Monday, September 29, 2014

The Imposter Syndrome & Self-Doubt: A Response to Rookie's "You Can't Fake Real"

Image Credit: benralexander via Pixabay
Hi there! As a blogger, I read tons and tons of blog posts. I might not comment on as many as I should, but I do read a lot of them. Maybe if you aren’t a blogger, you do too, and can relate to this, as well.

When I saw You Can't Fake Real from Rookie in my Bloglovin’ feed, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I thought that the post would be more about something like high school girls being fake and how we should all be ourselves or something like that, but never did I expect to relate so much to a post. Ever. This is a big thing to say, but I’m pretty sure this has become my favourite article ever on the internet.

The first few lines of this huge article talks about how the writer, the lovely Brodie Lancaster, has had a great deal of success so far in her life, but everything’s not all sunshine and rainbows for her. No, she was never struck with any kind of dramatic tragedy that would put this into the sob story category, but rather had a little habit called the Imposter Syndrome. From the article itself, she tells us that it’s “a certain kind of self-doubt that convinces you you’re not deserving of your success – that you bluffed your way into it and you’re not worth.”

After reading that, I realised that there was a name to that annoying thing that has become second nature to me that I’ve been doing for as long as I can remember. I work really hard whenever something is thrown my way, and sometimes, I’ll go out there, make projects for myself (like this blog for example) and I’ll work my little butt off to make the best that I’m capable of. Same goes for school and all the other little or big things I have to take care of in my life.

Specifically in school for the most part, I’m rewarded for my efforts with good grades, but whenever someone even begins to compliment me on anything like that, before the compliment has even left their mouth, I would’ve already formulated my little spiel about how I really don’t deserve it or something that will trivialise the accuracy of my grades and delivered it with a shaky laugh. Or maybe I’ll make some piece of art and if it happens to look good and someone points it out, I’ll say, “Oh, haha, it’s not that great…”

You know what I’ve realised? Human beings, we’re not the nicest people. We’re cruel and the things we do to each other is cruel and the way we treat each other is cruel. High school kids and teenagers are a whole other category altogether. While you might be lucky enough to stumble upon a group of the loveliest kids, and even if you happen to be thrown into a group of lovely people, you probably don’t know each other well enough for them to pass out compliments for no reason at all. Besides if it were a fake one, you’d probably be able to see right through it. So when compliments on one’s work are so rare to come by in such an environment, why the hell was I doubting its sincerity and exactitude?

Often times, I felt as if I didn’t deserve it, that despite all the work I put into it, I wasn’t deserving of a compliment. That it was a fluke and that I just lucked out. It’s strange, isn’t it? But flukes don’t recur when the same formula is applied over and over again. I should’ve known that, I should know that.

Another great quote from the article is this one: “It’s hard to accept that something you’ve done has value when you find it hard to see that for yourself, and no amount of awards or recognition can cancel out that internal belief that you don’t deserve any of them.” I don’t have much to say about it besides commend Brodie for how true her words are.

I think that over the past year, I’ve slowed tried to put a damper on that instinctive reaction to any compliment the same way Taylor Swift has grown out of her surprised face (we all know which one I’m talking about), also mentioned in this article and an optimal example of the Imposter Syndrome. But once she retired that infamous face of hers, she’s been thought of as too proud and in a more negative light than “that surprised face is getting old.” I guess you can never really win when it comes to things like this.

But what I’ve realised in light of this article is that it’s okay to say that I’m proud of something and that it’s possible to say that, all while being humble and modest in my thanks and not appear narcissistic. Of course, I can think of a handful of situations from recently that with my sleep deprivation (which is what I’m blaming it on now, apparently), I talked down some of my work, even more than usual after receiving a compliment, and made it seem like those accomplishments of mine were really nothing. Then, I looked back and thought, “What the actual hell was I doing?” It was as if that automatic self-doubt response was ingrained into my brain and became instinct for my mouth and the habit that was somehow pushed into overdrive for those few moments, didn’t wear off as quickly as my mindset has changed.

Words are a tricky thing and compliments are a tricky thing, but if you’re struggling with the Imposter Syndrome, the first step is to be proud of your work. In this case, maybe the phrase “if you can’t love yourself, nobody will” might not totally be accurate, but is rather the opposite. If you worked your butt off and sweated hard to accomplish something, anything, and someone compliments you, give them a smile and instead of shrugging it off with words beating down your efforts, tell them “thank you.”

Do you suffer from the Imposter Syndrome? How do you go about combating that? What are you proud of? Leave your comments and share your stories below! I'd be more than happy to read them. :)

Thank you so much for reading!
- J

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