Did I really do that or did I dream it? A question I ask myself often when I reflect on my achievements and the result of my work.
A few weeks ago, I was reading through my old school reports and I’ve always performed above the national average, been on the school council, represented at national sports, played the violin, went to ballet school etc and now as an adult, I’m never satisfied with my achievements. Why is that? Imposter syndrome.
Ok Google, define imposter syndrome:
the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills.
"People suffering from impostor syndrome may be at increased risk of anxiety"
As a child, you achieve something and you’re flooded with praise, love and encouragement. The older you get, the less praise, love and encouragement you receive because you’re no longer doing things to please your parents but you’re doing things to please yourself, right?
When I look back at what I’ve achieved in life thus far, I have to question if the things I did as a child were things I enjoyed or things I was made to enjoy. Whether now, the things I enjoy are truly things I enjoy or things that are tied to my childhood ‘forced enjoyments’ that I haven’t reflected on.
Did I really enjoy learning to play the violin? Or did I enjoy the praise I received from passing my exams?
At 20 years old, I’m numb to my achievements.
People: omg, you’re doing so many amazing things!!!!
Me: meh, it’s nothing.
I’ve lost the buzz that I used to get from achieving my goals and it’s because I don’t feel deserving of my achievements or they feel like an out-of-body experience. I’m present when I’m achieving said things but my mind is detached from the situation and when I’m reminded of the memory, it doesn’t feel like it ever happened, almost like I’m dreaming but with my eyes open.
I’ve gone so long keeping a log of my achievements in my head and a recent conversation with a friend changed that. In order to stop my imposter syndrome and recognise my achievements as things I’ve done because I work hard and deserve it, I need to keep track of said achievements. Not just the big achievements but small achievements too, balance.
Last year, I jumped out of a plane for a charity and raised 3.5k in the process. This sounds amazing, right? I often forget that I even did this and I’ll see a skydiving video while scrolling through social media and think “Ahhh, I want to do that one day” but, you’ve done it, Fran. This is why it’s important to make a note of what you’re doing so that when your mind does ‘forget’, you’ve got someone visual to trigger your memory.
My tips for beating imposter syndrome:
1. Write everything down. As mentioned previously, empty a jar and write down everything you have achieved thus far and place it into the jar. When you’re going through a period of feeling like an imposter, take a note out of your jar and see what you’ve achieved. Being able to visualise your achievements and reading them aloud makes them feel more real.
2. Tell yourself you’re deserving. Other people have told you, you deserve everything you’re getting and you don’t believe them, right? Well, tell yourself. I’m serious. Stop reading this post, lift your head from your screen and find the nearest mirror and repeat after me, I am deserving and not just because I work hard but because I am me and anything I put my mind to, I deserve.
3. Separate your feelings from fact. Sometimes you may feel stupid but you’re not stupid.
4. Learn to fail. Failure doesn’t mean you’re incapable, failure means you need to reassess, try a new route and that’s okay. You failed your Maths module and instead of beating yourself up, thinking this degree is not for you, find out how you can retake or make up the marks in another module. Every successful person has failed, you either let the failure define you or you keep going.
Until next time,