Imposter syndrome

imposter syndrome

I think I might have said this before but anyway…I suffer greatly from ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Apparently, it’s a common complaint. You set your heart on something, usually artistic, have a go at it but during the process you have a sever lack of confidence. You tell yourself that ‘you are not a proper author, a proper painter a proper dancer etc’. You start to believe that ‘you’re not from the right social background. That a council boy like you has no right to set himself up in any of those professions. That you went to a secondary modern…etc, etc, etc.

This kind of negative thinking has plagued me for most of my life and has definitely stopped me from moving forward, even causing me to turn my back on things I have been passionate about. Consequently, and I know I’m at a late stage in my life, I’m trying to change things, especially my way of thinking.

The thing is the artistic world has been hi-jacked.

This notion is of course nothing new. What happened was,  but somewhere along the way those with power and influence realised long ago that art could pay.  ‘They’ then went about corralling artistic institutions. Theatres, art galleries etc became the province of the powerful. The realisation was, that if enough people with talent could be found and (this is the point) controlled, money could be made. Hence, the birth of institutions like the Royal Shakespeare theatre, playhouses, publishing houses and major art galleries, places where the buying and selling of art and artists in all forms, could be controlled.

With this in place, the entrance of those with ‘dreams’ and new ideas found themselves vetted and more often than not rejected by powerful and monied forces. In short, such are the barriers to success that many give up before they have begun. Ergo, ‘Imposter syndrome’.

I think that because of all this, the artist has fallen into a well-crafted trap. A trap that tells him or her that there is only room for a ‘chosen few’ at the top. This mantra, if it is to be believed (which it is) allows those at the top, absolute control. The ability to control the market. To set prices and rewards. To control when and where new works can be seen. Even controlling ‘the trend’.

Unfortunately, all this has the effect of spreading in the delicate minds of the artist (like me) self-doubt and tremendous lake of confidence. Which leaves considering the whole purpose of any art is sharing one’s self-expression and interpretation for the pleasure of others, totally nullified.

One more thing about Art. (At least one more thing about Art, that I believe).

Art is not just about the finished product. Art becomes Art from the moment you say you are going to produce it. Before, paint touches the canvas. Before pen scribes. Before the photograph is taken. Art is thought. Producing it is merely a record of a thought you once had that you want to share.

Mrs The Stratfordian has played a blinder

the stratfordian
Not my DNA

It’s not often that I praise Mrs The Stratfordian on these pages but on this occasion, I must congratulate her. On this occasion Mrs The Stratfordian has played a blinder.

How so? I hear you ask.

This goes back to Christmas and the buying of a DNA test kit for every member of the Lower Regions i.e. Kids. Mainly Grandkids but also including the more direct bloodlines, I refer to of course, my/our son and two daughters. I must admit my initial reaction was one of horror at the expense of this exercise,  but realising the battle was lost before it had really begun, I retreated (as usual) licking my wounds and relieved that no blood (mine) was spilt.

Anyway. I take it all back.

It was a genius idea (that somewhere along the line I’m sure I actually had a part in).  Well. The results are in and what we are left with is a bunch of interested and surprised grandkids of various ages, to say nothing of my own son & daughters. There’s a sort of new sophistication to their swagger, which to my way of thinking can only come from the smidge of Italian that they carry (or ‘Roman’ as one family member has put it). Other segments reveal that it won’t be long before they take up yodelling or a career in reggae. 

The delight on their faces to discover that somewhere along the long line they/we, had an ancestor who was sexually assaulted by a big hairy Viking is a sight to behold. As is the joy in finding out that another sad relative was taken for slavery from the West Coast of Africa.

The fact of the matter is that these DNA tests are in most cases an eye-opener. You/we are never quite what you/we think you/we are and although not (apparently) 100% they give us all a very good idea of our roots. The main thing to remember is nobody is ‘Pure’ anything. We have all been, somewhere along the line, ‘interfered with’. If by chance you refute this and insist on an ‘uninterrupted bloodline’ then your past family must have spent all their lives in a cave high up on a mountain that they couldn’t leave.  What went on in that cave, I hate to think.

I would go so far as to say that DNA should be taken at birth. No child need ever leave hospital without knowing what stock he or she comes from. What a story he or she could tell. Roots. So important. As Marcus Garvey once said, (I paraphrase) ‘A tree without roots, falls over’.

If everyone took a DNA test kit perhaps this would put a permanent zip on the lips of the racist and the other scum who make it their business to make life miserable for those who are ‘different’. A knowledge of their own DNA make-up would perhaps/maybe (I’m sort of doubtful because underlying it all is a lack of braincells) make them think before they open their rancid gobs.

