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 Lawson, aka The Bloggess, aka Wonder Woman

So, I’m a huge fan of Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess.  If you don’t know about her, I cannot recommend strongly enough that you read her book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened.

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.


Seriously, how can there not be an image of somebody jumping onto a piano and I had to make my own?

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.


Don’t kill me for using the meme outside it’s intended purposes

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.


Most people don’t know that Trey and Matt used me as their model for this character


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”?


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Posted on September 6, 2013, in Modern Life Support and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I’ll admit, I do find myself comparing my self to others way too much. I tend to get down on myself when I feel something I should have accomplished didn’t get accomplished, but yet I fail to see how much I have done otherwise. I’m sure you’re in the same boat. Good write up buddy.

  2. Q: How often do you find yourself comparing your life to others?

    To be succinct: ALL.THE.TIME.

    Strangely enough, not so much in the food industry where I can rationalize that I live amongst rednecks who only like meat and potatoes, so anything fancy I would cook would be over their heads anyway [hear that… that’s the sound of hundred of potential customers running away because I offended their palates].

    From a gaming perspective, I feel inferior almost constantly: Maybe it’s because a chef is like a square peg in a round hole when it comes to gaming: an industry dominated by graphic artists, mathemeticians, {edit: people who can *spell” mathematicians], MBAs, and engineers. Maybe it’s the catch-22 situation that you want to game with people smarter than you to make you better, and then you realize that “Holy S**T, these people are A LOT smarter than me!” and dwell on it.

    I wish I could tell you that blogging is 100% cathartic, but that’s kinda a lie. If anything, disable the “Stats” part of your page. Barring that, make a dollar jar you have to pay into every time you check it more than once a day. For me, it’s a source of madness. I first started G&G again and I saw our average was {X}, so my goal was to get {X} to be over some arbitrarily assigned line on a graph. We did that.. then {X} needed to be {X+25}, then {X+50} then {X+100} … and when that was accomplished, I started wondering what kind of traffic the other blogs I was following were getting and how I could get more than them. If it’s not that, it’s why certain people are getting their articles RT’d by aggregate sites or why people are reading article (A) on our site rather than article (B) because B is much better written.

    I’m certainly not Jenny Lawson, but my advice would be this: it’s all about QUALITATIVE rather than QUANTITATIVE. While easier said than done, stop focusing on “how many friends do I have,” or “how many hits do I get on my blog?” and instead focus on things like
    – Do the friends I have care about me? Would they do anything for me?
    – Are the things I’m producing up to my standards? (or, better yet, will the intended audience of your effort get some enjoyment out of the product?)

    I’m just now getting to the point were I can say “yes” about these things. I love doing Q&A interviews for the site and I’m looking forward to some of the reviews we have coming out in the next few weeks. In your case, I hope you consider people like Me, Tiffany, and Aaron to be a “yes” answer to the first question; considering I click on the links to your page whenever they come up in my WordPress reader, the answer to #2 seems to be a “yes” as well. Keep your head up and remember that you’ve always go sounding boards and listening ears if the blog thing isn’t cathartic enough.


  3. I’m torn about something… because I tend to keep my Facebook posts positive. I do that on purpose. It’s not to pretend my life is perfect. Not at all. I just don’t know how (or why) to post about the chronic pain of fibromyalgia I deal with every day. Or how I spent last Saturday taking photos of my friends family at a picnic, because her mom is dying of cancer and they wanted photos. How I cried the whole way home from that photo shoot. I won’t be posting pics from that one on Facebook (although they are really lovely and made the family happy.) I don’t post about how I haven’t been to the pool or how I drink 4 glasses of wine every night. Not to hide anything, it just seems… irrelevant.

    And anything photography related has me so excited, I always post that stuff. Not to brag, just to share the excitement. I don’t know… this post has me thinking… In a good way.

    In the end, I guess I want to say to anyone comparing themselves to anyone in life (not just on Facebook): don’t assume anyone has it easy. Even those 5% body fat 5K runner people with seemingly perfect lives, don’t assume they have perfect lives. In fact, assume that they have insecurities, flaws, and that they might have a mom with cancer, or a drinking problem, or some painful secret that you’d never know about.

  4. I try not to whine about my life. I know I have it very good compared to millions of people. It was just something about what Jenny described that connected with how I feel kind of on a day to day basis. I don’t feel sorry for myself or pity myself, but I do feel like I’m just faking it in life. That most everybody else is actually legitimately happy with how they are. And I don’t disparage those people in any way. I will come punch you if you stop posting pictures of the dogs, Jennifer.

    I dunno. I just can identify with the concept of imposter syndrome and not feeling like I’m doing “things” right.

  5. thank god we found the bloggess.

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