Imposter Syndrome

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Wiki describes Imposter Syndrome like this:

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

“Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting 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.”

Impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achievers, but it is said that 70% of us will experience it at some point in our lives, so it is more common than first thought. It is true though that those who are more brilliant tend to suffer from it more extremely.

I can only speak for myself, but imposter syndrome is something I have encountered at every step of my life. In every job I have ever had I have never been able to shake the feeling that they are going to rumble me, and that I will be fired for not being good enough. That one day someone will request a meeting with me and say “You shouldn’t be here.” Every time that I receive praise on how well I am doing I smile awkwardly and try to give them an excuse as to why I “appear” to be doing so well.

When I first started my therapy practice it plagued me more than ever. I was convinced that one day a client would look across at me and say, “Who the hell do you think you are, trying to help me with my problems? You are a liar and you are going to jail for being a fraud!”

That was my honest thought on the subject. I seriously believed that I was going to get into trouble for setting up my business, despite being fully qualified, and achieving high results on all my studies, because I felt like a total fraud. It is a feeling that I still haven’t quite shifted to this day, but one that I manage a lot better.

If we take my therapy practice for an example (I even have trouble typing the words and calling it that because a little voice in the back of my head says “it’s not really though is it? It’s not a real one is it so you can’t call it that.”) I actually found that my attitude was starting to sabotage sessions. It was minute, almost imperceptible little things, but I noticed. My lack of confidence in myself was communicating to certain clients, who I could see starting to shift in sessions, no doubt unconsciously picking up on this and implanting that doubt in their own minds. I realised that if I wasn’t careful and didn’t deal with this issue, I could turn my irrational thought into a truth. I wouldn’t be good enough to do my job, and it wouldn’t be through lack of knowledge or training, or not being able to do the job well, but it would be through letting my own mental processes interfere with the work that I was supposed to be doing. I had to do something about it, but what is there to do?

I began trying to talk to myself and motivate myself before sessions. I began “rehearsing” sessions with a non-existent client. I re-read study materials (that I knew like the back of my hand) and did old exercises from modules. I even sometimes would ask a client to close their eyes to do an exercise because their inability to watch me doing what I was doing helped me relax. I began going to any little course, seminar etc to make myself feel as though I was doing something, reigniting and maintaining my frame of mind. It helped, and little by little I didn’t need to do quite so much to feel more at ease. I still go on courses and to seminars etc as I feel that really helps to keep my mind keyed in to what I am doing and boosts my confidence.

I am really good at what I do, and always have been. It was only my own mind I had to prove that to.

I know that it won’t be the last time I encounter this problem, and I know that I am not the only one who does. I think thoughts like these can rot away at the base of your brain, undermining everything you do and ruining your chance to be happier and perhaps to excel. I know I have been afraid in the past of trying something, of pushing myself, because I thought I would fail because I wasn’t good enough. But through trying different things I have found ways that help me, and if more of us spoke about these things, maybe they wouldn’t knaw away at us, and maybe more people could feel happier.

 

The Unexpected Benefit of Unemployement

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On Monday I started a new job.

It was a relief after spending 7 1/2 weeks unemployed. I still can’t afford to pay the bills that have piled up angrily through my letterbox, but I will soon.

I hadn’t planned on being unemployed, it was sprung upon me last minute, and unfortunately unemployment isn’t something I handle very well.

I spent my first few days in my new  house waking early, getting coffee and sitting at the laptop full of productivity and enthusiasm for job hunting and getting things done that I hadn’t had time for whilst working. 7 days later I was heading out to Berlin and spent six days chilling out, and simply enjoying existing. It was wonderful and I didn’t want to go home. A few days after getting back home I suffered 9 days of excruciating toothache, and I mean bad. It was pain the likes of which I have never felt which reduced me to a whimpering crying wreck. Needless to say that during this time I got absolutely nothing done other than laying on the couch trying to distract myself with Netflix and feeling incredibly sorry for myself. Then I was off to Lollapolooza in Berlin, and despite experiencing some pain the first night and day, I was relatively pain free for the rest of my time there and able to enjoy myself.

Once back home again the crushing reality of the nothingness ahead started to creep in. I applied for jobs, watched Netflix, wandered around aimlessly, all the while refusing to acknowledge the bills that I was powerless to deal with.

Having said all that, and considering my situation, I wasn’t depressed, sad, unmotivated, or hopeless. I was confident, strong, unaffected and relaxed. I realised that there was a lot of fat that needed cutting from my life, and began to see clearly all the things I hadn’t had time to contemplate when working. I began listing (I do love a list) and created a Bullet Journal, inspired by many Pinterest boards, and a plan started to form. Once I knew I had got the job, I continued with the planning, examining, listing. I stopped taking the pill as it numbs me completely, despite the fact that I know “un-numbed” I can be unpredictable and wild.

It seems as though I will really enjoy this job, it is different and already I am feeling excited about possibilities.

