Sunday, April 15, 2018

Imposter syndrome is strong in this one

My first post may have seemed like I have a vendetta against those who are not in my small niche, partially I do, but partially I also want to instill in other people the idea that they deserved be treated with respect and dignity.

It has come to my attention in a painfully obvious way, that I am vulnerable in ways that make it easy for others to take advantage of me. I want to explore those vulnerabilities in a way that will help me gain more self respect so it makes it easier for me to recognize when and how I am vulnerable so I can better be prepared to respond when someone crosses the line. I also want to help others recognize when they are vulnerable too.

I see it all the time in posts across the internet and in interactions with people who are different. We all have a need to feel accepted for who we are, but those of us who feel different wear this need as a badge. This bade that we wear, makes us slaves to our differences.

In a post I saw recently, the original poster was worried about telling their boss about their disability. I initially thought, if you need something to do your job well, you shouldn't be afraid to tell someone. But I instantly squashed that thought because I've been essentially doing the same thing my whole life.

When I wrote earlier about why I did not use the visual aids that were offered to me, I said it was for social posterity. But as I got older, there was another reason.

I wanted to live my life without visual aids because I needed to prove to myself that I could do it without worry that I got to where I am, without someone feeling bad for me.

This thinking made me vulnerable. It made me defensive, it made me second guess my own achievements. It made me second guess my own worth. In psychology we call that imposter syndrome. The idea that you don't belong in your station of life. That you do not deserve the things you have because someone probably just felt sorry for you. Constant fear of being found out as a fraud or that someone will tell you that they recognize that you actually do not belong where you are because of _______. Fill in the blank for the thing you feel most disadvantaged about.

This thinking makes the sufferer vulnerable. Everything becomes an apology. Every mistake becomes a point where you feel you deserve to be attacked. Every attack, deserved or not, becomes a point that you're defensive about. It's a vicious loop. If you're unfortunate enough to meet a predator that preys on just that kind of weakness, it can have consequences that can even drive you to suicide. 

I have the unfortunate luck to be in a sector of society where impostor syndrome runs high as a recent PhD graduate.and 
 to have met a person who spots and takes advantage of vulnerabilities. This combination neatly literally killed me. More about this as the blog unfolds.

But let's go back... How do you deal with feeling like you're an imposter in your own life, so you are less vulnerable? You get yourself a therapist if you feel it's really bad. But start thinking about yourself differently. Most people are not going to feel sorry for you to give you things like job promotions. Work toward recognizing that you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity for the mere fact that you're a fellow human being. Those seem like tiny steps, but the challenge is to remember this in the face of feeling like you have to apologize for taking up too much space and breathing too much precious oxygen, as if your different body somehow deserves less. You deserve to be present in your own life and you deserve the same access to things just like everyone else.

Go forth with the challenge. Write a comment or share if it will validate your right to be.

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