Do I Have Imposter Syndrome?

Image sourced from

This is a topic which has been on my mind for a while. Even as I type this up, I’m deliberating as to whether or not I should even writing about this, because it’s very different to what I usually blog out.

Secondly, I don’t know if this is really something that I should be owning up to.

If I were to give an estimated time length, of how long this has been inside my head, I’d say that it would be years. Thankfully this has also been a topic of discussion which is being held by many professionals across a variety of industries.

The other week (by the way this could be anytime from earlier today to a year ago!) I remember putting a tweet out where I mentioned something about Imposter Syndrome. I was met with a reply from a follower who asked me what that was.

I remember feeling unable to coherently express what it was and how I felt in 140 characters to that person. I kept staring at my phone screen, reading and re-reading what had been said. Don’t get me wrong: it’s not like I didn’t want to respond. It felt like something was physically blocking my throat, mind and preventing my hands from typing out a response. I felt a hot rush of shame as I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t have the guts to actually discuss it; this is a process in work as I try to overcome it.

The fact that I feel stupid does not mean that I am stupid.

At this point, you’d be forgiven for thinking that I should probably take a rain check on the type of company that I keep, re-evaluate my working life, improve my self esteem and not listen to that niggling voice in my head/sinking feeling which both tell me that all of this isn’t real and that I don’t deserve the success coming from Avid Scribbler and my professional life.

I have days where I look at how far I’ve come in the past three – four years, at my current age, and feel a sense of awe mixed with shock, surprise and the lurking anxiety that it’s all in my head. Like it never existed and that one day I’ll lose my knack for writing.

The thing is, it’s not got anything to do with self esteem, as ironic as that sounds. Secondly, at a glance, it appears that it is mostly women who experience this. There certainly seems to be more women who are more open about this, in comparison to men, but it doesn’t mean that this is something which exclusively affects women.


If I were to try and describe it, I’d say that it probably feels like this. It’s like the bottom of my stomach has dropped out, my heart starts to pound crazily, an icy feeling spreads inside my chest, this heaviness comes into my head which makes my eyes burn and my throat tightens. Sometimes it feels like I’m behind a see through wall, where I can hear, see and participate in everything, yet feel very much like someone on the outside looking in.

On the surface, most people would never guess that this is something that I have strongly felt – and still do – for years. Even when I think about it, my only hope is that it eventually goes away or that I learn to manage it in such a way that it doesn’t even cast a shadow in my mind.

“There is as much difference between us and ourselves as there is between us and others.” – Michel de Montaigne

This is not a post seeking to get sympathy from anybody; this is me admitting to not feeling good enough despite the leaps and bounds that I have experienced (and am yet to experience). This is also a post to show that I’m just as human as any other person on this planet. This is a post to normalise feeling like this and to tell anyone who is feeling this way to not minimise yourself because it’s frighteningly normal.

Many people, including the ones that I work with and look up to as inspirations, have branded social media networks (such as Facebook) as channels where narcissism is bred, the sincerity of life and friendship are eroded as we post seemingly happy photos of our lives.

While there is a degree of truth in this (after all who doesn’t feel a little disheartened at idyllic lives on social media?) it’s not right to brand Facebook as Fakebook. After reading this post, I could very well be accused of only creating posts which celebrate the glossy parts of my life. It couldn’t be further from the truth; it’s my way of documenting my journey and having a visual track of how I am doing – it’s another way of me keeping Imposter Syndrome at bay.

Over time, I’ve found that Imposter Syndrome doesn’t go away, even if every single person on planet Earth compliments and praises you. Much like everything else, it’s an inside job and I have realised that the only person who can thunder punch it senseless is me – whether that’s mentally or by continuing to write even when Imposter Syndrome is screaming at me not to.

The Man From Twitter

Image sourced from @UGpk. Poetry by Warsan Shire

Granted the title of tonight’s post sounds extremely dodgy, but please bear with me. Despite the inarticulate nature of this post, it’ll be worth reading in the midst of negative content which is currently circulating everywhere.

We were rocked and shaken to our core when Paris was ripped apart by a series of terrorist attacks which saw innocents slaughtered on a Friday night out. Something that we all take for granted.

