Giftedness, Creativity, and Storytelling – and Imposter Syndrome

It is the International Week of the Gifted 2012. Around the blogosphere, advocates for gifted adults and gifted children are writing about giftedness with a particular enthusiasm and energy. The World Council for Gifted and Talented Children is encouraging the use of International Week of the Gifted to pave the way for the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013 with the theme “Stories and Story Sharing”.

Giftedness, creativity, and the power of sharing our stories are three of my passions. I feel compelled to do something, organize something, create something.

If I had my druthers, I would organize a series of workshops, offered to gifted children and their parents, using the storytelling tools of InterPlay to help them tell their own stories, hear each other’s stories, and share them through a public performance. I have the training to do this, but I am not sure I have the time, and I definitely worry about whether I have the gumption.

You see, I suffer from the great gifted woman’s disorder: Imposter Syndrome. Essentially, Imposter Syndrome involves constantly feeling like a fraud, like you are not as competent as people around you, and as they think you are. There is an accompanying fear of being “found out” and a lack of willingness to put oneself forth as a resource.

In my case, it manifests as a reluctance to set up workshops because I fear no one will come and that if they do come, they will feel like they have wasted their money. But, I know from past experience that I am a good teacher and a good director. When I lead InterPlay workshops, people enjoy them and many folks want to know how they can experience more.

Lisa Rivero’s article Who Do You Think You Are? Re-Thinking the Imposter Syndrome introduced me to the idea that the feelings of being an imposter may be a sign that one is heading in the right direction and that one should lean into the fear and work through it rather than letting it stop you. That idea resonates with me.

If you had asked me when I was 14, what work I wanted to do when I grew up, I would have said I wanted to run a theatre and associated theatre school. A few years later, I saw a performance by teenagers of monologues they had written about their own lives and was struck by the immense power of people telling their own stories in performance. I spent the next 15 years working in theatre, remembering the power of the autobiographical performances, yearning to be part of such things, and yet not doing any work in that area. Until I found InterPlay.

When I discovered InterPlay, I was teaching a class called Sacred Bodies, Sacred Play at Starr King School for the Ministry. I had developed a collection of tools for triggering spiritual experiences through physical play and creativity and was sharing them in the class I was teaching. The overlap between the forms I had discovered myself and was teaching in that class and the forms of InterPlay were uncanny.

But, I had not been formulating my system into a teachable tool for very long and Cynthia Winton-Henry and Phil Porter had been working on InterPlay for decades. InterPlay was in many ways simply further along the path than I was. More than that, InterPlay had developed the tools for combining the physical body, the spirit of play, and improvised performance into truth-telling performances sharing deep stories, thereby joining my play-based work with the power of performance autobiography that I had witnessed so many years before. It is no wonder that I started the InterPlay Teacher Training Program immediately after finishing my first class.

After completing the training, I didn’t dive right into teaching. For good reason. I was moving internationally while pregnant with triplets. I was otherwise occupied.

It is now time for me to start offering classes and workshops.

And, I feel the fear of the Imposter Syndrome surrounding me, telling me I am heading in an important direction, considering a meaningful path, and must take action.

I am not an Imposter. I am well trained for this work. But, sometimes, I have to remind myself of these facts.

  • I have been leading rehearsals and teaching performance as a director for 25 years.
  • I have been organizing rehearsals as a stage manager for longer.
  • I have organized events with substantial budgets.
  • I have produced theatrical productions and special performances for half-a-dozen theatre companies.
  • My InterPlay training was with the founders of InterPlay, including performance classes.
  • I have performed in several InterPlay performances as a dancer/storyteller.
  • When I participate in InterPlay Leaders Events, I am recognized as a peer by leaders with all levels of experience.
  • My understanding of the power of InterPlay as a storytelling tool has deepened through my writing about InterPlay.

I am hopeful that I will have time in 2013 to lead workshops for gifted children and their parents to share their stories. My family is going through some changes that will take some months to settle out, and until they do, I will not know what 2013 is going to look like.

But, I am committed to being a part of the world-wide community of people telling the stories of gifted people, sharing what our experience is. If the performance project looks too big, I will focus on telling more of my story through my writing.

