When will I be found out? When will they realize I actually have no idea what I’m doing?
These are questions that run through my mind basically every day. Everything I’ve done or tried throughout my life since my teenage years has been sprinkled with feelings of being an imposter. Even silly things, like whether or not to wear makeup, were tainted with the idea that people would know I was faking it — they would know my skin doesn’t look as smooth without makeup.
I scared myself out of doing or being a lot of things because I didn’t feel knowledgable enough or worthy of being part of the group. I wouldn’t claim to like a video game or a TV show if I felt like I didn’t know enough about it, despite actually liking said video game or TV show.
I wouldn’t dress in the ways that I wanted to because I felt like I didn’t belong in the groups that dressed that way. I wasn’t hippy/crunchy enough to dress like a hippy — though a lot of my views and values would likely put me in that category — and I wasn’t “alternative” enough to dress in the edgy styles that I liked. I was so sure that everyone around me would see what I was wearing and think, “She’s not really like that. She’s faking.” So I often ended up feeling like a cardboard cutout of a person.
Maybe this isn’t the textbook definition of “Imposter Syndrome” but I’ve felt like an imposter all the same.
In school, especially in university, if I ever got a question wrong, my immediate thought would be, “Oh no, now everyone knows I’m not as smart as I’ve been pretending to be.”
Even when I feel like I know a large amount of information about something, or did very well in a class, the doubt creeps in that maybe I don’t actually know that much. There are so many other people who know much more than I do, and they talk about it in class. Of course, others knowing just as much as me or more does not take away from my own education or knowledge, but it’s hard to remind myself of that sometimes.
As I started to find my passion for writing and I started sharing my stories with fairly positive reactions from my friends and family, I felt as if they were just saying these things to be nice. They have to remind me that the fact that I’ve written an 82k word novel is a big deal because most of the time I feel like it’s just a fluke. Doesn’t everyone write novels?
I see other writers getting their short stories published, working freelance jobs, making money from their writing just in general and I feel like maybe I’m not a real writer because I’ve never made money from any of my writing. I’ve spent so much time working on my big novel project, that I don’t write many short stories. Am I being a writer wrong?
When I got accepted into a highly-competitive post-grad creative writing program, while I was happy, I couldn’t help thinking that maybe it had been a big mistake.
I love books and often refer to myself as a bookworm. But, at the same time, I constantly feel like I don’t deserve to be a part of the community because I haven’t read as many of the “classics” as other people, or non-fiction books, or not-as-well-known fiction books. Not following these guidelines — whether or not they’re just in my head — means that I’m not a real bookworm/bibliophile/whatever nickname someone who loves books goes by.
I practice yoga, though I’ve never been to India, I don’t know how to read Sanskrit, I don’t know the names of all the poses. So, do I deserve to be a part of the yoga community? Not knowing these things doesn’t mean I’m not open and willing to learn, but do I get to call myself a person who practices yoga?
In general, as an adult person who’s supposed to be functioning semi-successfully in the “real world,” sometimes I wonder when I’ll be found out as a fraud. When will the adulting police swoop in and take me to adulting jail? I have no idea how to be an adult, yet I spend my days going to work and pretending to be calm and collected. I pay my bills, I run errands when all I want to do is sit in my PJs and cry. I don’t know where I’m going, does that mean I’m failing as an adult?
I want to be proud of my accomplishments and my passions, but every time I write a new blog post, every time I try a new outfit, every time I post something clever on Twitter, I find myself immediately thinking, “This is it. Everyone will see how much of a fraud I am.”
Even as I’m writing this, I’m feeling a sense of doubt. Am I really experiencing Imposter Syndrome? Am I faking this too?
This way of thinking is not serving me, it’s not healthy. Deep down, I know these doubts is just a weird way of protecting myself from rejection, but it’s really my ego that’s being protected. My insecurities are not me. I am a writer, I’m a bookworm, I am someone who practices yoga, and I’m a person who likes to wear different styles of clothes. Sometimes, yeah, I’m even a somewhat successful adult.
To accept myself as who I am, truly, perhaps I should, in turn, accept my accomplishments and passions. I must trust my worthiness to exist as I am, and not feel like a pretender.
I am worthy!
So if you’re ever feeling like you don’t deserve credit for your accomplishment, your vast knowledge, or your passions, know that you are worthy of being proud. Repeat it: YOU ARE WORTHY!! You are also not alone in feeling this way and know that I’m probably feeling it x10.