I have tears in my eyes writing this week’s blog post because of events that have happened/are happening around the world. But my heart feels incredibly heavy and my eyes are swollen from one conversation I had with someone on Twitter. I’ve decided not to name him, because I’m not sure if he would want his name to appear in my post tonight.

All I can say is that it’s not often that a brief conversation from someone, who I don’t know, has the ability to reduce me to tears in less than 140 characters.

“…I have been ever so defensive over my beliefs and faith due to the backlash”

As someone who used to work in the media, I am all too aware of how well sensationalist stories sell with the intention to gain traction on social media and make money for various publications. I am also all too aware of the devastating impact it has on individuals and communities; that is why this man’s message has hit me on an emotional level.

I remember the inner moral conflicts that I used to have whenever I would have to write about certain topics. I would be wracked with nerves, knowing that I was writing content that would cause problems for people who looked like me. If I’m completely honest, it is something that still stays in the back of my mind and is enough to make me feel ashamed of myself.

And before people start to spout the whole: “Oh but not all *insert ethnic group* are like that” I would like to say this to you: “Just because it is not happening to you, to your friends, to your families or to people that you know, does not mean that it is not happening to thousands of people who look like me and have my skin tone.”

The concept that we forget is this: there’s no smoke without fire. Let’s take this down to a micro-level and think: what makes people snap? How do people, as human beings with emotions, generally react when they are backed into a corner? Or get to the point where they simply cannot take it anymore?

And before I hear the chorus of: “Yeah well I’ve had a hard life and I’ve never done this” – good for you. You have just proven that you have a vague sense of restraint over your emotions, a high opinion of yourself and not a shred of empathy for how other humans react to stresses and traumas.

“…the more people who think like you & me, the more chance we have of achieving this [peace].”

This is not an excuse for the acts of terror that are being committed by religious extremists, but, it is worth listening to and understanding the other side of the story. The story that we don’t seem to hear enough of. These individuals who have committed such atrocities are also human beings with thoughts, feelings and emotions too.

Despite the horrific crimes against humanity that Hitler, Mussolini, Mao and Mugabe committed, it is interesting to note that there is an unusual amount of literature, psychology journals and studies dedicated to how they behaved as human beings and what motivated them to do what they did.

By labelling terrorists as ‘monsters,’ ‘scumbags who deserve to die,’ condemn an entire religion/ethnic group/people who resemble them and call them names which I won’t repeat in this post, continues to strip them off their humanity and deepen the ‘Them-and-Us’ narrative.

As long as we continue to encourage and uphold a social discourse seeped in anger, fear and prejudice, we will never fully understand what influences people to become radicalised – let alone develop effective programs to stop it. It will remain to linger in the shadows, when it needs to be discussed in a balanced and open manner.

Older generations grew up with the fear of communism threatening to destroy their way of life. This generation is growing up being fed on the fear of terrorism and it is the fear of fear which is crippling us.

“Your kind words mean so much to us right now. And it’s thanks to people like you, I can still believe in peace.”

How is it that this tweet made me break down in tears? I actually had to leave my desk at work and cry it out in private because it hit me so hard. We all focus on the external destruction that terrorism is causing in our world, with no regard for the internal destruction that is happening to millions of people who are either Muslim, have brown skin and/or have Middle Eastern sounding names.

Perhaps it’s because I’m of South Asian descent and a brown woman which makes me able to actually feel his pain. Perhaps it’s because the men and women that I have grown up with, am related to and work with are subject to the harsh scrutiny that this man and his community constantly feel. Heck it’s happened to me and my loved ones enough in my life so far.

Yes, they have killed. Yes, we must do something to protect all citizens. Yes, the anger, pain and outrage that we are all experiencing is justified. Yes, we must not let such incidents erode our sense of social unity. But reacting in blind anger will only lead us down a path which we will be unable to recover from.

It is too easy to hate, act rashly and call to ban religions in our ‘democracies,’ as we lash out in our struggle to grapple with our emotions and try to make sense of what has happened.

But right now that is what I am seeing. I am not seeing the messages of peace, tolerance and love that so many of us (including myself) are calling for. And in a world that is currently in anguish and turmoil, hate is the last thing that we should be advocating.



Integration is Assimilation

Story telling

I’ve been meaning to write this for as long as I can remember, but something always held me back from openly discussing this.

