Modern Life Support: Imposter Syndrome
Hey! So, yeah! That big burst of blog energy I had post-GenCon has died down a bit. Mostly due to some family stuff, and being a member of a wedding party for some upcoming nuptials. I’ve got a couple topics/games I had considered writing about, but haven’t had the spark to write about them yet. Until now.
WARNING: This post has practically nothing to do with games. Consider yourself warned.
Jenny goes through life struggles, like most people do, but she has an amazing wit and inner strength to be almost completely open and honest about those struggles on her blog and in her book. In a recent post, Is it just me?, she asked her readers for an honest assessment about herself with respect to whether or not she was good at life. She writes,
I realize that I’ve accomplished a lot in life and deep-down I know that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I only have a few days a month where I actually felt like I was good at life. I know I’m a good person (as in “not evil or intentionally arsonistic”), but I’m not very good at being a person.
That quote above struck a chord with me. I feel like that too. Like a lot of the time. She goes on to describe it further by saying,
Part of this is me. I have depression and anxiety and a number of personality disorders that make it hard for me to see myself correctly. Part of it is that I judge myself by the shiny, pretty people I see at Parent-Teacher meetings, or on Facebook, or on Pintrest who seem to totally have their shit together and never have unwashed hair.
So, if that first quote struck a chord, then this one, and the remainder of the paragraph (I don’t want to just block quote the whole damn post) were akin to somebody smashing down a whole bunch of keys. As I’ve mentioned in the past, I struggle with depression and anxiety. And I, too, judge myself rather harshly. You can ask many of my friends, and some unfortunate acquaintances, how much harsher I judge myself when I’ve gone way beyond buzzed and into full on drunk stage. I have this habit of drunk texting people, and almost immediately apologizing for it, and denigrating myself to them. Ok, one last quote, I swear.
I feel successful 3-4 days a month. The other days I feel like I’m barely accomplishing the minimum, or that I’m a loser. I have imposter syndrome so even when I get compliments they are difficult to take and I just feel like I’m a bigger fraud than before.
First quote: chord, second quote: bunch of keys, third quote: flying elbow onto the piano.
Back to the drunk self-flagellation. Taking this new-to-me concept of imposter syndrome into account, I think I’m doing it in some attempt to get more compliments in the hopes that I’ll actually start to believe some of them.
I, like Jenny, don’t feel like I’m a “bad” person. But I have to sympathize with her that I highly doubt my ability to be “good at life” and feel very much like I’m an imposter, faking my way through life. I’m not completely delusional or anything. I realize I’m a fully functioning adult who has a stable job, owns a car, and keeps a roof over his head. I have a strong network of friends and people who care about me. But I still don’t feel like I’m doing any of things well, necessarily.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and claim that I do everything awesomely and I just don’t recognize it. I do a lot of things poorly. But I also know that I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy comparing myself to others, and the vast majority of the time, seeing myself as significantly inferior compared to them. Facebook is the absolute worst for me when it comes to comparing myself to others. So much being shared about so many exciting things in peoples lives. And all of them feeling so much better than anything I’ve accomplished. Kids, marriages, health and fitness. Just success after success.
And all that comparing and judging of myself leads me to just sit like a lump. Literally. Like a big ole human bean bag chair or something. I feel like it’s not worth making an effort to get things better, because I feel so far behind everybody else. You know, that unwritten social milestone chart? The one that says you have to be married, and have kids, and own a home by your early thirties. And you should have less than 2% body fat and run 5k’s every weekend and marathons. Not an obese single man nearing 40 who lives in an apartment full of board games who hasn’t been in a long term relationship.
I don’t really know where I’m going with all of this. Again, I’m just spewing out words into this WordPress editor. I guess I mainly wanted to share what Jenny wrote, add some of my personal connections to the topic and try throwing some discussion questions out there and see if anybody wants to share their thoughts.
How often do you find yourself comparing your life to others? What is your reaction to it? What kinds of things do you tell yourself if you start to doubt that you’re living “right”?