The other day Jack and I were having a deep life conversation over dinner and he said something that made me speechless. Made ME speechless. He said to me “I just wish I had my shit together like you do, you are always so confident in your choices and your ambition. I wish I knew what I wanted in life like you do”. I know what you’re thinking wow that’s so amazing that he sees this in you but what shocked me was that I don’t feel like that all. Shit I mean if you could see the inside of my mind you would want to get out of there ASAP. I am always second guessing myself, doubting my worth and my abilities in love, friendship and work. I constantly feel like I’m juggling 25 balls and trying to keep them in the air but failing miserably. But apparently that’s all just on the inside. On the outside I show someone who’s all of a sudden got it all figured out and is so sure of them choices and my actions all of the time. In reality I’m neither. I’m neither a failure nor a success. Neither strong nor weak. Neither together nor falling apart. You see there are three sides to this there’s my view of myself, there’s others perception of me and then the reality. That really blows my mind because how can I, who spends every second with myself, or my inner circle, who are so close to me, so wrong about who and what I really am.
Something I really struggle with and have done my entire teenage years is Imposters syndrome. If you’ve never heard of imposters syndrome the official definition is:
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.
This is an issue that I have been dealing with a long time especially since I started secondary school so since I was 11/12. In primary school I was always pushed as a gifted and talented child, I was always the kid that represented the school or got introduced to the special visitors because I was confident, chatty and spent a lot of time reading so my knowledge was above expected. I was the house captain as well as the chair of school council because I was always pushed to the top. I had a lot of responsibility pushed onto me from a young age, as a child I never complained though because I was too happy that my mum was proud of me. However in the years to come it really took a toll as I went from being a big fish in a small pond to a teeny tiny fish in a huge scary ocean. Once I left my tiny primary school I landed into a significantly bigger secondary school with the other kids in my area that were the same as me in their primary school and that was when my self esteem started to slip. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t expect to be the best of the best because that’s not what the feelings were, but what I felt was that all along I was a fraud and wasn’t actually as intelligent/confident/funny/good as everyone thought I once was. It was that I was deceiving my friends and family because I now wasn’t going to reach the expectations that had been put onto me before hand.
Fast forward through the start of my teens and I found myself two loves: music and a boy. Music was something which I found a passion for as I could dedicate my time to it and see my progress over the time I had dedicated to it. The boy I met through music and he once again made me feel like I was actually what I wanted to be and not just pretending. He saw the potential and the ambition I had to succeed. However towards the end of that season of life that relationship fell apart and I felt like I wasn’t the person I had tried so hard to be. That was my first heartbreak and it effected me so badly because it once again made me not feel good enough. I felt like deep down I wasn’t truly who he thought I was or who I wanted him to see, I felt ashamed that I had tried to mould to somebody else’s standards. One thing that I have found is that my self esteem issues and insecurities have never come from my looks as that is something I don’t find important but from my person. It comes from my personality, my intellectual ability and my morals. So anything that makes me question them things sends me into a downward spiral.
Then move into exam seasons of GCSE and A Level when mental and emotional well being was in ruins and I didn’t get the grades that I thought everyone expected from me it really kicked in. The idea that I’d let people down because I wasn’t actually as intelligent as originally thought. I felt so defined by and bound to these grades that I felt so awful about myself. I wasn’t going to university like my family had ‘planned’ for me to and I just had no idea where I was headed next. Amazingly enough I found the course I am currently doing and applied for it, I was more than qualified and determined to get in and that passion once again drove me. It’s fair to say I found my calling and once again I was in my element. I was top of my class and I was the student that made the most effort because I had been through so much to get there. I knew that this was a job I wanted to succeed in so I worked my arse off at college and at placement which lead me to getting a job at the nursery. That was a time in my life where there was no shadow of doubt looming over it because I knew I belonged and that I was good at my job.
However as quickly as that all started it ended and nursery shut down, the job I was good at and the place where I had worked so hard for was gone. The doubt came back, it was too good to be true so there’s no guarantee that I will enjoy or be as good at another place. I once again felt like a fraud, like my success will always be short lived and I will go back to being a sob story. I had one candlelight of hope though, the idea that I had genuinely been good at this job because the staff were genuinely impressed with me. I had the hope that it wasn’t just people blinded by their love of me seeing my ability it was people who had took me on as a student and wanted to hire me properly. Then came the slaughter of self confidence which is finding a new job, I applied for a job that I didn’t feel I had a chance at getting. Weeks later I got an email saying I got an interview, I didn’t get my hopes up because well I looked good on paper but that wasn’t really me right? So I went to the interview which was a practical section and a sit down talk, I felt like I had fallen at the first hurdle. However not even a week later I got a call and I got the job, it was great I was so happy. Until I got into bed that night and told myself all the reasons why I got it due to not my own merit.
This behaviour has been norm for me for a long time and I hate it, it makes me constantly feel like I will never be good enough and that I’m always handed things but people never see it. See I don’t mind feeling that way about myself but I hate that I feel like I’m deceiving people. I hate that people think I’m hard working and intelligent when really I feel like things are being handed to me on a fucking plate. Now the reality is that it’s neither of them things. It’s neither me deceiving people nor me being handed everything. It is just me trying to get by and the Lord working in mysterious ways. It’s about my path being my path regardless of how I get there and a mentality I want to break out of.
Now let’s take it back to the beginning of this post about how Jack told me I had my shit together. It broke down just a part of this imposters syndrome I’ve been experiencing because he isn’t deceived nor disillusioned but he sees the curveballs being thrown at me and how I can take them. He’s seeing the good and the bad and he’s seeing me as a person. Not how I see myself as a machine which needs to work constantly and perfectly to have people be proud of me. You see I might be fighting hard for some people’s approval and I don’t even realise it’s already there. I’m fighting an internal battle which gets bigger and bigger in my head which is already been won in the real world. What I wanted to say from this post is that people will never perceive you in the way you do yourself and vice versa, but they can see the real you more than you think. Your actions and efforts show much more strength, intelligence, and hard work than the actual outcome and that’s what people see. That’s what you should see. So whenever your mind tells you that you don’t really deserve this recognition because you didn’t really make the outcome happen fight back and say no I did earn this success because I have made the effort and been humble enough to say no maybe it wasn’t all me but all the events leading up to it have been so I think I played a pretty big part in it all.