The reasons (or excuses) varied from worrying that I’d attract trolls, offend people with my words, dishonour a part of my cultural heritage, which many deem as admirable, or that my voice on such a topic didn’t really matter.

The power of writing often means that, for those of us who are writers, we will inevitably attract undesirable people who spew venom for no apparent reason and respond to our work with a knee jerk reaction without reading the actual content. Regardless, I can’t stay silent on this issue anymore.

The issue of conformity is a recurrent theme which seems to flow through everyone’s lives; peer pressure, an expectation to behave a certain way or deviate from a stereotype, altering our bodies and lifestyle choices to appease a mainstream opinion.

One aspect of conformity that I have – and continue to face – is based on my choice to not drink alcohol. At a glance, it doesn’t seem to be a big deal, in comparison to those who undergo procedures to physically look like an ideal form of beauty. But I’d be lying if I said that it didn’t take its toll out on me.

As someone of Panjabi descent, my ‘culture’ is infamous for breeding alcoholics, men and women who enjoy their drink a bit too much and believe that their self worth is determined by how much they can drink before they pass out or get arrested for getting into a fist fight.

It’s a nasty stereotype that ‘Panjabis are all alchies’ – granted there’s a fair few of us who drink, but at the same time, there’s a lot of us who do not touch the stuff for our own personal reasons.

Is it any wonder that we either become dangerously obsessed with or disenchanted with our ethnic heritages?

Sidelined with this, is a society whose social life and general mesh of cultures/lifestyles are seeped in the dizzying delights of alcohol and the brief escapism that it faces. The one thing that both cultures have in common is a shock when they encounter individuals who do not drink alcohol.

I cannot tell you the number of times, that acquaintances and work colleagues have tried to slip me alcohol or coerce me into drinking without knowing my reasons why – and why should they know what my reasons are?

This observation led me to consider the ways that the pressures of conformity exist on both sides of life; particularly for those of ethnic descent. For some, it may not feel like there are sides to pick or that they feel torn between the two. However, I have chosen to describe it as a tug-of-war, because that is certainly how it feels to me.

The title of tonight’s blog post is deliberately misleading and designed to be confusing. The bulk of most people truly do believe that ‘integration means assimilation’ without having any understanding of how separate both terms actually are.

In addition, it is apparent that the lines between what words mean and the impact that they are having upon our society, are becoming increasingly muddier as we enter a phase of political correctness and a society where we have started to fear everything that comes our way.

The whole notion of expectations, with regards to conformity, exists in many forms. Some of it often goes over our heads, but the vast majority of it is explicit in many areas of our lives, that some of us experience on a daily basis. Cultural expectations from our own various ethnic groups and heritages push us to the front of the crowd. We, become the unappointed ambassadors and reluctant leaders for our ethnic groups.

Culture is not something which we own nor is it something that we can ever hope to fully control.

We, the youth. We, the new generation. We, the ones who will change the world for the better. We are those who will one day rule the lands we live in and the businesses that dominate our lives.

Yet, we are still a generation who, despite our myriad of faces, personalities, talents and ambitions – remains to live in a constant state of limbo – be it financially, economically, emotionally, mentally, culturally and identity-wise – due to our neither-here-nor-there status.

Is it any wonder that we either become dangerously obsessed with or disenchanted with our ethnic heritages?

We grow up vehemently opposing the cultural beliefs and traditions which kept us locked down, yet it is ironic that we grow up to either implement those very same beliefs, or impose ones which are harsher upon ourselves and those around us.

We do all of this in the mistaken belief that they will ‘preserve our culture.’ We will begin to blacklist other religion’s festivals, in the name of preserving our own identity (which is as flimsy as pack of cards in the face of a hurricane) as we attempt to ‘out-culture’ and ‘out-religion’ each other to satisfy our egos.

It boils my blood to know that ideas of conformity are being pushed to the extreme in my ancestral motherland. How it hurts my heart to know that people are being killed for eating beef, being raped because they were out on their own, for belonging to a certain faith or ethnic group!

But to see various ethnic groups and communities continue to march down the path of regression, in the name of cultural preservation, is something which fills me with pain.

Culture is not something which we own nor is it something that we can ever hope to fully control.

Culture is as fluid as a running river; it changes in time, ebbs, flows, strengthens, wanes yet it will always exist in some shape or form. We cannot control the direction in which it flows, without it having devastating consequences.