Digital Journal Entry

by Ryan Zurrin

Imposter Syndrome

thinking you just don't belong

Feeling Like a Fake

I’m always struggling with trying to fit in and trying to please and trying to try I’m always trying something but that something always seems to be missing something. What is this nagging feeling biting at my heels every day? It’s here making me feel less then or not equal too, I feel like I don’t belong anyplace at all. Despite being a model student and getting great grades and being active in the groups and clubs on campus and having lots of good friends around me, I still always feel like I am doing something wrong or like I shouldn’t be there or worse of all that at any minute my awful past was going to somehow disqualify me from having any kind of good future. Am I justified in feeling like this? I mean I did have a sketchy past that landed me in prison for 3 years. I did use drugs at one time, so doesn’t that mean I shouldn’t be able to succeed now?

I’ve heard in the past and in many variations that the person we often find hardest to forgive, is usually ourselves. This is, I am learning the first step in moving forward and growing; having the ability to forgive oneself for the mistakes that one has made. It has taken me some time to realize that as long as I am not repeating the same mistakes and as long as I had learned something from the mistakes then they were not really mistakes but lessons learned. Let me add that I have had to learn many lessons the hard way, it always seemed to take me a little extra to learn anything back then. I wish I could of knew then what I know now, everything would be different. Don’t we all pretty much say that.

There is some pretty good research and testimonials out there on the web dealing with this exact topic and issue.” Feeling like a big fake” is no fun and I guess I am no where close to being alone in feeling this way. Having the resources available has made tackling this issue for me much easier and more bearable. It has giving me the knowledge needed to see my own behaviors and faults and shed light on ways to manage these feeling and make real the facts that EVERYONE is worthy of success and a second chance at life. Including me, and with the world wide web as my witness this is my second chance now. But what about these feelings what are they and why do I feel them?

According to “imposter syndrome is a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.”

This brief definition does a decent job of summing up these complicated feeling so many of us struggle with. As well, within the same site there is a nice short article by Megan Della-Camina titled ‘The Reality of Imposter Syndrome’. She writes about how this syndrome is more known about within woman circles and groups but that studies have shown that it effects both men and woman about equally.( Dalla-Camina,2018) Which to me reinforces the idea that woman are more open about feelings and emotions and are more likely to talk about these things with each other than the more ridged and masculine approach that men usually take on life. But speaking from a neutral position I think it affects even the rarest of alien races just as well.

All jokes aside, this can be a debilitating feeling at times, which for me becomes so intense that I just want to curl up into a ball and hide from the world, so I don’t have to face the facts. What are the facts though? In my mind they are things like; I did so many bad things I don’t disserve this, I am not smart enough to learn all this or I could barely understand the algebra how am I going to learn programming? I’m just a Hack with a dream and nothing more, Ill never fit in with the developers and programmers I look up too, It must be a fluke that I got this far even, this has got to be some kind of cosmic joke or something, any minute the magic carpet is going to be ripped out form underneath me and I’m going to be right back where I belong in the gutters going nowhere.

But of course, this stuff isn’t true at all, these are the lies I tell myself in order to try and justify a later self-sabotage. I always sabotage my own successes and wins in life which I know now was just a way to control the situation by using lack of control as an excuse to manipulate my own thinking into thinking it was the only way to deal with things when really If I just took myself out of that loop and down a different path a whole new array of options would open up and be available. New choices to what seemed like a stale old me, what really needed to change wasn’t the choices, it was me. And that’s what I am doing, and in so doing inadvertently filled up my head with inadequacies. Trying to learn a new technical craft at my age with very little technical experience has really showed me how little I know.

Because someone doesn’t necessarily know something doesn’t mean that the capacity to know it isn’t there. When we want something, we will usually find a way to make it happen, it’s just that the process takes time and energy. While I was learning to paint houses one of my Bosses once said even if you don’t know something pretend you do and keep practicing and one day it won’t be pretend. He said Everyone has been there its what he called the “fake it till you make it position.” Point being, we are all beginners at one point, we all must go through the process of acquiring skills and knowledge. And the early stages are tough on people, I know I am always filled with the fear that I am not learning fast enough, that everyone is so much more advanced then myself how will I ever catch up? With hard work and determination, I hope. As well I just want to add that I do not condone lying about one’s skills to an employer just to get a job. I do not want the “fake it until you make it” analogy to be an excuse to lie or pretend in a professional setting. It was simply meant to show how we all must be beginners with a bit of fear before we can become masters with a bit of wisdom.

On the American Psychological Association website, I found a great newsletter from November 2017, called “Overcoming imposter syndrome” by Andrea Robonson, PhD. And right in this article under ways to fight feeling like an imposter is the “fake it ‘til you make it”. Dr Robonson goes on to say “Sometimes faking it is okay. If you don’t feel confident, pretend you do; by imitating confidence, competence and an optimistic mindset, you can realize those qualities in your real life.” Other techniques mentioned in this great newsletter are things like; Look at the evidence or celebrate your successes and remember, lots of people feel this way and my favorite one of all, we are told to “Stay Humble.” (Robonson, 2017)

I want to leave you with a brief video about the subject which helps to clarify what it is exactly and how we can start combating these nagging feeling that fill our thoughts today, the sooner we talk about how we are feeling the faster we can begin the journey to wholeness. And with that I leave you with this;

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