Hello readers, I hope you are well.
I haven’t been in the past few days, to be honest.
I’ve been grappling with self-doubt again. It’s irritating. It seems to kick in when I have lots of positive things happening. Up until now, I’m had smaller things to be positive about. Since I’ve started writing again, things have been changing quickly and I find myself with something positive to celebrate more days than not.
I was discussing developing a cool creative project with some people I met online. The project is something I’ve wanted to do for a little while and would be an awesome experience. I’m awed by how the stars aligned to have me in a position to even consider taking on something like this. I was feeling happy and excited about the idea when I had a very sobering thought.
Back to the Books
I have to go back to the day job in August.
School resumes and I have to go back. On top of that, I’ll be student-teaching this semester. It’s a big assignment already but if student teaching is more stressful than the past six months of school have been, I’m screwed. I’ve already talked about when I had to change my medications just to get back to functional earlier this year. The additional responsibility of student teaching might destroy what good creative energy I have cultivated over the past few months.
That being said, when school resumes, I won’t have as much time for my creative work. I won’t have time for the things that make me the happiest. I have to go back and complete my obligations to a profession that I was only ever lukewarm about. I’ll have little time for daydreaming, planning blog content, or even deciding on what I could do for self-care.
The job is that demanding.
I’m worried that I could lose the forward momentum I’ve gained in my life. Personally, this summer has been full of rest and growth. Heading back to the job means that I’ll be too drained to keep being the creative that I was meant to be.
My blogging is going well. I’ve made lots of new online connections. My creative work is getting published in literary magazines. My book is available for presale on Amazon! All of these things are amazing and wonderful and I’m incredibly grateful for all of the positive opportunities that have been given to me.
At the same time, I feel terrible about them.
I keep thinking that I don’t deserve any of these good things. I believe that all of the things I create are about as good as hot garbage in the summer. I think that people don’t like my work or me. As if all the work I’ve been doing will ultimately amount to nothing. Life will happen and I will be back to square one, having gained nothing but heartache for my efforts. A regular reminder that I do not deserve this happiness that I keep aching for.
It makes me want to crawl back into my cave and never stick my head out again.
The feelings I’m describing can be lumped together when describing imposter syndrome. A term that dates back to the 1970s, imposter syndrome describes the feeling of self-doubt, perceived incompetence, and fear of discovery many people can feel in high-performing careers. According to The Recovery Village, some other symptoms can include:
- Feeling like success is impossible
- Feeling incompetent despite demonstrating competency
- Fear of not meeting another person’s expectations
- Feeling like past successes and hard work were only due to luck
- Feeling incapable of performing at the same level every time
- Feeling uncomfortable with receiving praise or congratulations
- Feeling disappointed over current accomplishments
- Feeling doubtful of successes
- Feeling constant pressure to achieve or be better than before
- Feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed from feelings of inadequacy
My current round of imposter syndrome was triggered by my thought of returning to work. That much is obvious. I feel very inadequate at my job even though I know otherwise. I’m highly capable and knowledgeable. I get along well with my co-workers and the students love me. By all accounts, I should have no issues. However, logic has no legs to stand on when it’s anxiety time.
My anxiety about going back to work has drained a lot of my creative energy over the last few days. Writing this blog post is taking a lot. At the same time, I don’t want to stop writing again. The last time I decided to take a break, years went by before I went back to it. During that separation from my primary creative outlet, I was an emotional wreck. I was a shell of a human, merely going through the motions of everyday life.
I don’t think many people realize how badly I was doing at the time. I’ve learned how to mimic feeling and behaving like I’m in decent spirits over the years. My happy and productive mask can be quite good when I need it to be. I fulfilled my obligations but didn’t give anyone any reason to be concerned. Not many people knew how badly I was hurting.
I never want to go back to that place. I don’t want anyone to live like that. People should be able to live happily without being plagued by their minds about being a charlatan. Especially, when you know it isn’t true.
Imposter syndrome comes around regularly for me. As I said before, anytime things are going well. The stark reminder on the calendar of the end of my free time served as the perfect catalyst for my anxiety to go off the rails. I could do what my brain wants and stop writing again. It would be easy to shut down my blog, stop promoting my book, and go quietly back into my cave. I’ve done it before, and I can do it again.
The difference this time is that I don’t want to.
I know when my mind is on BS. I can see it and feel it when it happens. Now, I can counteract a lot of the negative messages with more positive ones. I’ve taken the time to learn better coping skills. I know that I shouldn’t hide away when I start feeling bad. There are people that I can trust to be careful with me and my feelings. There is a plan in place when I start to turn that corner towards a negative episode.
This works for me but there are other avenues people can take if imposter syndrome is something you struggle with. I’ve already spoken about how meditation and refocusing your thoughts can turn your day around. Venting to a trusted person is valuable as well. In more severe cases, talk therapy would be a good way to start going in a better direction.
Another useful strategy is to set small goals. Easy, attainable things that you can’t convince yourself that you are a fraud for attaining. Did you shower today? Awesome, gold star! Did you get to work on time? Fantastic! Gold star! It may seem silly but small confidence bumps can build up into big confidence boosts.
Also, stop comparing your progress to others. You can’t measure yourself against someone who hasn’t lived your life. There may be similarities, but no one has lived through your struggles, battles, and victories except you. Step back and recognize the good that you are doing. Take a social media break and be your own cheerleader.
I’m working on taking my own advice. I have this big, anxiety-inducing thing coming up but I’m trying to take the rest of my break one day at a time. I shouldn’t waste the time I have left worrying about something in the future. Maybe all my concern will be for nothing. Perhaps things will go amazingly, and the time will fly past. It’s a possibility and I need to hold onto that hope. It’s all we have at times.
Do you struggle with imposter syndrome? Have you felt like a fraud in your daily life? Are you taking steps to move past your anxieties? Let me know what works for you and what doesn’t in the comments. We can tackle this thing together!
Take care! I love you! We can do this!