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.