Once upon a time, somebody gave a name to imposter syndrome and it resonated with so many people that decades later it had entered common parlance and I heard it and smiled, for finally ‘that feeling’ had a name. Despite my education and training, despite the support of experienced lawyers at the very top of their specialisms and despite many years of hard work, I spent much of my career in the City on tenterhooks, waiting for somebody to march in and announce that they had found me out, that I wasn’t supposed to be there and dismiss me from their sight.
In fact it only happened to me once, in my first proper week on the job, when a second year trainee failed to return to the UK and I was assigned in her stead to a rather particular partner. He did not want a shiny new trainee and made it very clear, despite having known me for all of thirty seconds, that I was not up to doing the job. He assigned me to making up flat pack boxes and I went home and sobbed. Fortunately we parted ways a few short days later, much to our mutual relief and in twelve years, nobody else ever made me feel so small. Quite the opposite, so many people gave of their time and energy to make me a better lawyer, a better writer, a better presenter, a better manager and a more confident person, which makes it seem all the more unfortunate that he should have been my introduction to life as a solicitor.
Given that I still felt an outsider as a lawyer having spent my whole adult life on that track, I am somewhat nervous about taking my first tentative steps into the literary world, where I am a total novice and have everything still to learn. Although I have lived my life very comfortably in books, bookshops and libraries, I have never been to any literary festivals or even book signings and have little idea what to expect. Not only that, being at the very first stages of becoming a writer, it feels very presumptuous to describe myself as such.
Despite my own instinctive urge to hide behind my computer until the book is complete, I couldn’t resist going along when Michael Rosen came to visit my hometown. I am pleased to confirm that the first author I met was rather more motivating than the first lawyer; I found Mr Rosen to be a real character, brimming over with enthusiasm and exuding a very genuine warmth that was inspirational. I waited in line, books in hand ready for signing, behind a very charming older lady who seemed strangely nervous. It transpired that she had not only taught him as a youngster, but also featured in the memoir she wanted him to sign. His delight at seeing her was heartwarming and his expressive poetry, performed to a group of schoolchildren was full of energy, demonstrating a sincere passion for words without a scrap of pretension. This time I was lucky. All in all, I would be more than happy if I could be like him when I grow up.