Lessons in Adulting: Imposter Syndrome


When you’re a baby, no one shames you for not speaking English. Or any language besides cooing and burbling. {Actually no one should shame anyone for not speaking English, but that’s neither here not there! Heck you, xenophobes!🤚🏾🚫} So why is it that once you you pass through the invisible doorway to presumed adulthood, are we suddenly expected to know everything!?

It’s like I’m reviewing a book in a genre I’ve never read. Like I’m writing an instruction manual for a device I’ve never used, seen, built or even heard of. I’m a first-time adult.🤷🏾‍♀️🙃

[Rod Serling, writer and host of Twilight Zone voice] Enter into evidence the phenomenon know as ✌🏾imposter syndrome✌🏾

According the great and reputable peer-reviewed source know as Wikipedia, imposter syndrome is defined as:

Not to be confused with Capgras delusion which seems far more prohibitive and problematic.

I’ve been battling with I.S. in waves for the last 8ish years. Here’s my theory!

Roze’s I.S. theory:

1. Well meaning parents haphazardly program their children with fixed mindset ideals (ie. “Look how well you did. It’s so easy for you. You barely study. You’re naturally bright!”) and reward innate talent disproportionately 👩🏾🧔🏾👩🏾‍🎓

2. External value is attributed to success (ie. Honor roll, deans list, trophies and certificates) and intrinsic value is not deliberately cultivated 🏅🏆📓🔖

3. Difficult to navigate workforce rewards inflated resumes and applications (ie. Entry level pay and position requiring years of experience and certifications)

4. Supervisory practices support less dynamic and diverse workplace of antiquity (ie. supervision doesn’t survey strengths or accommodate learning styles)

5. No immediate access to HR, EAP, or mental health resources within workplace structure (ie. report/address supervisor, mitigate stresses influencing productivity, feel comfortable taking time away) 👩🏾‍⚕️ 🛋✍🏾

I’ve theorized that a wealth of factors contribute to the phenomenon of I.S. For me, I find that my I.S. is triggered in comprehensive projects with deadlines, multiple changing factors, and no clear rubric; also known as wicked problems.

In the nonprofit and academia spheres, we are inundated with wicked problems: poverty, healthcare, education etc. The stress from attempting to address these problems can reek havoc on the rest of our lives.

In an I.S. spiral I tend to think back to the many mistakes I’ve made in my burgeoning professionalism and forget to count the many more wins I’ve been privileged to have.

I’m stricken with a pain in my stomach and my thoughts race while Im possessed with the idea that I’ll be found out. I am a dummy, I have performed as promised, and I don’t deserve this job.

At any moment my director will come flying through the door; simultaneously ripping it off its hinges and banshee-screaming that I’m fired. 🚪🏇🏾🤺🐉 That’s insane. My director is a nice lady who can hardly run much less fly.

Why do I feel this way? What can I do? When should I quit?

I feel this way because it’s my first. My immediate family’s first college grad. One of my first full time quasi-traditional jobs. I’m being asked questions about retirement, paying for my own benefits, and considering, for the first time, to pinpoint what I’ll be doing in five years. I feel this way because there’s a lot riding on this and on me. Because I’m officially in charge of my life, but I want nothing more than to step down and politely decline.

Check out Cendino’s photography here!

What I can do is my best. I can pick out each day and it’s 1000 objectives and truly (not fakely) give each one whatever “my best” looks like for that day. That way I can watch Netflix, and work out, and spend the rest of my time authentically engaged without the lingering guilt and self-applied pressure that is my spiraling workweek HELL!🔥👹 I deserve to be genuinely present and invested in this one life I get.

More tangibly, I’ve recently started an achievement journal. Today’s Shine Text calls it a “brag book”, where I periodically list all the things I’ve accomplished in a day and marvel at how gifted and Beyoncé-like I am!

When should I quit? Tomorrow. I can quit tomorrow. It’s always an option. Always on the table. But today I’ll try. I’ll stay late if I have to. I will rack my brain, ask for help, go for a walk if I have to. It may be tough today, but I can always quit tomorrow.

Check out this quick read from a helpful source.

I love a good mantra 🙏🏾🕯📿🧘🏾‍♀️. Try this on for size if you’re battling some serious Imposter Syndrome! Repeat to yourself in the midst of a panic, or use it to start your day.

“I am not an imposter. I am more than qualified. I will work to prove it to myself. I deserve the rewards I have been blessed with!”

Go forth into your workweek and prosper 🖖🏾, even when your to-do list has been fruitful and multiplying. You’re not an imposter. Do your job. LIVE YOUR LIFE.

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Roze Goes

When Roze first went in 2012,  it was kind of like a journal ... that other people could read. Embarassing. But I'm realizing that my voice, my experiences, my representation and narrative are valuable. There's room enough for me too. My talents and interests. My time is now. Roze

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