerns or ask for what is rightfully mine. It’s not something new for me, but it has changed its appearance based on where I am in my career and/or stage of life.

ADHD contains layers. The layers of skill regression, hyper focus, and more have served to only help my imposter syndrome. It becomes easier to explain potential mistakes or the validity of “what if?” moments in my mind. Doubt shakes hands with my mind, inviting in the false narratives placed in front of me.

“I’m not meant to write about horror”
“I don’t want to come across as…”
“Maybe I should stick to writing about…”
“Do you work as hard as__?”
“You’re not keeping up with the latest news”
“You know you have to work at this harder than him”
“Maybe it’s ok I wasn’t considered for this”
“Does your background in film even matter?”
“It’s not worth the inevitable argument”
“Best to just ignore it”
“Stick to your area of coverage”
“I don’t want to write right now and that breaks my heart”
“My studio is a mess again”
“I used to be able to…”

These aren’t statements from some TV villain or from an online troll…these are my own thoughts. They are ones I have had in the past or recent ones that have come up time and time again. I don’t want them. It would be great to ignore them, same as I do with the daily instances in which my potential is fucked over by a man’s decision or a “good guy” and his indecisive self-protection.

My mind can often regard my ADHD as the enemy. In many of my symptoms and breakdowns, that’s very plausible. But there’s a relief in writing down those inner thoughts and messages. It’s easier to take down something negative in your own mind when it’s written plainly in front of you. When it comes to dealing with things outside of my ADHD, there’s a level of difficulty that becomes a special kind of hell because of my inner critic and subtle (or not so subtle) sexism playing out day to day for me.

Writing about my experiences has definitely helped, but I am also lucky enough and privileged to have access to therapy. I try my best to work through my fears when it comes to standing up for myself or acknowledging what I deserve. It’s something that truly is work each and every day, but it doesn’t drain me. Reminding myself the worth that my inner critic and imposter syndrome ignore is what counts. I can’t continue to be my own enemy. Otherwise, I’d be joining a select few and society in creating my narrative.

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