Combined with my planning for the future, I am feeling very positive and motivated, slightly more whole than usual, and content. The time away from work has given me the space I needed to sort out some much needed mental spring cleaning, so as much as I hate unemployment, it would seem to have its unexpected benefits!

The Void Inside

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I have discussed said void before in posts, it is the ever present, ever sucking hole inside of me that I cannot determine. It is the restlessness, the procrastination, the goal that is always planned but not quite begun, the decision that teeters on the edge of my mind, the identity dancing just out of my reach, the achievement mocking me from the corner of the room. It is emptiness, dissatisfaction, waiting, sadness, anxiety and hedonism.

There are a few things that hit it right in the centre. They don’t cause it to disappear, it is still there, but they fill it and numb it. I still feel it, but I feel the fullness of it and there is a release. Those things are:

Being drunk

Having a cigarette

Getting a tattoo

Getting spanked

Orgasms

 

It is a physical feeling of fullness and the release is sweet, but fleeting.

There are however, two things I have encountered in life that have made the void disappear:

Doing a truly spontaneous exciting thing

The excitement of the build up to a first kiss, if it takes weeks or months, even better.

 

These things make the void disappear completely, and for those moments I am whole. I am alive, truly living in the present. I get a similar, if not quite as satisfactory, feeling when looking at something new and being independent on my own on a sunny day.

But how feasible is it to bounce between these things in order to try and feel alive? I have spent my twenties (and latter part of my teenage years) partying, doing these very things in a constant stream, in order to try and feel alive and plug up the inevitable consuming void inside. I cannot carry on like this. My body is starting to show signs of wear and tear form the years of partying, my mind haunted by some of the things I have done.

I read about people who discover meditation and yoga and green juice and fill that hole, but I don’t think that is going to work for me. I have tried it.

I need to find a way of plugging the hole, otherwise, if I carry on like this, it is eventually going to suck me down with it.

 

 

Brain Fog

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via Daily Prompt: Foggy

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We’ve all experienced brain fog.

Normal brain fog is usually the inability to think clearly, make sense of a situation or use any problem solving skills. It’s a frustrating feeling, but there is a worse kind.

Emotional brain fog.

This occurs when you are so overwhelmed you can’t think rationally anymore.

I feel like that recently. There has just been too much, and I have reached my capacity. My brain cascades into numbness, I can feel it falling, shutters closing around me and then there is nothing. No errant thoughts and ponderings wandering across my mind, just the screams of the overwhelmed, the whimpers of the tired. I have very little fight left in me. I don’t know how to recuperate anymore. The words start but trail off a few sentences in.

Even writing this is taking longer than usual.

I need a break from everything, but in this modern life when do we get to take a break? I have to be at work at 9am tomorrow. How much of a break can you get in an evening where you have so many things to do, that can’t wait.

If anyone knows the answer, please give me a hint…

Growing Old Reluctantly – It’s my birthday and I’m terrified.

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It is my birthday on 5th May. I shall be 29 years old, and that is possibly the most terrifying thing that has ever happened to me (or is about to happen).

Why does this feel so terrifying?

Perhaps in my head I associate being in your 20’s as the time to grow as a person, achieve, make connections, set your life out and get your shit together. It is the time to blossom, to have the magical moment where you become a person.

I do not feel yet like I am quite a person. Still a piece of plaster-cine in need of molding.

My peers look at me expectantly, as though they too expect me to be a fully assembled person, and I am afraid I just am not. They live wonderful lives of conformity, doing all the things society deems we should at this age, marriage, kids, mortgages, things that I  have no interest in.

I want to go to a city centre and take black and white photographs of pidgeons and weird buildings.

I want to discover a weird bar and drink there all day talking to weird and fascinating people.

I want to meet random people and invent a new sport.

I want to listen to music loud and let it fill and nourish my soul.

I want to buy some super soakers from a pound shop and chase my friends around a town centre. But my friends don’t want to do that.

 

They want to go home in their finance cars, to a home that they have bought, where a spouse awaits with a meal and an evening in front of the telly where they tell each other about their days and then go try to make a baby.

Trying to make a baby sounds like the worst thing you can do to sex. How to make it go from sexy to a regimented boring outcome orientated activity.

But these are just my opinions. I support all choices, and I am happy for people who want to live that life, any life, but it is not a life for me. I feel increasingly isolated in my beliefs and outlook.

Increasingly I see people who are accomplished, grown up looking, fully functioning people, who I assume are older than me, only to find out that they are actually some years younger than me. I don’t know if I look old, I see my face everyday so can’t judge, but I probably do.

I can no longer use the excuse “because I’m only young”.

Mortality starts to become a little more real when you find yourself doing something without thinking of the consequences, and then hurting yourself.

My body has changed (largely because of the implant) but I am sure were I younger I would find it easier to shift the excess weight.

Yet inside I feel unchanged. Wiser, better, stronger, but not a grown up yet.

On the plus side I thought about turning 30 next year and started hyperventilating, so 29 isn’t that bad….