The following is a guest post submitted to me anonymously. I’m not sure a piece of writing could better turn inside-out the brain of somebody who suffers from “the impostor syndrome.” It’s raw and real, humorous and heartfelt. And, to the best of my knowledge, was produced in one sitting — non-stop fingers, veins open and flowing.
Enough of my blather. Enjoy, and please comment below with your thoughts…Can you relate?
Thoughts of a self-diagnosed impostor…
I don’t remember the last time I thought, “I definitely belong here.” What does that feel like? Are there people who don’t walk around feeling like impostors? Any time someone compliments me or tells me I’m the girl for the job, I always think, “Man, I am really pulling this off.” Jokes on you! I am not actually a dependable, hardworking, driven or even normal person. This is all an act! And you FELL FOR IT! Ha!
And it IS all an act. Because I just want to be in my bed watching Gilmore Girls and eating a bowl of Annie’s Cocoa Bunnies (but let’s be honest, even that’s an act because I really just want Lucky Charms). I hate small talk, but I’ll make it with you. I don’t give a fuck what the weather is like or how lazy you think your husband is, but I’ll still compare stories. I’ll find something to complain about, or I’ll sit there smugly and think, “my husband actually does all of the shit you wish your husband did.” But, I’ll smile and nod my head, to make you feel understood. I don’t know where my arms should be or my hands for that matter. Is it okay to rest my chin in my palm? Probably not. Make them think you’re on. Make them think you belong here. Make them think you’re capable of doing what they want you to do. You want me to organize papers? I will organize the shit out of those papers. I will paperclip and label every stack. I don’t want you to know that I’m secretly not this organized. I’m a fucking mess, but maybe if my handwriting is neat on these post-it notes, you’ll think I have my shit together. Maybe if I don’t seem bummed that I can’t eat lunch with the only person I slightly identify with in this building, you will think I’m a grown up. Maybe if I shrug it off like it’s not a big deal everyone will think it’s pretty cool that I don’t need to eat lunch with people to know that I have friends.
Adults are easy to trick, but every one of these kids knows I’m a joke. I’m 28, but I went to this middle school and they make me feel old. Sit up in your seat; take your head off the table and focus! This shit is important and it will be on the test and you’re not listening, did you hear what she said? Write it down. I’ll pretend that I did that stuff when I was in 8th grade. I’ll pretend I don’t want to put my head on the desk, too. You didn’t do your assignment? You had all week to do it. All you had to do was write a quote on one side and a BS paragraph on the other and your fucking name. I could do that shit in 5 minutes. But, I still sympathize because when I was in 8th grade I ignored the simplest of assignments. I wasn’t in learning support, but maybe I should’ve been. You didn’t hear me say that. I have a college degree. And, YES, this job is legitimate. The teachers need me. Could they survive without me? Probably. Yes, they totally could. But, let’s not focus on that, let’s focus on the fact that I’m here and you have to pretend that I’m relevant.
Time to pick Claire up. Why does the teacher seem so uncomfortable when I hug and kiss my child? I missed her. She came out of my fucking body and she’s the best person in the world, the teacher should know that she just spent all day with her. She’s so young; she’s really pretty, I wonder if my husband has noticed she’s pretty? She doesn’t understand what it’s like to have kids. I missed this kid! But, now I have to pretend to be a serious parent who doesn’t spend 99% of her time making funny faces at her. I have to pretend Claire picked up her weird quirks from someone else. “She’s a weirdo, not sure where she got that from.” And, YES, I send her snacks in. And, YES, I know you provide them. Sorry, I don’t want my kid eating garbage, and YES I do think goldfish qualify as garbage. I have to ask the important questions so she thinks I’m an attentive parent (I AM, but you have to act a certain way for others to believe you really are). Get the fuck out of there so you can ask your kid what her teacher is really like when parents aren’t around. You’re relieved to hear that she’s nice. You still think about how she’s pretty and young. Men like girls who seem innocent and naïve, I fucking like it. I see myself in that girl; I remember thinking parents were crazy when I wasn’t one.
Go home. Is this really my house? It looks like an adult’s house. I am not an adult, but I’m glad my house passes off as adult. I mean, not on a normal day because there are dishes in the sink and who even knows the last time the kitchen table was wiped down? But, my mom is coming over and the curtains she suggested look nice and I just bought some new cloth napkins, so I am totally pulling off this adult charade, even if all I want to do is ask my niece for my copy of The Sims back. I only gave it to her because my husband looked at me weird when I played it; funny since he plays every fantasy sport available. But, have to pretend to be perfect for him, too. I have to be girly in my looks, but not in my personality. Like, I cannot watch BS reality TV, and I should wear makeup, but not cake it on. I should dress nicely, but not be high maintenance. It’s a good thing a few years of marriage makes you care less about that shit. Yes, I’m playing Pokemon Go, it’s too late we’re already married. Yes, I like the Bachelor. I don’t think these people are good people and I don’t want to be one of them, but it’s fun to watch it. I’ll make sure if you’re around I’ll make it seem like I’m watching it ironically.
I’ll wake up tomorrow and do all of this shit all over again. I’ll walk in with my water bottle that I bought to make people think I drink a lot of it. I’ll have my lunch that doesn’t include any saturated fats. I won’t make any pop culture references, because I don’t want you to think I’m trying too hard, even though your story TOTALLY reminded me of the episode of The Office where Kevin can only do math if it involves counting pies. What if you didn’t watch The Office? What if no one laughs? I’ll just keep that one in my head. And, YES, it is weird that a lot of the people walking around this building were my teachers, because they know this is an act. They were there when I wasn’t trying to hide any of this stuff. They may blow my cover. Or, they’ll think, “she was a mess in 7th grade, but I’m glad she pulled it together.” But, I have to try harder around them. Am I thinking about this too hard? They probably don’t even remember this hot mess. Maybe if I say something grown up they’ll realize I’m an adult now. “Mortgages, insurance policies, adult stuff.” There, now they know I’m a grown up.