Imposter, fake, fraud...oh my!
I've been having some dreams the last few months...the interpretation is pretty obvious. But it's that I'm hiding from PLU (my graduate school) because I have a failed test and missing assignments and they want me to redo the class because I haven't actually graduated. [Insert creepy horror movie ax killer noises] When I wake up from this cursed dream I feel super anxious and it all feels so real.
Imposter syndrome. It is a real thing. We can experience it in careers, our relationships...anything that we care about being successful or good at. (Google image search for win)
In our world of comparison culture we all feel like everyone around us magically has it figured out, while pitifully you are drowning in learning how to adult.
I read another post from a therapist I follow on the 'gram recently about thinking about imposter syndrome as an internalized social justice issues. Which really got me thinking...about trauma and imposter syndrome thoughts.
I believe trauma experiences can (*almost) always categorized as the following negative cognitions: ¹) I'm not good enough, ²) It's my fault, ³) This/they/life is unsafe. Imposter syndrome feels pretty much like the I'm not good enough thought in action.
As with any intrusive trauma memory or negative cognition the counter to this emotionally reactive thought is to balance the fact/probability with the fleeting emotion. Emotion is not fact. Emotion is not logic. The next time I wake up feeling dread the David (my graduate program director) will be calling me to say the last 9 years was based on a lie, I will do what I ask of my clients, put that thought and the subsequent emotiom on a leaf and watch it float by.
Humans are funny creatures. We strive to be great and successful, then feel shame about being arrogant or lacking humility and tell ourselves we don't really know what we are doing...or is that just me ;) I encourage you all to acknowledge your own moments of feeling like a fraud, watch it float by and then embrace the truths of what those around you speak about you.
Oh and I promise I did graduate with all passing grades and completed work, I have references too =)