It was dark and silent. Not a single other person was around. Every single noise that came from the woods was amplified by the surrounding silence. The only hint of civilization nearby was the sound of cows as they grazed. Their loud bellows was the only clue that other people were nearby.
One of the first major things my wife and I did back when we started dating was go on a camping trip. Both of us have a fondness for the outdoors. We were young, then, and this would be our first camping trip we had taken by ourselves. Until then, the two of us had only gone camping with family or in my case, the boy scouts.
I chose a campground my parents had been to several times when they were younger. Based on their stories, it was a great place to tent camp. Now, I should probably tell you, my wife and I don’t exactly “rough it” on our camping trips. We don’t pack up a hiking bag and travel into the middle of the woods or anything. We prefer to camp in actual campgrounds around other campers. I’ve heard it referred to as car camping before, but I don’t like the term.
Anyway, we drove all the way out to this campground and set up camp. We soon learned we were completely alone. Not a single other person had booked a site for that weekend. Which is pretty odd because there’s almost always someone camping in every park in Florida. But we didn’t care. We’d have the whole park to ourselves. It would be fun! I will say, we weren’t wrong. It was fun! But it does get a little strange at first. We started to wonder if we should even be there. Did everyone know something we didn’t? Was this a terrible place to camp this time of year? Were the bugs too much to bear? What was it that kept everyone else away that we didn’t know?
Not belonging is something almost every author or writer goes through. It’s called the impostor syndrome. It’s not exclusive to writers, of course, but it’s something we deal with. You write a book, you go through all the hard work of plotting, writing, and editing. You publish it and then go to talk about it on social media or in person. Suddenly, all the hard work you put into the book seems trivial. No one is going to care about what you made because you’re a nobody, right? Maybe if you were Stephen King or George R. R. Martin, people would care. But who are you? No one will care.
Well, that’s entirely wrong. Not as many people will care as they might a King book or some other well-known author. But that doesn’t mean you don’t belong. You put the work in. You crafted something only you can craft. When you think about it, you wrote something only you could write. No one else could have written the story you did. Give someone else a laptop and fifty years, and they could never create the same story you did. That must count for something.
The impostor syndrome is just something we trick ourselves into believing. We tell ourselves we don’t belong because someone has more success than we do. But think about it this way, every single one of those successful people spent a point in their career where no one knew a thing about what they wrote either. We all start at the same place.
And just like my empty campground with raccoons harassing us while we cooked marshmallows because we were the only campers nearby, you belong. It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. It doesn’t matter what success others have made for themselves. If you’ve worked hard to create something, you belong there too. Don’t put yourself down because you haven’t achieved the major success of others. Raise yourself up for the amazing things you have achieved!
Back to the empty campground I told you about. I’ll leave you with this amusing story. My wife and I lay there in the middle of the night in our tent. From somewhere in the woods, we heard a pack of coyotes whooping and snarling as they chased something. They barked and shouted until they finally caught their meal and went quiet. In that moment, for a brief second, I had wondered if this was why no one else was here? Was there a pack of wild wolves or coyotes terrorizing the area and everyone left? Turns out, no. That’s just nature.
Until next time, keep wandering. Just not alone.
To cover up his search history, Evan Bond is a thriller/suspense author. As an outdoor enthusiast and horror lover, Evan Bond enjoys writing stories where the two come together. He lives in Florida with his wife and two sons.