I’m a pretty fucking lucky little princess. I have health, wealth and I laugh loud and often with good friends. Fights and disagreements are almost always swift and help me to evolve. I am well fed, well loved, and (usually) well groomed.
I should be the happiest fat little pampered pussy cat on the planet.
Yet, somehow, I always feel like it is all going to end any moment. Worse perhaps, I want to run screaming into the hills away from this idyllic life, career and family.
There’s a genuine psychological affliction called imposters syndrome. I’ve taken the liberty of diagnosing myself with it.
There’s a good summary of imposters syndrome on Wikipedia, but I prefer the CalTech Website information, which you may expand upon by clicking, or is summed up with:
Impostor syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.
You know what is really interesting about imposter syndrome? Women are extremely over-represented as suffering with it.
This pisses me off.
So why can’t we all just be proud of our achievements, no matter how great or small? Why can’t we feel so confident in our skills and talents that our efficacy overflows and infects those around us with greatness?!?!
No matter how many times I hear positive things (and admittedly, I almost ALWAYS dig for any compliment I receive because I am very needy) I never believe that I have earned, or deserve any of the great stuff I am privy to.
I had an amazing marriage counsellor a few years ago, his name was Richard. He saved my marriage when it was in very real danger of dissolving. I’ll always remember one conversation with him about my intense and almost indulgent self-loathing. The fact I feel grossly inadequate and generally like a fake or an intruder in the amazing social and professional circles I am lucky enough to frequent, means I need to assuage my middle-class guilt constantly. The only thing that truly fills up my empty is doing shit for other people. True story! Like small things or large. Smiling at strangers or moving heaven and earth to help someone or get behind a cause I feel is worthy. Richard pondered this for a while. A few weeks in fact. And he came back to me with this:
“Dee, I’m not meant, in my professional capacity to encourage people to be actively self loathing… but, if it is the fuel that feeds all the good shit that you do, then have at it.” or something very close to that at any rate.
There’s a down side to all of this needing to help people shit of course. Phteven wanted me to mention that people walk all over me; like, a lot. Sometimes my efforts to help are more of a hinderance. Sometimes people hurt me because I am a very visible and easy target. But when something good works, and when I find something useful to do that seems to help, my self hatred abates for long enough that I can think straight and keep carrying on with my crazy, busy, wonderful, life…
So now, I am sitting in the Koru Lounge, having finished a few reviews, written some overdue copy, talked to dozens of friends on several social media platforms, bought some noise cancelling headphones, and pondered how unbelievably lucky I am to be jetting off for a whirlwind adventure in Europe and the USA connecting with other Green Tech and EV enthusiasts.
I do not have any chance of understanding how I ended up with this life when most people struggle. I will NEVER feel like I’ve earned any of it, and I will spend every day of my life trying to assuage the guilt and insecurity I feel because this is the life I lead.
I will, however, relish every amazing moment and grab every chance to enjoy and experience life with both fucking hands!
And maybe, just maybe, I can figure out how to STOP feeling like everyone in the whole world knows that I am just a loud, awkward, selfish, crazy, needy, over-the-top TRAIN WRECK! If I am successful I promise I’ll share all my learnings, and help to encourage other women who I know are suffering from terrible imposters syndrome to overcome it as well.
I look at the people I know and see so much that I admire, and Love about them. People who have their priorities right. People who seem to walk the talk on sustainability and kindness so much more than I do. People who never utter a bad word about anyone and bring so much joy and comfort to those lucky enough to know them. And, I also know that many of these people who I so greatly admire, suffer from the same self-doubt as I do. Especially the women.
So, if you’ve taken the time to read this, thank you. And if you are one of the people I speak of with imposters syndrome… STOP IT! You are amazing and WONDERFUL and POWERFUL and GREAT!
I wish I could hug all the self doubt right out of you… but I am just boarding my plane.