Peace. the stratfordian

The Fat Stratfordian

the fat StratfordianYesterday, cunningly disguised as ‘The Fat Stratfordian’ (I wish). I got to escape what I have come to call my sheltered accommodation for an appointment with my local surgery’s Diabetic Nurse.

The mission was to discover why I had turned from a Greek God to a large and it has to be said, rotund gentleman, seemingly overnight. Or, to put it another way, why I could easily be mistaken for ‘The creature from Planet Lard’.

With my excuses in hand and well-rehearsed, ‘Honest it was the lockdown what done it’ I prepared for battle with the no-holds-barred Nurse C.

The Verdict. (She won).

The straight-talking Nurse C went for the jugular.

Basically, if I didn’t lose at least 2 stone by March I would become a died- (see what I did there?) in-the-wool Diabetic and on the pill forever.

Even, if the truth were told, this did not come as a great shock I still had to have a sit-down. So I got myself a coffee… (I do like the fact that a number of shops are selling coffee from literally their front doors. Long, (unlike the virus, may it last), and deposited myself on a backless (what’s that all about?) by the swan fountain thingy on the Bancroft, to do something I hadn’t been able to do for a long while, people watch.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to mention this but Town feels wrong. Everybody drifting along as though in a dream.

No-one appeared in the hurry you usually associate with Town centres (even Stratford upon Avon Town centre). In fact speaking as an expert on how people pace themselves in Town Centres, the rhythm was what I would call zombie-like. Very strange. Odd in fact. Although I have to admit that it has been so long since I have been around more than four people, it could have been me.

Anyway, from where I sat it was obvious that there were one or two illegal visitors. (Easily spotted because of their need for fish and chips and the way that they just didn’t fit). I was surprised not only by their presence but by the fact that they nearly all appeared to be in the most at-risk group, older people. Perhaps I wondered shockingly, they had given up and this was the most pleasant way of suicide they could think of. Death by sight-seeing.

The other thing that baffled me was the number of shops that were open. I was under the impression that only essential shops were allowed to do business. W H Smiths…. essential? I’ve was obviously missed something here. Possibly something about Toblerone being a necessity.

Anyway, curiosity sated and boredom creeping in, I began my long drudge home to Trinity Mead carrying extra weight and contemplating life as a one potato a day man.

Sad.

The fat Stratfordian.

An imposter like me. What went wrong Part II

How times have changed. A few years ago I was a religious person. So much so I went on to study (ha!) for the Priesthood (Church of England). I was Ordained early nineties at Coventry Cathedral and became The Reverend The Stratfordian. To this day, I am amazed that an imposter like me made it that far.

It was not a particularly pleasant trip or indeed easy.

There was a lot of ‘Man in the Mirror’ stuff and a lot of confrontation with people. People, who although holding senior positions in the Church, should have spent more time looking at themselves rather than  spend it, judging me.

I think it’s safe to say that my although problems, my doubts started the moment I stepped through the doors of Salisbury and Wells Theological College, I met some fantastic and unusual people and I have no regrets, although I sometimes wonder if perhaps it would have been better and saved a lot of people a lot of precious time, if I had never bothered. Who knows…?

I actually fought hard to go to theological college because I was under the naïve impression that if I got in that my so-called faith would be explored. That I would find justification. That I would find that God indeed does work in mysterious way and…and…he had chosen me. I actually believed that College would put the stamp of approval on my ‘Faith’. That there would be questions and finally answers that would make it OK to move forward. Sadly, I was very wrong. It wasn’t like that at all. To put it simply, College was an instruction manual on ‘How to become a Church of England Priest/Vicar’. Hymns to sing and prayers to murmur on the correct day.

Anyway, enough of that. Here’s something I recently came across, that sums up everything that I began to feel in those early days and proceeds to grow as I get older. I wish I had come across it then. I thought I was alone.

Did you know that when Einstein gave some conference in the numerous universities of USA, the recurring question that the students did was:

– Do you believe in God?
And he always answered:
– I believe in the God of Spinoza.

The one who hadn’t read Spinoza stayed in the same…
I hope this gem of history will serve them as much as I do.

Baruch De Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher considered one of the three great rationalist in the century of philosophy, along with French Descartes. Here’s some of him.
This is the God or nature of Spinoza:

God would have said:

“Stop praying. What I want you to do is to go out into the world to enjoy your life.
I want you to enjoy, sing, have fun and enjoy everything I’ve done for you.
Stop going to those gloomy, dark and cold temples that you built yourself and that you say to be my home.

My house is in the mountains, in the forests, the rivers, the lakes, the beaches. That’s where I live and express all my love for you.

Stop blaming me for your miserable life; I never told you you were a sinner.

