Are you familiar with the phrase ‘fake it until you make it’? That is basically how I go into any situation I find myself in. I ‘fake’ being an independent and responsible adult. Sometimes I am, but I’m also still in my early 20s with an attention disorder. I tend to ‘fake’ my way through most things in life. I put the word fake in quotations because I am not sure if I am actually faking or if this is just my imposter syndrome manifesting itself. It really could be either one.
Imposter syndrome is pretty much the doubting of your own abilities and feeling like you are not worthy of your success. This can manifest in feeling like you don’t deserve to be happy because you were a bad person in the past. It can come in the form of feeling like you don’t deserve a promotion because you doubt your own capabilities. Everyone struggles with some sort of imposter syndrome. I know I do.
There have been times where imposter syndrome has taken over my entire life. I have spent a lot of my time doubting my place and what I am deserving of. It can be hard to remind yourself that you are deserving of your successes. We get into our own heads and create this sense of doubt based on our own insecurities. We are the worse critics of ourselves and imposter syndrome is a prime example of it.
My issues with my own imposter syndrome have caused a lot of issues in my professional and personal lives. I spend so much of my time listening to the negativity spread through my own brain that it puts me down a depression spiral filled with self-loathing and unworthiness. As we all know, I like to write… when I can. I pour all of who I am in what I write and how I present myself through my articles and through this platform. I usually get a lot of positive feedback from my friends, family, and other people who come across my writing, but for some reason there this voice in my head that causes me to doubt what I can do.
I know exactly where this stems from, and on a rational level I know those thoughts are completely wrong; but here is the thing. These thoughts didn’t manifest on their own. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to call myself a fraud. It stems from a lot of negative experiences I’ve had in my life of people making me feel like I wasn’t good enough just being me. It’s a hard thing to hear that who you are isn’t good enough and isn’t worth investing in. it messed me up for a long time and even though I am older and wiser, those thoughts and feelings manage to sneak back to the forefront of my mind.
It isn’t really a secret to people who know me in real life that I was an ESE student up until my junior year of high school. Basically, this means that up until junior year I had extra accommodations given to me in school for tests, speech therapy, assignments, and so on. This was given to me because my “learning disability” made it difficult for me to learn and succeed in a traditional class setting. I personally don’t see my learning problems as a disability now that I am older. I have the same capabilities of learning and development as everyone else, but I have a hard time investing my attention and energy in things I have no interest in learning, so I didn’t enjoy many lessons in school because I had no interest in them. I had to have a different way of learning because my brain doesn’t absorb information the same way other people’s does. I also had a ‘scribe’ for written assignments and essays up until middle school.
I had a problem conveying my thoughts and emotions in a coherent way on paper and in normal conversations. Even though the words written on my assignments were my own thoughts and ideas, I had to have someone else physically write it down for me. I’ve definitely came a long way, thanks to ESE.
Even through middle school and high school when I was finally learning useful tools to actually help me succeed, I still had no sense of value as a student or as a person. For a long time, I had teachers who had brought me down and told me I wasn’t worth investing in academically – yes, I literally had teachers tell me this to my face and that is the sugar coated version. Actual adults who were in charge of educating me and supposed to foster me for success- had no faith in me even getting a high school diploma. – Not all of my teachers, though. I had just as many positive, amazing teachers that whose work and efforts made me who I am today; a mediocre millennial who still doesn’t understand sentence structure.
These negative actions had created a permanent mark on my psyche. I personally don’t like talking about these things, but I feel very cathartic being able to write this all out. I have spent a lot of my life having people tell me that I am not good enough. I’m not a good writer, I won’t finish school because I “don’t work hard”, “you won’t ever be happy because you don’t deserve it.”
Success and happiness have become these seemingly unachievable goals in recent years. Our society makes us believe that we have to suffer in order to appreciate what we already have, while simultaneously reiterating the idea that what we already have isn’t good enough and we should be working harder to achieve more. It’s this crazy conundrum that makes no sense and makes everyone miserable. It makes us feel like who we are and where we are at isn’t of any value and anything more, we gain feels like it was stolen for someone who might deserve it more.
This downward spiral of self-doubt and societal drive to be better is the perfect recipe for declining mental health. My imposter syndrome causes me to go through deep depressive episodes and give me a lack of motivation. When I let my imposter, syndrome run my life and my decisions all it does is cause destruction in its path. I stop being the person I want to be and turn into this self-loathing, negative, lazy person who does nothing but hate people for succeeding in the things that I once wanted to do.
So, what now? What am I supposed to do now knowing all of this? That I don’t have answer for. I’m still trying to figure that out myself along with an actual mental health professional (a.k.a. my therapist). For me I try to be my biggest advocate. I say my affirmations, I try my best, and I don’t shit on myself if I “fail” at something- especially if it was my first time trying.
For a lot of things in my life I try not to focus on the “success” aspect. For writing I focus on my feelings and why I like to write and not so much of the number of views or likes. Those would be great. Don’t get me wrong; however, I don’t write to get the fame. I write because it’s what I like to do and for me its all in good fun. The same goes for whenever I work out. When I have a bad day at the gym or if I just can’t pass my current deadlift PR, I don’t think I had a bad day. I didn’t have a great day, but I can always try again another day and make my goals eventually.
Progress isn’t a straight line, and no one is more deserving of success or happiness more than another. As long as you put in the work, pull others up along with you instead of pushing them down, and be your biggest advocate, the imposter syndrome will push itself down into the deep hole it crawled out of and leave you be.
Imposter syndrome can be hard to get through, but with the right tools it can become manageable. What are ways you deal with imposter syndrome? Is this something you go through too?
Whatever form imposter syndrome manifests itself as, just remember this:
You are capable. You are deserving. You are exactly where you need to be.
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