Druidry, language and imposter syndrome

How often do you see a creative person talking about imposter syndrome? Too often. Because we’re not really supposed to blow our own trumpets, be proud of what we do or confident about putting our work into the world. Why is this a Druid issue? Because boasting was part of what our Celtic ancestors did. Because language matters. Because creativity and inspiration are part of the modern bard path. A culture of encouraging people to feel like imposters isn’t healthy.

If you create, in any way, you are a creator. If you write, then you are writer. If you draw or paint, you’re an artist and so on and so forth. The measure of being the thing is whether you do it, and you are also allowed to have breaks from doing the thing without that undermining your identity. If you are doing the things, you cannot be an imposter.

It’s not about how good you are. No matter how good you are, there will always be people who don’t like what you do and people who think you are a bit shit. They are not the measure of your worth.

If you don’t do the things, and claim the title, then feeling like an imposter might be a reasonable issue to have. If you call yourself a Druid but never do anything you can identify as druidic, that would be a problem. If you call yourself a bard, but have never learned a song, or a story, or a tune, never make anything, never do anything to bring beauty and inspiration to the world, then you may in fact be an imposter. The answer to this is to do something.

The other answer, is praise. This again is a very bardic activity and it goes with the boasting culture. Praise extravagantly, praise often, praise with passion and conviction. Get in there and tell people how great they are. Visibly admire stuff. Actively support the people who are able to say good things about their own work. Talk in positive ways about your own work so as to model this for other people. Take pride in who you are and what you do in ways that will help other people feel able to do the same.

No one who is doing the work should feel like an imposter. No one should feel that they have to say they feel like a fake – we really need to avoid having a culture of people not being allowed to respect themselves. If you do need to express discomfort, find other and better words. It is ok to be having a shit day. It is ok to say this piece of work isn’t going the way you want it to. It is ok to say you haven’t done the things in a while and this is impacting on your sense of self. It is ok to be uncomfortable, and being uncomfortable does not mean you are invalid.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

9 responses to “Druidry, language and imposter syndrome

  • Yvonne Aburrow

    In Heathenry, the sumbel ritual consists of three rounds: brag, boast, and toast. In the brag round, you brag about things you have done (feats of any kind, can include the arts). In the boast round, you boast about things you will do. In the toast round, you offer praise — nowadays to the gods, but perhaps in the past, to other people too. The important thing about all of these (brag, boast, and toast) is that they are said over the sacred mead horn, and therefore take on the character of sacred oaths: the brag and the toast must be true, and the boast must be fulfilled—you’ve made a promise before the gods to do the thing.

    In Druidry, you have the eisteddfod, which is an excellent celebration of the bardic arts.

    I wish we had something like either of these in Wicca.

    I certainly agree wholeheartedly that false modesty about one’s artistic endeavours is not a Pagan virtue.

  • lornasmithers

    I’ve never heard of ‘imposter syndrome’ but then I don’t get out much. Any idea where and when the concept arose? Is it mainly a pagan or an artsy thing?

  • Sheila Murrey

    My husband always say, “He that tooteth not his own horn, the same shall not be tooted.” ❤️🦋🌀😉

  • locksley2010

    Say it, own it, thank it. 🍷

  • The arts in Paganism | Dowsing for Divinity

    […] Pagan traditions like to celebrate the arts, whether it’s in the eisteddfod of Druid ritual, or the skaldic arts of Heathenry, or making things for use in ritual and around the home. If you look at any list of Pagan values, you will not find false modesty, self-deprecation, or other similar traits on the list. Humility is on many lists, but not modesty (in any sense of the word). Boasting and bragging are fine, and letting it all hang out is fine. False modesty about one’s artistic endeavours is not a Pagan virtue. […]

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