Tom Hiddleston And The Cast Of Loki | The Art Of Imposter Syndrome

First thing you need to know about me – I’m horrible at directions.

The second thing you need to know. I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome for as long as I can remember, and I know I’m not alone with that.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll know what I mean when I talk about imposter syndrome. It’s that surly feeling in the pit of your stomach; the seeping, dark jealousy that oozes through your bloodstream and curdles your soul. The unshakable belief that everyone else is, and always will be, better than you.

I’m sitting writing this feature on a train, on my way back from London MCM Comic Con 2021. I was lucky enough to be invited to a discussion with Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Sophia di Martino (Sylvie) and Jonathan Majors (He Who Remains) – some of the cast of Disney’s hit Marvel TV show, Loki.

Wait, What Loki TV Show?

If you haven’t seen it, first of all, what are you doing? The Loki series takes place in an alternate timeline created just after the Battle of New York from the 2012 Avengers movie. It’s the first MCU Disney+ show to be renewed for a season 2. Bar that… controversial episode 6 ending, Loki has been praised by fans and critics alike, garnering an IMDB score of 8.8/10.

On my way to Comic Con, I got on the wrong end of the train. Not a big deal, but it meant I had to walk through First Class to find my seat. Clutching my lukewarm mozzarella panini and energy drink close to my chest, I could feel the judgemental eyes cast over my Pokemon shirt, daggers glaring into my lopsided beanie. I’m standing out amongst the sea of suits.

“I don’t belong here”.

I walked into the ExCel center, and I was immediately lost among a haze of heady perfume and costumed fans. This is the first big event I’ve been to in-person since Covid restrictions were lifted in the UK, which made the crowds almost unbearably loud. I headed over to the help desk and I was escorted to the press picket in the auditorium.

“Am I really meant to be here?’

I glanced nervously around, trying to make myself as unoffensive as possible as I squeezed past the ‘real’ journalists, who definitely do, actually, belong here.

Their content is going to be better than mine” I think, as I dig out my dogeared notebook and pencil from my backpack. “Something’s going to go wrong”.

The Art of Imposter Syndrome

I’ve learnt to drag up courage and fake it, even when I feel like the smallest person in the room. I take off my jacket, sit up straight, pose with my pencil. This is, of course, what a ‘real’ journalist looks like. Full of confidence, passion, professionalism. That’s what I want to be, but of course, could never actually achieve.

A lot of people say to do this to combat imposter syndrome – a ‘fake it til you make it!’ kind of thing. I’ve always been uncomfortable with this – it doesn’t address the problem, rather hides the self-doubt under a pompous layer of smoke and mirrors.

As the lights dimmed and the music swelled, I sat in my plastic chair, tearing and folding the edges of my notebook with nerves. “I’m a little rusty on my shorthand” I thought to myself, as I scribbled down notes of soundbites and timestamps in my recording.

What About loki?

The panel spoke about a variety of interesting things, from secrets about Season 2 of Loki, to the implications the show has for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But the thing that stood out to me the most was a brief discussion about the pressures of delivering on such a highly-anticipated show. Particularly interesting was the way in which all three actors defined imposter syndrome.

Sophia di Martino, who plays Sylvie in Loki, says that it’s more sort of nerves and excitement nowadays, and “the day that goes away, maybe it’s the time to stop”. She reminds herself that it “adds some kind of energy and it makes me very grateful for my job”.

They tell the crowd the feeling is there for the simple fact that you care for what you’re doing. Sitting there, with butterflies in my stomach, as I shuffled the notes with the questions I’d been planning in my head for the last 10 years, I realised that actually, I do belong here, as much as anyone else does. Someone thinks I’m good enough, even if that person isn’t me.

That song in your heart belongs to you”

Third thing you need to know about me.

I idolised these Marvel actors as a child. The comics, the lore, the stories, all offered me a place to belong when my own world wasn’t safe. Now, Tom Hiddleston is sitting a few feet away from me, talking about the pressures he felt of playing a character that has offered a form of escapism for so many lonely kids since 2011.

“I’ve always enjoyed playing Loki, he’s such a complex character with so many complexities and contradictions. And the longer I played them, I felt an increasing responsibility to deliver the character that everybody loves, but also a curiosity about finding new facets every time”.

A distressing number of people in the crowd raised their hands when asked if they suffered from imposter syndrome. To my surprise, this included the people around me in the press picket. Hiddleston went on to offer some tips:

“We’re in a collaborative world… Be on time. Be prepared. And be true to you. There is no one on this Earth who is like you. You’re the only person who can do what you do. Who has lived your life, has internalised your experience.

That song in your heart belongs to you, and you alone. Hold that very dear, because it’s precious, and every voice is worth hearing.

Parasocial relationship aside, I could feel my song fluttering like a fragile bird against a metal cage. Even if I can’t remember how to string my own melody together, my heart sure as hell sings for the 14-year-old girl who ran a Tumblr blog dedicated to these fantastical worlds to escape her own.

So whatever story you have, whatever you want to sing, keep it close, hold it dear and stay true.”

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Featured Image Credit: Disney+