Pretty much since I came of age, I’ve kind of hated myself. Yeah. One of the specific ways I’ve hated myself, or one of my self-hatred’s manifestations, has been this pervasive feeling that I’ve tricked all my friends and colleagues into thinking that I’m not a totally sh-tty, stupid human being. Every time I’m ‘on’ at a party, every time someone says something about me being smart, every time I write an article that gets good traffic, something inside me won’t let me take credit for it. Instead, I secretly believe that what I did was sh-t, but that I’ve merely conned people into believing what I did wasn’t sh-t. And sooner or later, everyone’s going to find out.
That’s f-cked up, huh? Well, it is what it is. I’m admitting it. But I didn’t know this feeling was a thing, that other people felt it too, until my friend described it to me. She felt the same way, and she’s way more accomplished than me. “Wow!” I said. “You think you’re a total fraud, too?” How ironic — I had always perceived this person as undeniably talented. LOL. Coincidentally, I had been reading a book called Love’s Executioner by a psychotherapist named Irvin D. Yalom at the time, and in the book, he describes accounts with clients in which they ‘admit’ to walking around feeling like they’re continuously tricking everyone around them into liking them. So I googled it, and found this on Wikipedia:
The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments…
Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
The impostor syndrome was once thought to be particularly common among women who are successful in their given careers, but has since been shown to occur for an equal number of men. It is commonly associated with academics and is widely found among graduate students.
So, it’s a thing.
The personal irony here is that finding this Wikipedia entry hasn’t done anything for my own complex; even now, I’m sure that I’m just barely skirting by with this write-up — this article’s employed enough tricks to affect flow, style, mastery, non-stupidity. I’m this close ([_____________________]) to being exposed. Someone will find out I faked my way through this. Somewhere out there, someone knows.
So, fellow imposters. Not to worry? There are way more frauds out there than you expected? Who, by the way — they know. They all know. There have been group email chains about how they all know. Someone in the email chain has even been tracking all the times you’ve been a fraud — they wrote them down in a list in a shared Google document and they’re all looking at it now and laughing with each other about it. Everyone is onto you, phony. We’re on to you. And we’re going to have an intervention soon, one where we all shame you for being a fraud. A big. fat. fraud.