Rite of Passage Seventeen –The Helpmate–
1961-1962 I am twenty-eight years old
Q. Success due to “luck” not talent or skill? Have you ever felt this unsettling response? How did you deal with it…or did you also become “boring”?
The classic example of the imposter syndrome is a huge limousine pulling up at a fancy hotel. The head porter opens the back door and finds a small boy sitting alone. He is wearing shorts and looks startled, “What are you doing there little man!” thunders the doorman.
That’s how the imposter in the relatively new syndrome feels when he is discovered as being less qualified to be doing…whatever!
It’s almost exactly how I felt back in the early 60’s on New Zealand television. There I was, on Prime Time with a program that set out to provide dinner party directions to those who wanted to explore a gourmet lifestyle.
I was so certain that, at only 28 years old, I would soon be ‘found out’ by well seasoned older gourmets, to be…yes…an imposter, that I set out to prove my worthiness by knowing 170% more about the dish than I had the time to describe. That 170% was the percentage suggested by a communications expert in those early days when ‘depth’ was still a desirable goal for a commentator…on any subject.
The problem with a 170% back up is that it leaves no room for the unexpected or, for that matter, any sudden thoughts, especially happy and humorous ones that might engage the viewer and even cause a smile?
A smiling audience was not my objective. I strove to stop them frowning! As a result I was…boring!
So…what about now?
Treena brought this to my attention with a profound sentence that changed the rest of my life.
“You are the most unutterably boring man in the entire world and you need to do something about it!” She said this without her ever-present smile!
She also expressed the perfectly reasonable doubt that well seasoned older gourmets would never be my faithful ‘fans’ and that the vast majority who might watch would be people who had almost no knowledge of ‘classic’ cuisine.
“These people,” Treena explained “watch television because they want to be entertained…and informed; in that order!”
It was her certainty that eventually had her taking over as the show’s producer and, as a direct result, of me becoming less boring?
How about you…were you ever so ahead of your time that you lived with the threat of being asked, “What are you doing there little man…or woman”?
This week I am reading Treena’s poem Georgia Straits