It started coming to the forefront of my mind several weeks ago when fellow blogger Captain Sweatpants asked a question about the Awesomeness of Women in this post.
He asked: Why is it that women don’t ever admit that they’re awesome? Do you actually know you’re awesome but just don’t want to verbalise it? Or (this is worse) you don’t even realise you pure awesomeness?
My inner voice told me, "Yeah, you're awesome. You do all this great stuff, multi-task with the best of them, have a great career, a wonderful family...."
And literally that's when this tiny whisper of another inner voice started to speak. I couldn't hear her very well at first, but she reminded me that I hadn't been living in this happy state for very long, and it could come crashing down on me at any moment, and it would be all my fault.
Truthfully, that second inner voice, who I know know as my Impostor voice, has always been there, whispering all along. You can't even finish high school, let alone graduate college. What kind of parent are you to let your child escape the house and almost run out into the road?
In response to Captains question, I tried mightily to prove that I am awesome, and I know how awesome I am with this post. My own challenge the day before was to have fellow lady bloggers talk about their accomplishments, career, personal or otherwise. It didn't matter. Say something about how wonderful you really are. The three responses that I got amounted to saying that it was a difficult task, and never went any further.
In my work, I am constantly afraid that someone will somehow figure out that I feel like an impostor in my chosen field. That they will challenge the validity of my choices, and that they will want a 'real funeral director' to come and take over.
Then when the Impostor Voice goes from a whisper to a being heard clearly, it runs through me like some sort of rabid infection, telling me that I am not a good enough mother, wife, sister, auntie or friend. She reminds me of my failed marriage, and incompetence of being a provider, communicator, lover, nurturer, and teacher. Her oily voice changes and takes on toxic qualities that make me doubt my relationships with everyone I know, pressing me to stay home, alone and quiet, lest the world find out about the real me and that I am not a good person. Oddly enough, at that point her voice sounds just like my mother's.
I have been dealing with it for awhile, beating that voice into submission, when something else pops up. Lousy sales of my home made candles. A problem with communication at work. An article that Gail wrote that "People have all kinds of reasons and excuses for not saving money. And then there are the people who act like they’re saving, only to end up tapping those savings to cover their butts. "
Later in the article, she wrote, "Hey, if you aren’t saving, regardless of what your excuse may be, you’re an idiot." And cue the toxic voice again. Just like that. Reminding me of my failures, and that I can blow through a $1000 emergency fund in 12 seconds that took me 12 months to build.
Some tidbits about this syndrome:
The impostor syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.
Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
"Others deal through extraordinary effort, working harder than everyone else while secretly convinced that if they were really smart, they wouldn't have to work so hard."
"People who feel like imposters often have high, unrealistic expectations of themselves, perfectionist issues, and the conviction that they shouldn't be struggling at all.
Tomorrow: Ways to deal with this syndrome, other than letting it have free reign over your life.