Sunshine recently learned the word imposter. Saint Daddy and I taught it to her when she refused to let us dispatch a house fly in case it was her friend Frukie, a fly that may or may not be on one of her shows. Saint Daddy told her that the fly in the house was merely an imposter.
Someone pretending to be something they are not.
I have read that 70% of people will experience Imposter Syndrome at some point in their lives. The incidence of the phenomenon is more likely to occur in high-achieving women and in conjunction with recognized mental disorders like anxiety and depression.
Imposter Syndrome is a staple in my life. It underlies my professional experiences. I often fear that one day I will show up for work and will be asked to leave as soon as I get there. I fear that at some point someone will realize I am not qualified, I am not capable, and I do not belong there. I have considered moving my degrees to my workplace in case I need evidence of my qualifications, but I have worried that the paperwork may be seen as forgeries.
I worry that this will happen and I will live the remainder of my life unemployed, embarrassed, and without means of recovery.
My professional role is just one aspect of my imposterism. It is one I can confront quickly. I go to work, no one tells me to leave, I continue with my day, and the thought is pushed aside.
The prevailing and more painful source of my imposterism occurs in my personal life.
I remember my wedding day. I was there. Obviously. I had spent a year planning the day, largely driven by what Mom wanted. I was not speaking my truth as much then. I wore a beautiful white dress and walked down the aisle to the man who was my foundation. The man who kept my heart afloat so many times. And when I reached the end of that aisle, I vowed to choose him every single day for the rest of my life. And he, wonderful man that he is, vowed to do the same for me.
How could I forget?
But sometimes, my imposterism is not so sure if that happened or if it meant what I thought it meant. Where is that piece of paper? Maybe I should carry that around too.
Imposter Syndrome is part of my friendships. It tells me I am not valuable, not loveable, unimportant. I worry that I somehow tricked my friends into believing that I am worthwhile, and that one day, they will realize my duplicity and walk away. More than that, I worry that they already know that there is nothing inherently valuable within me and that their kindness is first and foremost a joke at my expense.
I can feel my imposterism in motherhood as well.
There are times when I am holding a crying Sleepy and whispering soothing words into his ear when I think to myself, “Yes, this is exactly what a mother should do.”
I have looked back on pictures of my pregnancies and my children at even younger ages as proof that I made them and brought them this far. What if it is all very Truman Show and I have been tricked into believing these truths? Poor Truman was the ultimate imposter…
I had a similar thought while I was helping Sunshine with her bucket filling assignment today. I helped her cut out pictures and talked with her about what she saw in each picture. Then she explained to me whether the picture depicted bucket filling or bucket dipping (kind or unkind behavior). She then glued the pictures to the sheet inside the proper bucket (happy or sad).
As we talked, I thought, “Wow! I’m being a mom right now. Like a real mom. I’m not even pretending.”
I realized, as soon as I thought it, that I was clarifying for myself that I am not actually an imposter.
My Imposter Syndrome asks me to be the absolute best at everything I put my mind to. The absolute best friend, wife, mother. More often than not, it calls upon me to put certain aspects of my life ahead of other more important aspects. I occasionally have a hard time prioritizing correctly because I need to be everything simultaneously, and I need to do all of those things at award-winning levels.
My imposterism needs constant acknowledgment and encouragement. I struggle to validate myself. I want to be something to people, and I crave reassurance.
Imposter Syndrome tells people who deal with it that their accomplishments are a work of luck or even deception, even when there is evidence to the contrary.
My life is not based on luck or deception. I have worked hard to get where I am. I have forged a life with Saint Daddy based on love, trust, and commitment. We have created a home filled with joy and three beautiful children. I feel lucky to have my life, but I know it does not exist purely through luck. I have wonderful friends whom I can count upon in my darkest times and who laugh with me when occasions warrant mirth.
However, I know that I will constantly be plagued by my imposterism. It comes with my anxiety. During times when I am on the brink, there comes Imposter Syndrome to drive my brain to places it should not go, telling me that I am not what I have thought all along.
If you feel like an imposter sometimes, know it is a lie. You are real and valuable. You have accomplished much and you deserve pride in what you have done.
As for me, I am going to keep reminding myself that I am not living a charade. I am living a life of joy and hope. It is a wonderful life, and I am so happy that it is mine.