Let’s talk impostors today. No, I’m not talking about the Impostors on the game Among Us. I want to talk instead about the phenomenon that is Impostor Syndrome.
First of all, we need to know what Impostor Syndrome actually is. The short version is that Impostor Syndrome is the belief that your abilities are not good enough to the point where you think others will expose you as some kind of fraud. While this mainly affects women, this can affect men as well.
This is a real thing. It impacts people’s jobs, lives, and perceptions of themselves. Success is attributed to luck rather than abilities. You feel like you’re seen to know more than you actually do.
I know all of this because I have many of these thoughts. There have been may days where I do not feel qualified to be a teacher, despite the degree and job that tells me otherwise. I often feel that I only got the job because I student taught in the district. I was in the right place at the right time, and they gave it to me.
Let me keep going before you say anything to comfort me or try to help. Just because these thoughts plague my head does not mean they are the only things I think about when it comes to my job. I think about other stuff too.
This post is not meant to talk about the shortcomings of Impostor Syndrome. Believe me, we’d be here all day if it were. This post is instead meant to highlight some truths that I have learned in relation to Impostor Syndrome.
Truth #1: Very few people’s opinions ACTUALLY matter. I have spent far too much of my life trying to please other people. At the end of the day, none of those opinions mattered. My opinion of myself matters. My boss’s opinion of me matters because they’re the ones who determine whether I still have a job. And right now, they clearly think I’m competent because there hasn’t been any talk of letting me go. I would hope I would know by March if they want to keep me or not.
Truth #2: You clearly have that job for a reason. There are days when I’m teaching that I realize wow, yes, I am actually capable. I can provide lots of historical information to my students that I can just tell them from the top of my head. I have so much history knowledge that I literally can tell you a little bit about everything
Truth #3: The right people will notice and appreciate what you do. My students like me. My principals notice the effort I put in. At the end of the day, that’s what matters.
I still deal with this. I can’t always control the thoughts in my head. But one of the ways I try to combat this is to be as genuine with everyone as much as possible. This includes my students, my family, or my friends. If I am more real, it makes me feel like I maybe actually do know what I’m doing.
Another way I combat this is to never stop learning. By continuing to increase my knowledge any way I can, I know that I truly am doing better, and am actually less of an impostor than I feel. It doesn’t work all the time, but it definitely works more than just accepting the Impostor Syndrome.
It can be easy to fall in the trap of not feeling good enough, and it can be much harder to get out of that trap. But it’s up to you to figure that out for yourself. Just because you may have Impostor Syndrome does not mean you are a hypocrite. You are actually qualified for the position you’re in. You’re better than you think, and the right people will notice and appreciate it. That’s what matters.
I started this post with an Among Us reference, so it only seems right to end with one too. You’re not the impostor aboard the ship. You’re not out to sabotage the mission or kill your crewmates. You’re doing your job and hoping for the best result. And that’s important. Work to learn and improve. Be able to recognize these feelings when you experience them, and know that they are not the only part of you!