Updated: May 30
Hello everyone! Long time no talk (well, type)!
Let's get down to the nitty-gritty from the get-go: I've been having a bit of trouble with this space. Don't take that personally, my dear blog - I do love you to pieces. Simply put, I've just had a bit of a confidence knock with you. I wish I could pinpoint a particular event which led me to feel like this, but alas that just isn't the case. In some ways, that's even more frustrating; since I can't pinpoint the catalyst and thus find it even trickier to find a way out. That's the tricky thing with 'imposter syndrome', it tends to develop over time, rather than hit you flat in the face.
Like many people, I entered this year with an overwhelming sense of optimism. Due to many reasons which I really don't believe need explaining, most people's positivity has now been replaced with an underlying sense of dread and worry. I'd be lying if I said that covid-19 amongst other things has not had a significant impact on my approach to writing and creativity, but there's definitely been something else lingering for quite some time. What with mental health awareness week coming to an end, it gave me the small push that I needed to sift through my draft notes and actually publish this piece that has been sitting dormant.
I actually tried to rewrite this piece a month or so ago, but upon my research, I found a lot of people felt similar to me. You would think this would make me feel better, but listening to everyone's stories and realising I'd be the platform these stories were posted? Well, the writer's block hit me hard. This was one of the most difficult posts I've written, and I hope you get something out of it, even if it's just an understanding of what others may be feeling.
A quick Google defines Imposter Syndrome as 'a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud"'.
note: I no longer work as a freelance barista full time (sure shows how long this post has been drafted for) but I thought it was worth keeping in.
Turns out the feeling of imposter syndrome is way more common than I had been led to believe. I'm a freelance barista, so I get the chance to roam freely around many different coffee environments and meeting so many awesome individuals and their experiences.
On that note, being a freelance barista sure can be tricky if you're not used to being sized up. For any of you who know me relatively well, you also know I have what is to many a strange take on coffee competitions. I don't like watching them, and I really don't like participating in them.
Let's start out with something incredibly important: this isn't because of the people. I think the idea of them, in theory, is great. I just am forever filled with this constant niggly feeling in my head that I'm doing something particularly wrong in making coffee and I'll be called out on it. Deep down I know this isn't the case, but I just cannot shake that niggly feeling, no matter how much reassurance I receive.
I will not delve for long in what I say next, because they really don't deserve the server space. I've worked good and bad jobs, behind the bar and in front of it on my laptop in the 'office', but there have been certain times in my employment where those in power have been the reason for my unhealthy self-doubt. Screw you guys. I wrote a piece on 'bad bosses' a little while ago which goes into more detail, and feel free to look back on that one. I'm thankfully no longer in a position like that and am surrounded by some amazing people (you know who you are), but if anyone is reading this and feels similar to the above and needs someone to talk to, I'm here.
Going back several years, I remember recording a live stream of me pouring latte art in a shop.
Looking back, it was pretty decent - this was definitely before the mass growth of insane patterns in latte art and standard symmetrical tulips and heartswere still somewhat impressive to the average consumer. However, I soon froze when I saw the one hurtful comment that was 'pathetic'. I doubted myself for a little while and began to tell myself that yes, of course I shouldn't be posting live streams - I'm nothing like those high-end latte artists who post these amazing coffees.
But this really should not have mattered - the whole point of my instagram was to not only promote the blog, but also make the specialty coffee industry that much more accessible for folks similar to me: those who found the industry daunting at times, but loved being a part of it. It had never really dawned on me that people would potentially find that concept strange, and I now understand that people like to lash out when they feel uncomfortable or are faced with something 'new'. I soon distanced myself from my content in a way that made everything a little less personal, losing a good portion of motivation and joy that had once come with my content creation.
I later adopted this 'imperfect' style, because let's be honest: who has perfect latte art every time they serve a coffee? Walk into a busy coffee shop and as long as my coffee is tasting fine (read: fiiiiiine), just do something simple on top of my flat white and i'll lovingly slurp that beverage like the liquid gold status it deserves.
(i cannot do swans and nothing will change that - so here's a photo of one which was made for me)
I'd be lying if I said I didn't believe there was an air of toxicity within the coffee industry.
I mean, personal experiences aside, a speciality market generally emerges to show a higher quality product, and consuming less than that quality is a good enough excuse to devalue a consumer's choice. We have gradually become better as an industry for sure, but I still find myself stumbling across an air of stuffiness even when I try so actively hard to steer clear of it.
It's taken me some solid years to figure this one out, but my writing is for me. I'm always astonished at all of you wonderful caffeinated beings who enjoy it too, and I'll never be able to shake that fuzzy feeling off, but that wasn't why it was created. If I'd listened to other people talk about this old blog, then I would've quit 9 years ago when someone said 'it's only a space for pretty coffee pictures and a baby barista' (you can probably guess I strongly dislike like that term). Easier said than done for sure, but if I remind myself of the above, then Mr Imposter Syndrome continues to fade that little bit more from my brain with each passing day.
So, to anyone who sent me a lovely message during a specific downtime or tricky period, I thank you for both your care and patience. As I have so many post drafts to get through, I like to think that writing this and getting it out into the open will help me come to terms with my self-induced negativity and kick that creative noggin' into gear. I won't promise anything for sure (mental health comes first folks!), but I'd like to see myself posting every week or two.
Have a great week, folks.
Mental health should not be faced alone. If you need to talk, please don't be stranger. You can reach me on instagram, twitter, or good old email. You can also contact the Samaritans online or by phone.
If you enjoy my content, please consider supporting me through Ko-fi. Please only do so if you can, look after yourself first: https://ko-fi.com/caffeinegalore