In all three books of the Hidden Sanctuary series, a recurring thread haunting Jacob’s conscience is that of being ‘found out’. In Hidden, this threat of discovery is tied up with his friendship with Sada, an Outsider, which the Tribe’s doctrine wouldn’t condone. In Exposed, it manifests as a fear of not living up to the role of mentor that was bestowed upon him by his predecessor who he greatly respected. And lastly, in Unmasked, it’s the fear of how his friends will react if they find out the truth about his past.
Fear permeates Jacob’s very existence, and while in books 1 and 3 he fixates on tangible reasons to dwell on what could go wrong, it is in book 2 – Exposed – that his self-judgement alone does the most damage. It’s only by thinking he’s not good enough that he takes himself down a path of detachment, isolation, and finally self-destruction.
In modern psychology, this act of self-sabotage – originally thought to be most prevalent in women, but now known to affect both sexes equally – is referred to as Impostor Syndrome.
Unless we’re narcissists or psychopaths (we’ll save those for another blog), none of us are completely sure of ourselves all of the time, no matter how much of a confident persona we may project. We all experience doubt, and we’re often our own worst enemy. But Impostor Syndrome is that unhelpful voice among all that negativity telling you that you’re out of your depth and sooner or later you’ll be found out.
It knows exactly what it’s doing. It’s debilitating and will punch you right where it hurts the most.
At its core, it’s driven by shame and feeds on fear. Shame that you might not live up to the person you claim to be. Shame that you’re deceiving people. Shame that when you’re found out, no one will want to know you. And fear of this ultimate shameful outcome is what will often have you stopping in your tracks, turning back, and perhaps never reaching your full potential.
Fraud is the word that screams in Jacob’s head when he wakes from yet another nightmare in Exposed. He doesn’t think he can ever live up to Michael’s portrayal of what a mentor should be. But what Jacob isn’t able to comprehend for himself – but others around him do – is that there are many ways to be a leader/mentor, and Michael’s was just one.
And the treatment for Impostor Syndrome? The courage and self-love to accept that not everything you do will be right or perfect, but it’s enough just to keep trying and keep learning. You are worthy, and you deserve the things you achieve.