ECCC, Excitement, Impostor Phenomenon, and Neil Gaiman

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I took my break at work like any other day and sat on the couch in the break room. Opening up my email I had a message from a representative leading the Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC) gaming team. I knew that the acceptance emails would be sent out soon so this email would impact my entire day. I actually applied for the ECCC indie showcase on a whim not knowing what to expect as I have never actually gotten the chance to experience ECCC as an attendee. I held my breath and opened the email, "Thank you for applying to be part of this year's Emerald City Comic Con Indie Games Showcase demo area, located on Level 2 of the Washington State Convention Center. We are thrilled at the number of applications we received, and are delighted to extend this invitation for you and your company to present your games to ECCC show attendees." (Emphasis mine)

Well, I’m afraid we’re onto you. We’ve caught up with you and I’m afraid you are now going to have to go out and get a proper job. At which point in my fantasy, my heart would always sink and I would say ‘okay’ and I’d go out and buy a cheap suit and start applying to real jobs.
— Neil Gaiman

So my first convention to showcase my game happens to be one of the largest pop-culture conventions in the world. This was and still, as I am writing this, is a lot for me to take in. I hope that as you are reading this I am coming across as prideful, I honestly still don't know how I got in. I love my game... I love the art, design, mechanics, and story that has evolved from countless nights sharing stories of survival in the world of music festivals and conventions. I can't seem to silence a voice in the back of my head that whispers to me about how much of a fraud I am and soon almost 100,000 people will know too.

Of course, this is a very common thing for people, so much so, we have a term for it. Impostor Phenomenon (commonly called Impostor Syndrome) is a collection of thoughts similar to mine that attacks the very core of who we are. In my life, this has been a common fight whenever any semblance of success comes my way. Every award, every showcase or festival, every happy moment of my life there is a nagging voice that I have had to learn how to move past. I am using those words on purpose because I am not a professional and I don't think we can really conquer these kinds of things, we just find ways to press on.

Amy Cuddy talks about a time that she got to talk with Neil Gaiman who openly talks about his own struggle with impostor syndrome. To think someone as successful and amazing as he also struggles with this issue is a little reassuring, even more so when I realize that some numbers suggest that more than 70 percent of people struggle with this. It is a calming feeling to know that you are not alone and in good company.

So, where am I at while I am writing this to you? It is 7 AM after a sleepless night, my head filled with a sea of voices wishing I could just turn it off and go to sleep. In these moments I decide to work because the alternative is boring. There are a lot of great articles that I found when doing basic research on the topic of impostor syndrome and I thought about writing about how to overcome it, citing my sources of course.

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I chose to go a little more emotional... hit a little closer to home. In a world of fake, you deserve something more real. Here is a picture of me the day I got my banner from the printer. My nose is red simply because I was holding back tears. After the picture was taken and shared, I went to my office to close the door and just be alone for a second. I wanted to sit in the sheer joy of seeing a project that I had been working on for four years finally turn into a reality. At that moment the only voice I could hear was one just saying over and over..."Reality is really what I make of it."

I hope that you too get to experience that feeling. I hope that you get to accomplish the things you dream. I hope that you don't have to suffer from the voice nagging you, calling you a fraud. I hope that you push through the voice and see the reality you dream of. Even if no one else gets it and to everyone else, your creation is a failure, you are still happy because you still have your art and you...

Stay Foolish!

Chris