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The Imposter

a confession and a self-realization years in the making

By Alexandria StanwyckPublished 9 days ago 4 min read
Top Story - June 2024
22
The Imposter
Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

May 21, 2024 - from my notes app

I noticed something as I read the comments on my most recent Top Story. It is easier to type a "thank you" in response to all the wonderful comments, especially when you want to say "you don't believe it." A can of worms those words are, one most people would be more interested in burying deep into the ground. The thing about that is the worms can always make their way to the surface. So here it is.

I think I have imposter syndrome.

***

Imposter syndrome is the condition of feeling anxious and not experiencing success internally, despite being high-performing in external, objective ways. This condition often results in people feeling like "a fraud" or "a phony" and doubting their abilities. - BetterUp's "What is imposter syndrome? Definition, symptoms, and overcoming it"

***

By Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

I was one of the overachieving gifted kids all throughout public school, sometimes working myself ragged to make excellent grades. My parents never expected me to have straight A's all the time; they only asked for my very best in school (C's and higher). By the time I graduated high school, I was ranked one of the top ten in my class with multiple scholastic achievements under my belt. Despite my high achievements, there are times I recall feeling like a fraud, more so in high school when the teachers constantly reminded us how important our grades were to get into a good college. But then it was merely a whisper, a passing moment so quick, it was easy to ignore it when it happened.

There were times after I graduated I would hear the whisper, but it wasn't until recently that whisper became more comparable to a scream.

I think it was easier to think I didn't have a problem with imposter syndrome for a long time. At first, I chalked up certain thoughts to being humble, and that may have been understandable when it came to accomplishments in areas where I didn't know much. But now, after some research and a hard look at myself, I accepted I struggled with self-confidence in my accomplishments.

By jose pena on Unsplash

BetterUp's article on imposter syndrome became an eye-opener for me. As I read through it, they mentioned some causes for imposter syndrome with examples for each one: family environment, social pressures, sense of belonging, and personality. In my family, I never felt they were over critical when it came to school, but I do remember teachers would joke about me be 2 points away from a 100 sometimes. They would assure me they were joking and they would truly be proud of me, and I believed them. I still do, but maybe subconsciously I didn't. I was part of the group of high-achievers in school and I was (and still) am the type to internalize negative feelings.

Then there were the list of common characteristics and I matched up with most of them except for sabotaging self-success. But attributing success to external factors was the first one that struck me the most. Again, this goes back to me thinking it was a sign of humility when really it was a sign I doubted myself.

Burnout was the second one to hit close to home, especially since I've admitted to falling victim to gifted kid burnout. My previous history with burnout is also one big reason I decided to not make writing a full time career; I have a history for pushing myself too hard and even more so when I'm passionate about something. Writing is my creative outlet and I never wanted to risk losing my joy in it by making it a career. It doesn't mean I haven't been close before, but I could easily excuse myself for taking longer or taking breaks if I was close to the edge.

Another part of BetterUp's article explained there are different types of imposter syndrome, although many would find themselves fitting into multiple types. I completely agreed once I went through the descriptions for the ones listed. There were times I felt like everything had to be perfect in order to truly be proud of an accomplishment (The Perfectionist) and I would be quick to notice if they weren't (The Noticer).

By Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

To say reading this and realize how much this related to me was...overwhelming. I had to take a step away to further think about things, one of the biggest is how to deal with this when those voices in my head keep saying that I don't deserve to enjoy my successes all the time. Thankfully, the article not only showed you why to identify imposter syndrome, but ways to deal with it when it comes up.

It also helped me understand that while I may not have the best self-worth when it comes to certain aspects of my life, it also addressed that "close minded, cut-throat, or biased work environments can certainly exasperate the issue. Thankfully, leaving my previous job where I was overworked and fell victim to the nastiness of working with the public has greatly improved my confidence in myself. But, with this recent bout of imposter syndrome, I know I have a ways to go.

I will say this, however, more for myself. Even after years of working on my self-worth, I cannot expect to completely eliminate the imposter syndrome. If they come up occasionally, it doesn't mean I failed. But, in the future, I hope it will be reduced to a mere whisper like before.

copingCONTENT WARNING
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About the Creator

Alexandria Stanwyck

My inner child screams joyfully as I fall back in love with writing.

I am on social media! (Discord, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.)

instead of therapy poetry and lyrics collection is available on Amazon.

Reader insights

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Top insights

  1. Compelling and original writing

    Creative use of language & vocab

  2. Excellent storytelling

    Original narrative & well developed characters

  3. Eye opening

    Niche topic & fresh perspectives

  1. Heartfelt and relatable

    The story invoked strong personal emotions

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Comments (12)

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  • Fion 2 days ago

    I relate to your story a whole lot. Thank you for writing this piece!

  • I have suffered from imposter syndrome, and it still hits at times but many friends and supporters have helped me get over this. Great story

  • Awesome work! Love this read. Keep up he good work. When you get a chance please check out my work let me know your thoughts.

  • angela hepworth8 days ago

    This was such a compelling read, Alex — I sympathize with you. Burnout is so natural and to be expected of most if not all talented, high performing people. It’s also the result of all the stress we put on ourselves and that others may have put on us as well. As for imposter syndrome, it truly is a killer. I don’t suffer from it (I moreso fluctuate from overconfident narcissism to deep, crippling insecurity 😂) but I totally get how much it must suck. It’s so hard to quiet that voice in your head, but actively keeping it in check is sure to help. Awesome writing and congrats on TS!

  • Congrats on your top story.

  • Novel Allen8 days ago

    Kudos on the enlightening words.

  • shanmuga priya8 days ago

    Congratulations 🎉

  • Congrats on the Top Story! I used to have a horrible case of imposter syndrome. I stopped looking at others and focused more on myself and my own path. It took a long time but I'm (mostly) fine now. So, keep it up! You'll get through it :)

  • Cathy holmes8 days ago

    Great article, and somewhat relatable. Congrats on the TS

  • Rachel Robbins9 days ago

    Oh the perils of being a high-achieving child. I relate to so much of this. And am still working on avoiding comparison and just being in the moment. Hope you keep finding the fun in writing.

  • Andrea Corwin 9 days ago

    You have written a nice piece. I used to doubt that I knew enough, but others at work then pointed out all that I did know, turning my mind around! I think it sometimes is when we are comparing ourselves to others - they have such and such as a background, etc. but really we got where we are with brains and hard work. Keep on writing for your joy!

  • I relate to your story . I think a lot of people experience the same perplexing life accomplishments. You are real. A good technique is to finally say," Wow! Finally I can be me and I can do this

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