is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".
Years ago almost right when I moved to LA, I joined AFTRA. I worked doubles every day for almost 2 years to move out to LA with $10,000 saved. I had lived with my parents at the time so this was possible for me. AFTRA was $1600 to join. Anyone could join, it wasn't like SAG. You didn't have to get 3 vouchers, or a Taft Hartley, or book a speaking role. I had been doing background work as a day job, and kept booking AFTRA projects to where I was a must-join. I knew I'd make the money back after 2 weeks of work, and that meant I could continue working AFTRA projects. I joined.
In 2012, SAG and AFTRA merged to become SAG/AFTRA. I was grandfathered in, waiving any SAG initiation fees because I was already AFTRA. I've always felt like a fraud because of this. It also limited me immediately as an actor. I had no credits, no agent, no footage, and I could only do SAG/AFTRA projects now. I'm competing with real professionals now. Celebrities. Working actors. Seasoned actors. In an agency meeting I'd get the question "You have no credits, and you're SAG? How did this happen?"
-- Even though they've merged, for shorthand people still just call it SAG. --
I feel like I did something wrong. Something illegal. I didn't though. It wasn't my decision to merge the unions, SAG members voted on it too. Other AFTRA members were grandfathered in too, I wasn't the only one. Why do I feel so guilty?
Then I'd hear people saying "Be careful, don't join the union too soon!" to other people. That's a punch in the gut. I definitely joined too soon. How will I ever get credits now? To this day I still have no credits, was it my mistake of joining AFTRA too soon? Maybe. I did book a SAG/AFTRA national commercial in 2014 though. I can say I've booked a national. That's my one win.
I audition regularly now for SAG/AFTRA network TV shows. I am a legitimate actor. It took me 9 years to feel like one though. You go through the motions; class, headshots, workshops, networking, producing your own content, etc. But without auditioning for actual projects, it's hard to feel like an actor. Then there's auditioning but never booking. Am I a real actor then? Don't I have to be paid to be a real actor? Am I fooling myself? -- Then there's only booking co-stars, but never guest-stars. Then there's only booking the same roles; cop, doctor, lawyer. I have range though, right? Do I not? Maybe I'm not as good of an actor as I thought. They can only picture me as this one type. -- Then there's never getting called in to audition for series regular. The list goes on, and is never-ending.
My point is, no matter where you are in your career; You may deal with imposter syndrome. It's an easy trick for the mind to play. You are a real actor, writer, doctor, lawyer, nurse. You put the work in. Your heart is in it. You're showing up everyday and doing it. There's nothing to be "found out".
Don't ever let that negative voice in your head make you think you aren't a real actor, or whatever your profession is. Stop basing your worth on other people's accomplishments. Just because you aren't starring in a show opposite an A-list actor, doesn't mean you aren't successful. The timeline of success looks different for everyone. Being a celebrity isn't success as an actor. I mean it is obviously, but the real success is having the balls to call yourself an actor. It comes with a lifetime of skeptics and scrutiny.
"Well what can I see you in?"
Nothing yet. Keep watching though. You'll see me. Maybe after you've forgotten you ever even met me, but you'll see me.
You aren't an imposter. Own what you are. Stop saying you're trying to be an actor, you're trying to be a writer. There is no try. You either are, or you aren't.