Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Imposter Syndrome

Authenticity
Cartoon by Michael Lipsey

I was intrigued when my nephew Jerrod posted the definition of imposter syndrome: "the inability to internalize your accomplishments; the persistent fear of being exposed as a 'fraud.'"

Jerrod concluded: "I'm sure I have this; I've always said I've lucked into everything in my life."

And I had to concur: "Interesting and worrisome concept. A little voice inside my head likes to tell me that anything I've ever done (being a teacher, a writer, a parent, a daughter, etc.) has been substandard. Why is that? Now I know!"

Wikipedia says that the term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists, but I'm thinking back to 1977, when Marilyn French wrote The Women's Room and I felt in my gut the terrible truth of Kyla's oral exam:
" 'I really failed. . . . That's the truth. . . . They said I passed. . . . But I really failed. . . . They demoralized me, they had that kind of power, I gave them that kind of power. . . . I can't feel legitimate . . . ' " (563 - 564).
Sure sounds like "imposter syndrome" to me! I suppose it has been around forever and that we all (well, maybe not all?) suffer the side effects from time to time. Time to upgrade that self - image! But how?

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Here's one helpful tip.
Should you ever start to feel this way, don't!
Please remember: untrue!
That's just the anxiety talking.

Instead, remember this message that
my nephew Hans sent awhile back
These are the true words!
I keep them in my saved file
and re-read whenever necessary:

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Thanks again to Michael Lipsey, Jerrod Rosenbluth,
and Hans Carriker for sharing these insights!

***********************

P.S.
The Anxiety Lying to Me?
or Hey, has anybody seen my Self - Confidence?

I often brood about the perceived valuelessness of my role -- berating myself for not generating revenue, for lacking ambition, for giving up the struggle to do both the career and the kids. Yes, I was so lucky to be at home with my flexible schedule and my piano, my books, and my e-mail, my grocery store just around the corner and my kids across the street in their little brick school house. My family can live without my practicing my profession, and so can I, though at times I do feel rather useless and non-contributory, and non-revenue-generating. Still, it's hard not to love such a great life.

Even so, I sometimes fear that being respected around here is indeed tied to working for money. These days, working for love doesn't really count (if it ever did) as anything more than some kind of peculiar self - indulgent hobby. Of course, that may be just a distorted misreading on my part: you know, the ache of modernism, the quandary of the new millennium, the price of feminism, not to mention a surefire way of punishing myself in my head for never working hard enough, never being good enough. After all, the theme of my fundamentalist protestant upbringing was: "You should be ashamed of yourself, young lady." So is it any surprise that I am, even now at age 60? Pathetic, I know, but true.

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