Do I Have Imposter Syndrome?

Image sourced from https://www.startupbros.com

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.

Fanaa

 

The shrill cries and high pitched chatter as they hurried to school.

Eager for what they’d learn today,

Eager to see their friends, smile, learn, run and play.

 

Loud chatter and last minute pranks that enraged the neighbours,

Were met with mischievous eyes, gleaming smiles and happy faces,

Full of stories and dreams that would take them to different places

 

We saw them off with a smile on our faces and a glow in our hearts,

Our little hopes. Our heeras (jewels). Even our trouble makers were jewels

But little did we know

that they all lay dead in deep red pools.

 

High pitched screams pierced the skies.

Echoes of wailing mothers’ cries

And fathers’ disbelief as they saw a sea of

Green ties and young, dull, dazed eyes.

 

Word had spread: bullets were sprayed.

Guns wielded by men driven mad with blood lust.

It’s easier to kill green ties than those in khaki clothes.

They marched their way in, open fired and left leaving limp little bodies lying in the dust.

 

Their bloodshot, cold calculating eyes searching for their next victim,

Emptying souls of life and filling them with cold metal shards

Our scratched and bloodied heeras: Fanaa.

 

Come back. Play your pranks and be noisy.

Smile. Laugh as loud as you want.

Play together in the streets again. Fill them with your beautiful, musical chatter.

Please come back. The silence is deafening,

And the only thing we now hear is the sound of our broken hearts.

 

Birthday Blog

happy birthday

Today is my birthday! I often talk about the growth, decline and return of my Inner Lion – click to read. Its impact and influence upon my younger self has made for several entertaining – and highly embarrassing – stories. Some are so cringey that they make my toes curl up and others just make me question the whole idea of children’s intentions. For obvious reasons, I have omitted names* from the following story.

I was in Year 3 at primary school and at the time, I was a bit of an easy target for bullies. A chubby, frizzy haired child with an impossible name to pronounce. I had a nemesis during my earlier years at school – his name was Fred*. He was in the year above and had a reputation for being a spiteful bully; calling girls names, punching other students and generally making life hell.

For a number of months, Fred had been making my life at school hell. It ranged from calling me a “Paki” to interesting versions of my name. I had cried in the girls toilets and told my teachers about it. Alas: nothing had worked. My dad had told me: “Ignore it and walk away. If they follow you, stand up for yourself.”

One afternoon, during lunch time, Fred had resumed his usual post of bullying me. Remembering what my dad had told me I immediately picked up my Thomas the Tank Engine lunchbox and walked away from him. Alas: this also did not work as Fred proceeded to hurl insults at me as he ran after me. In a corner of our playground, there was aIMG_1413bench next to a large bush with orange berries. I used to hang out there in my attempts to get away from Fred. I sat down, closed my eyes, said every prayer  my grandma had taught me and tried not to cry as Fred sat down next to me. He pinched my arm, pulled my hair and cruelly called me a “four-eyed-monster.” I opened my eyes, turned away from him and absently began picking the berries off the bush. Fred saw what I was doing and innocently asked: “What are you doing?”

A little smile crossed my childish face as I turned around with my left hand full of little orange berries. I looked at them and looked at Fred; a light bulb flashed. I cleared my throat and said. “Don’t you know what these are?”

Fred, none the wiser, said “No, why else would I ask Four-Eyes?” Usually that would have upset me, but I was on the cusp of hatching a plan and had become tipsy with power. I smiled at Fred and replied, “You know how I always have Smarties in my lunchbox? Well this is where I get the orange ones from.”

Fred gasped, “You’re lying!” I closed my eyes and slowly shook my head in the same way that my grandma did before she said something religious. I said, “I’m not. My dad owns a shop and this is where the Cadburys gets orange Smarties from.”

Before Fred protested, I held up my right hand and said “You’ll look stupid, everyone knows, but you’re more than welcome to ask them!” I stretched out my left arm with the orange berries glinting in the sunlight: “I wouldn’t lie.  I eat them all the time: here have one.” Fred looked at me suspiciously. Biting my tongue, I gave my most reassuring smile and gently nodded for him to take some. He gingerly took three and popped them into his mouth gruffly saying, “Thanks.”

I got up and left – I had no idea what the berries were but I knew they weren’t orange Smarties! I ran away high five-ing myself for my heroic behaviour. The next day Fred didn’t come into school. The day after he didn’t come into school. In fact, Fred didn’t come back to school for three weeks. The headmaster gave the entire school a special assembly on dangerous berries and plants! I remember being wracked with guilt when I saw Fred in the canteen – this was quickly overcome with delirious happiness as he turned pale and ignored me. A few days later, the large bush with the orange berries was cut down. But the best bit of all: Fred stopped bullying me.