Fuck Imposter Syndrome.

I remember when I started teaching. I was teaching English to groups of kids from all over Europe. An entirely new class almost every week- and me.

Here’s a feeling most of you know: it was months before I slept on a Sunday night. The rest of the week was more or less okay. Fridays I’d sleep like a(n exhausted) baby. But Sundays? Nope. Barely a wink. Staying up all night worrying about the next morning. Who would my students be? What would they think of me? Was I sure I had my class planned out okay? What if I was wrong? What if my students were terrible? What if I was terrible? What if they hated me? What if I got everything wrong?

You could point out that none of this fretting helped one bit. That a well-rested teacher is far better able to handle the unexpected than an exhausted one. That it wasn’t a reflection on my character if the kids were Awful. Or even that the vast majority of the kids I worked with were Lovely and I almost always loved the time I spent in that classroom.

You could point all of that out, and it wouldn’t change a thing. I heard it dozens of times. And despite the fact that I somehow managed to put fun, engaging classes together for my teens every day, I was convinced that I hadn’t a clue what I was doing.

Here’s the thing about imposter syndrome: it’s not about you.

Imposter syndrome is all about making everything about other people. Your boss. Your students, clients, or coworkers. You constantly worry about all of these people judging you.

And when you do that, you forget about yourself. You forget about what you want. You forget why you’re there. Continue reading “Fuck Imposter Syndrome.”

Fuck Imposter Syndrome.

Sports and the Death of Impostor Syndrome

Here’s something I love about the whole doing-sports thing I’ve gotten into lately: it completely wrecks your impostor syndrome.

Like most mortals out there, I suffer from a sometimes-paralysing sense that, unlike everyone else in the world, I’m just making it all up as I go along, flying by the seat of my pants, and someday someone’s gonna find out I’ve been faking it all this time. If you told me that everyone reading this blog is in fact my mother, logged in from a shedload of different locations, and maybe some people who just showed up to laugh at my terrible writing? A little part of my brain would believe you. Sounds legit, like.

I’m no expert (not even pretending to be) but it seems to me like impostor syndrome is fed by two big things: the fact that you can’t hear the uncertainties in everyone else’s head, and the way that the validation we get for most of the things we do is so fuzzy. Take here: I know some people read this. I know how many people read it. I haven’t a clue what the vast majority of you actually think of it, ’cause we don’t live in a world where people grade every article they read on the internet.

Sports are different. There are skills I can do (most of the time, at least) today that I couldn’t do a month ago. I know that I can do those things, because I try and do them and don’t fall on my ass. Or I try and do them and only fall on my ass half the time. At the gym, I know I can pick up heavier things than I used to be able to pick up, because when I go to pick them up, they actually leave the floor. I can skate eleven more laps in 5 minutes than I could this time last year, and I know that ’cause I skate as fast as I can for 5 minutes and count my damn laps.

It’s real, concrete, physical skills, and physics doesn’t lie. I can’t tell myself I’m faking those abilities, ’cause I know I don’t have a hidden mechanical exoskeleton or a cunningly disguised extra system of weights and levers helping me along.

And that’s a really nice thing. I’m not sure how much it translates to everything else- if after a while, your brain gets used to the idea of actually being able to do the things you can do, and quits worrying about whether everyone’ll find out you’re faking the stuff you aren’t faking at all. But it’s still nice.

Sports and the Death of Impostor Syndrome