Gifted people are identifiable because we are outside the norm. Sharing our stories helps us connect in a world where we too often feel isolated. I can be part of enriching that connection by sharing my own stories. One way or another, I will be creating work supporting the International Year of Giftedness and Creativity 2013 on the theme of Stories and Story-Sharing.

I hope you will join me in 2013 by either telling your own stories or finding other people’s stories to witness.

For a list of other posts related to International Week of the Gifted, click here

23 thoughts on “Giftedness, Creativity, and Storytelling – and Imposter Syndrome

  1. Lisa’s comment that Impostor Syndrome indicated you’re moving in the right direction really resonated with me. If that’s the case, I guess I am doing the right thing. 😉
    I’ve never heard of InterPlay, but what you describe…I can absolutely see you doing that, telling the stories of the gifted. They need to be told and they need to be heard. Sounds like your path. 🙂

  2. iygc says:

    Wow, this sounds incredibly worthwhile. I hope it happens, and I hope you can share a video, of at least part of what you do, with the world!

    • Kate Arms-Roberts says:

      Thank you. I really do want to make this happen. It is exciting that other people are excited by the idea.

  3. […] Giftedness, Creativity, and Storytelling – and Imposter Syndrome by Kate Arms-Roberts. […]

  4. Go for it! I think you have a wonderful opportunity to use your gifts and experiences to benefit the gifted community – and make connections in the process. I’m pretty jealous. As a leader, and as an InterPlay leader, I too suffer from imposter syndrome – but I have none of your cred!!

  5. I, too, suffer from the Imposter Syndrome, Kate. I will join you in leaning into the fear and in telling & witnessing stories.

  6. Dyck Dewid says:

    I’m inspired by your honest offering. I sense you have your arms wide open welcoming all to ‘come in and know me, see what I care about, how I learn, participate in life with me.’ I accept. Thanks, Dyck

  7. “I do so love to ponder and even quote the wisdom of the great mystics, teachers, and thinkers, but when I “stop” for a moment and take a good look at my situation I realize that it is also helpful to express in my own words the best of my understanding arising from my own life. The intention to speak truly without knowing where the words will take me is a journey from and into the living mystery.” Dennis Lewis, modern day mystic

  8. Andrea says:

    Hi Kate, Good for you!!! I clicked on the link. Is that the best place to get an idea of what Interplay is? It’s sort of intimidating, looks ‘physical.’ 😉

  9. Kate Arms-Roberts says:

    Andrea, It is difficult to get a sense of InterPlay from the website. It is physical in that the tools of InterPlay are designed to help connect the mind and the body, so the body has to be involved. But, It is playful, improvisational, easy, and non-threatening in approach. One of the central forms, for instance, is called Walk, Stop, Run because that’s all you do to play.

    The forms are designed to get people out of their heads and into their bodies. The tools come from performance traditions of storytelling, dance, and singing, but they are transformed into simple playful activities that anyone can adapt to their own comfort level. The activities range from sitting and talking to dancing with the freedom to incorporate all of one’s physical skills. Some of the most amazing pictures are of people with dance training, but most of the people I have played with haven’t danced since they we’re preschoolers. And InterPlay has allowed me, a pitch-matching challenged singer, to sing with professional singers in playful musical games.

    There are simple technique of witnessing others non-judgmentally and noticing the good that facilitate a comfort and ease about all of the forms, and allow people to feel heard and seen at a profound level without worrying about physical skill and performance quality.

  10. Imposter? You? No way! For me, the improvisational mind is part of how I get out of the way of my internal nay-sayer — the one that says I’m an imposter. It also is the way that I get out of the way of my “if I had time” monster. (Well, sometimes anyway.)

    I look forward to hearing about your workshops or playshops for children or other gifted humans.

    Playful blessings,
    Stan (aka @muz4now)

    • calially2 says:

      Kate – this comment reminded me of a saying of Cynthia’s – “it’s all practice!”. It helps me when I think that something I’m working on is not perfect but has to be presented by a deadline. Helps with the nerves.

  11. […] It is the International Week of the Gifted 2012. Around the blogosphere, advocates for gifted adults and gifted children are writing about giftedness with a particular enthusiasm and energy. The Wo…  […]

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