Stop being scared. I do not judge you, nor criticize you, (you do not) anger me, nor bother me. (There is no) punishment. I am pure love.

Stop asking me  (for) forgiveness, there’s nothing to forgive.

If I made you… I filled you with passions, limitations, pleasures, feelings, needs, inconsistencies… of free will, how can I blame you if you answer something that I put in you?

How can I punish you for being as you are, if I’m the one I made you? Do you think I could create a place to burn all my children who misbehave, for the rest of eternity?
What kind of God can do that?

Forget about any kind of commandments, of any kind of laws; those are wiles to manipulate you, to control you and that only create guilt in you.

Respect your peers and don’t do what you don’t want for you.

The only thing I ask is that you pay attention in your life, that your alert status is your guide.

This life is the only thing there is, here and now and the only thing you need.

I have made you absolutely free, there are no prizes or punishments, there are no sins or virtues, no one carries a marker, no one carries a record.
You are absolutely free to create in your life a heaven or hell.

I couldn’t tell you if there’s anything after this life, but I can give you a tip. Live as if there wasn’t.
As if this was your only chance to enjoy, to love, to exist.

So, if there is nothing, then you will have enjoyed the opportunity I gave you. And if there is, be sure that I will not ask you if you behaved well or wrong, I will ask you. Did you like it?… did you have fun What did you enjoy the most? What did you learn?…

Stop believing in me; believe is to assume, guess, imagine. I don’t want you to believe in me, I want you to feel in you when you kiss your beloved, when you (lift) your little girl, when you love your dog, when you bathe in the sea.

Stop praising me. What kind of egotistical God do you think I am?

I’m bored (when you) praise me, I’m fed up (when you) thank me.

Do you feel grateful? Prove it taking care of you, your health, your relationships, the world. Express your joy! That’s the way to praise me.

The only thing sure is that you are here, that you are alive, that this world is full of wonders.

What do you need more miracles for?

Why so many explanations?

Don’t look for me outside, you won’t find me. Find me inside… there I’m beating in you.”

Baruch De Spinoza

Mental ill-health

mental ill-healthThe news that yet another member of my family is experiencing mental ill-health was a bit of a blow I have to admit and another restless night wondering what the hell is happening to us all. And by all, I don’t just mean my family unit. I’ve never known so many people ‘on the pill’ (Prozac).

 

Mental ill-health.

We’re all at it, self-included.

God knows what it is like for those that really suffer, but waking up in the morning (for me) is usually rotten for at least 30 minutes and then, if it’s a bad day, sporadic intervals over the next 24 hours. For some reason the weight and misery of the world piles in and takes up residence in my head.

This is of course blatantly ridiculous because I live in Stratford upon Avon.

The Taliban don’t have a base here (as far as I know). There hasn’t been a locus swarm to wipe out our crops in living memory so we’re not starving, and at the moment, I’m not called upon to sign up to the army and go abroad and conquer foreign lands. So all in all, everything is tickety boo and Bristol fashion.

I am living a very nice (I was going to say European – wash my mouth out with soap and water) lifestyle. We’re extremely comfortable with all the basics. We have heat, we have food, we have electricity. I have no religious fanatics telling to believe in a destructive God and I am not being bombed by a fanatical Government who want to get me round to their way of thinking. What I do have is a problem when I wake up in the morning.

Like many over-privileged Westerners, I have the misery symptoms but none of the actual misery. Symptoms without a Cause that goes by the name of  Anxiety‘.

Of course, the temptation is to say, ‘Pull yourself together’If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, ‘pulling oneself together’ doesn’t work. For two reasons. First of all,

  1. I’m not a pair of curtains/drapes and secondly…
  2. I don’t have that kind of control. As hard as I try, the misery clings on as though a separate entity.

However, in my case, the pills appear to work.

The cutting, razored edge of this mysterious misery is dulled and for a while, tamed. (It must be the pills because if I attempt to come off them I come over all doo-lally and fall once again into the pit).

The pills.

As I said, the pills work, so, why I hear you ask, ‘Why would you want to come off them’?

The answer is simple.

I don’t like taking them because it is in my addled brain a sign of defeat. Deep down inside I want to beat this thing without any artificial help. But, I know that ain’t gonna happen. I have to reluctantly turn myself over to the pharmaceutical giants.

I’m told by those who know about these things that there is, a chemical in my brain that is misbehaving. Why it’s misbehaving I have no real idea although I’m led to believe that it could have been triggered by some past life experience. To get to the bottom of this puzzle and go some way to finding an answer and maybe a cure, I would have to employ an expensive therapist but like many others, that kind of solution is not something I can afford. I can’t afford the therapist, so I have no choice. It’s the pills for me and thousands of others like me.

