Imposter Syndrome

Photo by Krista Cucarese @ kri.sta

Photo by Krista Cucarese @kri.sta

What if people can see right through me? See how fake I am? This lie I am living? And if it’s really this big lie why do I keep living this way? These are the thoughts that run through my mind whenever I have the desire to do something I am passionate about. Being an engineer, a yoga teacher, a martial artist, developing recipes, and even writing these posts. Why? If I am truly passionate about all these things why am I so afraid that people will think I am fake at literally everything I do?

The answer might be that I have a major case of imposter syndrome. I have been aware of imposter syndrome for a while since halfway through college. Apparently, imposter syndrome is very common among female engineers (which there are too few of in my opinion). But last night I got stuck in another one of my many holes that always feels so impossible to climb out of. I had a hard time focusing at work, I didn't make it to the dojo, I didn't feel like cooking and eating, and of course, I slept more than usual so I could escape the misery I was in. I managed to practice yoga twice yesterday but even that didn't feel good like it usually does.

And now that I have had time to just cry and be present with my negative emotions, I am starting to realize that perhaps I feel this way because I am seeking validation. Validation that I can't give to myself right now. I am continuing to ask myself more and more of these extremely negative questions:

I tell people I am an engineer but because I am still relatively new at it I feel like I am not a very good one. What if people eventually realize that I am not as intelligent as most people perceive engineers to be?

I've been practicing yoga for years and I just started guiding other people but sometimes in my own practice (like yesterday) no matter what I do I can’t move with ease and I don't feel intuitiveness that lets me figure out what my mind and body needs at the moment. What if people who attend my classes see that and don’t believe in me to guide them?

I am not sure exactly what clicked in my brain when I decided martial arts was going to be a such a huge part of my life. When I first started practicing karate, I barely committed to it because I wasn’t ready just yet. Fast forward to a few years later. I have been learning Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu which I have made the commitment to practicing more than ever. But I still go to my dojo after all this time and sometimes I just don’t get it. It discourages me once in a while and I just think I am not good at this. Why do I keep trying? People will see how bad I am this and then I have wasted years of training.

I have been experimenting with making up my own recipes ever since I could get into a kitchen. I cook for my friends all the time who tell me I should write a cookbook, start a blog, something. But I am thinking: Why? There are already so many people out there sharing their recipes, their works of art in the kitchen. Who is going to look at mine?

I recently wrote a bunch of posts for my latest series about family relationships. They are stories about my parents and sisters. But I can't bring myself to publish them. Because what if my feelings of sadness towards them aren’t real? What if I really am I bad daughter, a bad sister and I can’t own up to it and just be a better person? What if I am a horrible person with no heart? Maybe I’m just selfish and I only care about myself and my ego.

As I am writing this I realize how hard I am on myself. I wouldn't have made it through four years of engineering school and gotten my current job if I wasn't worthy of being an engineer.

If I was such a bad yoga teacher, I wouldn't see the same few people who come to my class every week and thank me for making their day and for helping them relax and feel good.

And I do still think I have a lot to learn in my martial arts practice. But when I can focus and I go to my dojo almost every day I don’t think about how I don't get it. I think about how I can get it. How much I enjoy learning this discipline with such wonderful teachers and classmates.

Lately, I have been writing a lot of recipes. They're not unique in the sense that I know a lot of these recipes have been written already in countless cookbooks and blogs. But none of them have been written by me. None of them have my story behind them.

And lastly, how could I have no heart? I know I love my family and I always will no matter what. That doesn’t sound heartless to me. Maybe I do need to work on being a better daughter and a better sister. But right now it's hard to draw the line between working on those things and not losing myself in the process.

So there. I've finally written about this imposter syndrome I have been having for years. And every year it grows bigger with everything I do. But I can’t keep letting it take over my life like this. I have to believe that I am intelligent, talented, passionate, and loving. No one is going to do it for me. I know this because I have a few friends who tell me over and over that, I am, in fact, all these things. That I am not as bad at everything as I think I am, but I don't believe them most of the time. How can they or anyone for that matter validate me if I can’t validate myself? It always starts with me. If I am seeking validation, it starts right here and right now.