Column: Fighting imposters

‘I go on about my day, assemble a silly little outfit, pair it with Doc Martens and think it will compensate for my perpetual state of eternal self-doubt. Nice try, Daria, but you are still a failure.’

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Jessica Lee

“One day the imposter will be silenced and I can peacefully exist within my own head.”

Every day I listen to the same songs by The Smiths, contemplate the inevitable void of death while staring out the window and wonder: “Why am I like this?” 

Let me begin by saying, no, I don’t hate myself. If someone were to have asked me this question at age 15, I would have given them an entirely different answer. But since then, I have learned to co-exist with the qualities I once despised about myself–a real win for anxiety-driven teens everywhere. Hooray! 

My present-day struggle at 18, however, is conquering the evil imposter residing in my brain: the little voice that tells me, despite my best efforts, I am doing everything completely and totally wrong, the little voice screaming “Andrea, you suck!” 

I like to think I’m doing relatively well. I’m not an entirely moronic individual: my grades are satisfactory, my teachers seem to like me, I have friends and I’ve stumbled upon success a few times. And I have some idea of what I’d like to do with my life, which is pretty remarkable given the current uncertainties of the world. 

I go on about my day, assemble a silly little outfit, pair it with Doc Martens and think it will compensate for my perpetual state of eternal self-doubt. Nice try, Daria, but you are still a failure. 

And with that, I fall deeper into the spiral of endless thought. 

As I sit here writing these words, I am slapped in the face with an important realization–the imposter is hard at work, right at this very moment! 

Writing, the one thing that actually makes sense to me, has suddenly become an impossible task. I sit here and find it impossible to formulate a coherent thought. But when I finally stumble upon a eureka moment–a “Hey, that was pretty good! Write that down, write that down,” the little demon in my brain laughs and thus, I am left with a blank page once again. 

The imposter has won this round. And will probably win the next one. And the next. 

But, in an attempt to be optimistic, I make my best efforts to listen to the cutesy, mushy side of my brain, the side of my brain that screams “Hey, kid. Life sucks sometimes, but look at what you’ve just accomplished. Pretty rad, huh? Give yourself credit, friend.” 

And for a brief moment, I am swept up into this little cloud. What is this? Self-acceptance? What a riot! I should come here more often. 

While on the self-acceptance cloud, I see things rationally. It is here I realize the metrics I’ve been utilizing to determine my self-worth are completely absurd and inaccurate. This obsession I’ve developed with numbers (despite my general hatred of math. Stupid, stupid math), is unhealthy and deprecating in every way. It is simply impossible for me to try and squeeze myself into a box, to try and give a definition to who I am as a person based on how well I can perform on standardized tests.

I am not a stellar test-taker, and I’m anxious a great majority of the time. In fact, I’m anxious right now (Oooh! She’s different!). But I believe in this: I believe in these words I am writing, and I believe in my silly little outfits with Doc Martens to match. And though I’m a tremendous work in progress, and I have countless identity crises awaiting me before I fully conquer the imposter and figure out why I am the way I am, I will get there. Eventually. Not now, but eventually. 

One day the imposter will be silenced and I can peacefully exist within my own head. For now, I make self-deprecating jokes to cope and keep moving along. To the tune of any The Smiths song, of course.