Hey, sweet things!
In a very middle-school-English-class manner, let’s start this discussion with a definition.
The Oxford Dictionary defines “Imposter Syndrome” as:
“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.”
I’ve felt this sentiment often throughout my life, and I know that many others have too.
I’ve seen a couple of people who I know talk about this concept on social media recently, and it made me want to share my experience. So many of us feel the same way, and we need to talk about it.
I have always struggled with figuring out how to put my identity into a box.
Human beings aren’t categorizable, at least not easily. In certain aspects, I come from identities of privilege. I come from a socioeconomically middle-class family with two parents who are still together, I am straight, I identify with the gender that I was assigned at birth, I am a native speaker of English, I am an American citizen, and I am White passing. In other areas of my life, I come from communities that are marginalized. I am a woman, I am biracial (Hispanic and Asian), I have a mental illness, I have a #MeToo story, and I am plus-sized.
In some senses, I know what it’s like to face challenges because of who I am and the situations that I have been put into that are out of my control. However, I also know that I have a lot of privilege in my identity and life. Sometimes, I have a hard time feeling like I am acting accordingly to my intersectional identity because I know both privilege and marginalization well.
Sometimes I feel like I’m not worthy of success or opportunities if they weren’t a struggle in every single way that they could’ve been.
Something that I am working on within myself lately is comparing myself to others less. I struggle with that a lot. I am a perfectionist, and I expect a lot out of myself. I feel the need to be as “good” as other people are, and I feel inadequate at times.
Sometimes I feel like I don’t deserve to get things that I achieve because I know that other people may have had a harder journey to the same destination as me. Conversely, some people may have had an easier journey than mine.
I do know what it’s like to struggle, so my brain’s reaction is to feel guilt when I don’t have to.
I get really happy when I’m successful, don’t get me wrong. But I also feel guilty because I know that I am capable of what I am capable of because I have support. I have the most amazing set of parents who immigrated to this country and work really hard every day to stand by me. I know that I have had opportunities because of the good public schools that I have attended.
I find myself feeling like the struggle that I have experienced gets erased by the ways in which I could have struggled and haven’t. I like to think that I’m “woke,” and I think that we all should strive towards being “woke,” but a challenge that comes along with that is not erasing the struggle that is not the “most” or “worst” in the world. There are other women who are more marginalized than I am, but that doesn’t mean that the difficulties that I have faced as a woman are invalid because they aren’t the most extreme.
Having privilege in one aspect doesn’t erase the marginalization in another. Coming from a supportive family doesn’t erase that I often get the short end of the stick because I am a woman, or that I have been treated like absolute dirt because of my size, or that I carry a #MeToo story with me. My brain goes through this constant teeter-tottering whenever I try to analyze my identity and apply its consequences to my experiences.
I’m learning how to take situations for what they are in reality.
Just because I have privilege doesn’t mean that I haven’t struggled or haven’t worked hard for what I have. On days when I don’t feel the imposter syndrome, I know this profoundly. I know that my work ethic is really solid. I also am working on accepting that I won’t always be productive or as productive as I think I will be. I’m learning to accept that this doesn’t make me lazy or bad. When I mess up, I have to realistically own my actions and decisions and decide how to proceed from there.
I don’t have the solution to this issue, but I’m actively searching for one.
There are the good days and the bad days, but I am working on reminding myself both that I am hardworking and resilient through difficult circumstances, as well as privileged to have the support and blessings that I do. This is all a lot to balance, and I know that many of us juggle these thoughts within ourselves. But here is what I hope you can take away from this post.
This is what you need yo know if you deal with imposter syndrome.
All three of these statements apply to me, and they apply to you too.
With so much love,