[Personally, and I’d appreciate it if you kept this to yourself, My own personal diagnosis says it’s something to do with the time we live in. As I alluded to above there are various unpleasant things happening right this very moment to a large part of the Human race all while another part of the Human race goes relatively untouched. THIS IS NOT FAIR. I believe that all human beings are somehow connected. Taking that into consideration, I believe that a large number of us diagnosed with mental problems and are in fact suffering from a form of…GUILT.]

Dealing with it. 

There are in my case, moments of peace and quiet when ‘it’ seems to leave me. I’ve learnt to take advantage of them, to relax in them before the onslaught begins again.

Something I have discovered quite recently is the ability ‘to answer back’. I read somewhere about someone who uses a mantra (a form of words, a sentence, anything) to go on the defensive. So, for instance when I feel my brain beginning its regular delivery of doom and gloom, I tell it (aloud) to ‘stop lying’ or in simple terms to (excuse the French), to ‘fuck off and leave me alone’.

(NOTE: The best place to practise this is in the privacy of your own room as it is quite possible, in these times of great misunderstanding, for it to be construed as a conversation with invisible friends).

Another good way of dealing with it is not to suffer alone. If the therapist route is for you and you can afford it, then good for you. Use it. For those of us poverty stricken odd-bods. Find an outlet. Call a friend. Talk to someone you trust. Don’t let it fester.

To sum up. My theory.

Mental ill-health of the type I am describing and so often labelled ‘Anxiety’ is *I believe, a consequence of the times we live in. It is, in part, I am convinced, caused by our ‘picking up’ on the sufferings of our fellow human beings no-matter who or where they are.

  • my own personal theory/just a feeling that’s never been raced or rallied.

What went wrong Part I

what went wrong

It’s true you know. The closer one gets to one’s Sell-by date, the more time is spent looking back on one’s life and wondering ‘what went wrong’.

In my case I find myself looking back to the crazy time I decided that I was maybe, ‘holier than thou’ and should train as an Anglican Priest to prove a point.

Believe it or not and to cut a very long story short, I was accepted and went for training at the now extinct Salisbury and Wells Theological College, (I’ve always felt that I had something to with its demise but that’s another story for another time).  Anyway, within a few short months I think it’s fair to say, I had the distinct feeling that I might have made a big mistake and had been reading the signs wrong.

[NOTE: I put this feeling down to a recent pondering and subsequent enlightenment that throughout my life, I have been unable to, and have great difficulty in how you say…’Towing the line’. Or to be brutally honest, arrogance, i.e. ‘my way or the highway’].

Those ‘few short month’ I referred to a moment ago, kicked in when I realised most of the would-be Priests and Vicars I trained with (I include myself here) were, rather than disciples, hangers-on. All desperately looking for a way through their fear of life and who they really were,  that didn’t leave them at the bottom of the pile. 

To put in simply.

We/they all were in desperate need of someone to tell them what to do. The need for an authority figure to berate us when we misbehaved and sedate us if we had any thoughts of misbehaving. Someone/something to confess to and feel better about ourselves.

I fitted the bill perfectly. .I felt so much better about myself especially when I realised the comedic value of lots of grown men and women falling to their knees to confess their so-called ‘sins’. Usually, those moments in their lives when they had succumbed to their natural urges, sex and that, something I did all the time.

It was around that time that my vision/my idea of God, which was a little ‘loose’ to start with, started to diverge from the Gospel of the Church of England.

To cut a long story short I ended up as the last Ordinand in College without a job to go to. I gave up going to the chapel unless I had to and spent my time indulging. Anything to keep my mind off my original reasoning on being there. I felt a fool.

I actually was Ordained (Coventry Cathedral 1990/910. I ended up a Reverend-Imposter. A fraud. The only thing that got me through was telling myself that I was a servant of the people rather than God. I was a social worker in a priest’s clothing.

However, there is no way I regret my time at Salisbury and Wells. 

I learnt a lot. Especially about myself. I learnt that like all others, I am a complicated beast. I am unique (as are you). What suits me does not usually suit another. This realisation, I hope enables me to go a little way to understand my brothers and sisters and maybe assist in solving the complications and stresses in their own lives.

 I think differently now.

For instance, there is no room for prayer in my life anymore. Meditation, yes, asking for ‘get out of jail’ cards, no.

I am hardwired for survival and the easier and more pleasurable my life the better.  

I demand revenge from those who have hurt me (there goes forgiveness).

Sadly, I see no sign of this loving God that people talk about.

Somewhere along the line, we have misinterpreted, got it wrong. I suspect banking all on a tome written a very long time ago by a different culture, was perhaps our greatest mistake.

This has been a rambling post from the stratfordian

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