After the debut of her wide-reaching novel Queenie this year, which tells the relatable self destruction of a twenty-something black woman in Brixton, Candice Carty-Williams has quickly become one of the most important voices in literature.
As she said herself in an interview with Stylist earlier this year, she used to wonder how she would fill her time if she became a full-time writer, but after shooting to the top of the Sunday Times best seller list she’s more likely to think “well, if I don’t sleep tonight, then I can get all my work done.”
It’s this humble attitude that makes her so relatable and loved by her fans, but speaking at Stylist Live LUXE Carty-Williams has also been open about struggling with imposter syndrome.
“I didn’t really see anyone who looks like me doing what I did, and this whole imposter syndrome thing, it’s a real thing. Especially when I’ve come from rooms that are filled with just white people and me,” says Carty-Williams.
She continues to explain that imposter syndrome seems to effect women more, potentially because of rigid gender stereotypes: “While I know that I’ve worked hard, I’m still working out that this all still real, like all the time. I have this conversation with my friends, and I think there’s this problem with identity in phrasing like ‘boys will be boys’.
“We’ve grown up with that phrase and it makes it okay that boys will just be boys, but we don’t have an equivalent. So we’re always trying to be something different and slot into an identity that has been given to us. So from the beginning, boys just do what they do, because that’s innately in there. But for us, I think we need to learn that we are enough and actively put ourselves into spaces.”
Carty-Williams says she’s noticed how prevalent imposter syndrome is in women, and she tries her best to help them see what she sees: “It happens a lot and it makes me really sad. I say to these women you are absolutely amazing. Look, you’re here and you’re doing it. The works starts within us.”
The reality is that imposter syndrome can chip away at anyone, even critically-acclaimed authors. But to help ourselves and the women around us we need to believe in and push ourselves into opportunities.
Images: Bronac McNeil / Instagram
Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.