We've been watching you, and we have evidence that you have NO IDEA WHAT YOU'RE DOING. You stand accused of the crime of completely winging it, you are guilty of making shit up as you go along, you do not actually deserve your job, we are taking everything away and we are TELLING EVERYBODY. --Amanda Palmer
Several years ago, I read a book about asking for what you want. Several things resonated with me about the book (being your true self, asking for what you need, trusting being a default position) but what she said about imposter syndrome just kind of glanced over me at the time.
With the current situation at work, I’m finding that my feelings of being a fraud are coming to the surface again. I can admit that I’m a lot of things, but internally I always feel like that teenager whose father told her she was fat, ugly, lazy, stupid and would never be able to hold down a job.
You’d think I’d have gotten over it by now, but some things stick at a subconscious level. Like never feeling quite competent.
My boss tells me I am very unlikely to end up without a job. Her boss tells me the same thing. Other people in the department tell me. I have 27 annual reviews that say amazing things about me. Do I believe any of them? Nope. Not really.
I feel like I’ve somehow managed to fake them all out. For over 27 years. If I have true talent for anything, apparently it’s being an imposter.
What set me off? We’re having a reorg at work. It happens every several years. My team is being eliminated in order to create a new team which will support all 371 of our applications. A huge idea. It’s not the way applications are typically supported. It will be insanely difficult at best and a crash and burn at worst.
The woman who is tasked with the project of wrangling all of the teams into providing input and coming up with a project plan asked if she could pick my brain about my team’s current work in the next few weeks. My mouth said something about being happy to help, but my guts said “why does she want to talk to YOU?”
My logical brain said that of course she wants to talk to me. I wrote a good chunk of the documentation used by my team. I was one of the first people to join the team when it was formed. I am a big contributor to everything about the team. Why wouldn’t she want to talk to me? I know what I’m talking about because I was instrumental in creating “it” in the first place.
My guts think I am a fraud who has finally been discovered. All of the people who have ever given me jobs I’m not remotely qualified for that I kicked ass at have been wrong. I’ve been faking them out all along.
So I not only feel like a fraud, but that it’s my fault this is all happening. If I wasn’t such an imposter, maybe my whole team would be safe now.
It’s both wildly, fantastically egotistical of me to think I have that much influence over what happens in the department and wildly insecure of me to think that I am as utterly lacking in competence as my inner voice thinks I am.
Are there things I could do better? Absolutely. There always are, and I learn all the time. But I’ve also learned from years of working with people that I am better at a lot of things than most people. (Is it egotistical if it’s true?)
So this last few months, or really the last year, has been the perfect storm of reinforcing every one of my worst inner beliefs about myself. Since I’m not sure how to fight against it, or if I even should fight it. I’m trying to just let it flow over me and keep doing the best I can until my inner voice just shuts up about everything.
Maybe fighting it just gives it energy. Just letting go will let it..go.
Side note to those who are wondering if I will ever quit whining and do anything about it.I already am “doing something about it”. Career counselor appointments made, general counseling appointments made, using every last bit of medical care I can while I know I still have insurance, updating professional certifications, seeing friends etc etc etc. My resume is up to date, but I’m not quite ready to fling it out there yet.
On a more practical note, I have several provisional plans in mind in case I do become unemployed or get a big pay cut. I’ve cut expenses back and can live on about half what I was making before if I have to. I can get a roommate if I need to. If I get two roommates, that will cover my mortgage completely. Or, I can sell my house and buy a small condo with the equity if I need to. Hell, I can sell my house and buy a house in Lincoln and mooch drinks and dinners off of Brenda. She’d even take me to some football games. Or I could even rent out my house and move in with Ma and Little L. Or rent out my house and go to Costa Rica and live in an AirBnB until my severance and vacation time run out.
There are a LOT of options. I just need to pay my mortgage, buy food and get medical care. It’s unfortunate that I can’t take medical care for granted in an allegedly civilized country, but that’s a political topic I don’t care to dive into at the moment.
Oh, and I probably won’t quit whining about this or anything else any time soon. Once they let us know what our fate is at work I will quit whining. Maybe.
Or I’ll whine about something else.
As ever, even when I am being bashed around there are silver linings. Hanging out with Paddy again. Getting beautiful new eyelashes from Shayla. Thinking about when I should have the next Cap’n Crunch Brunch.
There are still clouds and tree parts I haven’t photographed yet, and Spring is almost here.
Relationships and work may try to put me into limbo, but it can’t last forever. I’m fairly certain I will weather the temporary storms.
Even if I am an imposter.