My daughter recently got an internship with a big NYC literary agency. It is exactly the internship and the kind of job she wants and she is thrilled. Busy, stressed, but thrilled.
It’s all “virtual” in that she still lives in her apartment near the LSU campus and is taking classes, but she works two or three days for the agency, reading manuscripts they send her and stuff like that. All online.
Last week, she had a conference call for something they call “Intern Academy.” It’s apparently a chance for the interns to ask questions about the publishing industry and books and such.
She was totally freaked out by this because, as she said, “I don’t know what I’m doing.” I told her she’s an intern and by definition she doesn’t know what she’s doing. Plus, I said, “I don’t think anyone in any kind of creative, ‘thinking’ job thinks they know what they’re doing.”
I know several multi-published authors who finish a book and are convinced that’s the last one they will ever write. I worked as a Kelly girl for years and I often DIDN’T know what I was doing because it was my first day on the job or sometimes my only day in that office and the training was little to none. But there were other times when I worked some place for months and still often felt like I was just making it up as I went along.
I was in the Army for two years and always felt like I wasn’t REALLY in because I was in the Intelligence and Security Command and after basic training, it wasn’t really very military, and I was terrified someone would realize that I wasn’t really a soldier. To this day, I’m a little chagrined to stand up on Veterans’ Day with all the guys who served in war. I was in during “peace time,” if you can call the Cold War that, and don’t feel worthy to stand with people who literally risked their lives for the country, but that’s a different story.
The point is that EVERYONE, I think, who is doing “skilled” work, sometimes feels like an imposter.
Maybe if you are a dog walker or mow lawns or flip burgers for a living you might not feel that way about your job, but you might feel it about something else.
None of us, I maintain, ever REALLY feels like a grown-up, and therefore, we never really feel like we know what we’re doing.
I know I don’t.
What do you think?