Imposter Syndrome – INTRODUCTION
I won an essay writing competition in my school once. Actually, for my school.
I represented my school and out of so many people from other schools, somehow I won.
Each time this memory shows up in my head, I catch myself feeling like a fraud because I didn’t write that essay alone. This my award winning essay, I didn’t write it alone.
I remember that night clearly. My English teacher at the time had called I and 3 others into her office saying that she wanted us to write an essay on Education and something something (I can’t quite remember the title now) and I remember being unhappy about this particular task because it wasn’t the first time that my teacher would single me out and make me write all sorts of things just to prove that I wasn’t a fraud and I wasn’t stealing my essays from a book or an external source.
But this particular day, I wasn’t interested. So I asked one of my nerdy friends to write this boring essay. I didn’t care if it was good, I just wanted it done.
I remember submitting it, I didn’t even bother to proofread.
“This is not you Oreva. Write another one. I don’t like this”
I was upset, but I couldn’t show it so I stormed out.
I sat at my desk and read through what my friend had written. It was so good.
I could never have come up with a write up like that, not in a million years, not on a topic as boring as that.
So instead of writing a new one from scratch, I edited his. Because again, I couldn’t be bothered.
Then I submitted it.
Imagine my surprise the next day at assembly when I was told that I had been selected to represent my school in a big essay competition because of an essay that I had written.
I wanted to scream and tell them that the essay wasn’t mine, at least not fully.
I ran to my friend crying.
“How will I do it? That essay wasn’t mine and you know it”
He took the paper I had submitted from my hands where it was crumpled up in a ball with panic tear stains streaked in awkward corners.
“Oreva this isn’t the essay I wrote for you. You changed it a bit”
“I know but it’s not mine. It’s not my idea”
He looked at me like I was mad
But I wasn’t, I was terrified.
All the while in that car that transported us to the venue, I felt my heart rise to my throat in fear.
My eyes constantly fighting the tears that were threatening to escape against my will.
What will I tell people if they asked why I was crying?
So I fought the tears and hid my fear. All the while, my heart was pounding in my chest.
We got there and I still didn’t feel ready.
Not when we were called into the room to “settle in”
Not when we were stripped of all our belongings save for our pens and the writing sheet.
Not when the invigilator announced start and everybody around me started writing vigorously.
Not when I sat in that exam room still fighting tears because I had forgotten the essay that I had crammed. The one my friend had written for me.
But still, by some miracle. I won.
I still didn’t think that I deserved it. I still don’t.
This was my first introduction to imposter syndrome.
There would be other events in the future that mirrored this, but this was my first.
What do you do when you feel like a fraud?
This thing called imposter syndrome.
How do you handle it?
To be continued…..
In the next couple of posts, I’ll share more tales on imposter syndrome, I’ll share the victories I’ve had and the times I struggled to pick myself up. I’ll share it all. So stay tuned.
And yeah, Happy New Year.