They said “what you don’t know can’t kill you” well…. they lied.
I had just seen my sixth result that semester, it was an A! Six A’s? I was excited at first and immediately, I started getting really scared (I didn’t know this was weird at that time). I was so heavily consumed with stressing about my self-suggested inadequacies. My brain consciously chose to ignore the numerous times I was sent out of the library for staying too late, the starving to buy books, the calling my mentors for help, crying to Ugochi that my CGPA was a mess at some point, praying with faith to do well, begging people to teach them because I over understood a concept… I’ll leave these stories for another post…
I noticed that whenever I tried celebrating my achievements in general, I always have this thought like I have deceived the world and defrauded someone more worthy of their title. I saw myself feeling awkward when people call me genius or “efiwe” as they always did. I constantly thought that one day, my real dumb self will just come out like Taadaa! And people will eventually realize that I have been “scamming” them all along… I even had weirder thoughts, if I say some you may laugh so hard and forget the purpose of this post, so I will stop here.
I thought this was normal at that time until I came across the word “Impostor Syndrome”. You know those words, you look up over the internet or dictionary and say they perfectly describe your situation! That was it. I didn’t even know my condition at that time had a name. I was in awe. I didn’t even think it was a problem, some people even argue it is a mental disorder. Oh wow!
As in most cases, my discovery of this problem was the beginning of my journey of being mentally re-oriented. I will share a mix of how I spotted and personally tackled this syndrome and some other suggestions from some seasoned writers.
Some tell tales signs that you may be suffering from the Impostor Syndrome
Perfectionism: You work so extensively hard and pay unnecessary attention to details because you are scared that one little mistake will “expose you”. You practice your presentation 30 billion times because you are anxious, you end up getting burned out for nothing!
Seclusion: You find yourself avoiding people, you don’t want to be with them so that on the D-day when your real “dumb self” shows up. You feel everyone you meet is trying to test your knowledge, so you stay in your shell constantly.
“Humility”: When people blow your trumpet you hide your face, you won’t even speak of your achievements yourself.*sigh. I can’t even mention the countless things I missed because of this trait. Thinking of it now, some people who weren’t all that and could speak so much of the little they’ve achieved, usually get the accolades. It’s okay to speak of your achievements, it’s not a sin.
Bitterness: You are constantly embittered that you don’t get enough recognition for your good works, you feel people are hyping you less than they should. You make comments like “Is it because I don’t talk…?
To tackle this here’s what I’ll suggest :
– Know and understand your worth: This is probably the most important of them all. If you don’t know what you have or carry, you will continue to question your abilities and achievements. Believe in yourself, this can’t be overemphasized. It helps you stay confident.
–Choose your friends wisely: not everyone will believe in your abilities so not everyone can and should be your friend. If your friends constantly feed the impostor in you, you may want to consider cutting them off or replacing them. In a bid to fix me, I had to let go of over 60% of my friends and this wasn’t as easy then as it sounds now.
– Stop Comparing yourself with other people: I have written explicitly on these in one of my previous posts (read here).
– Stop discounting your success: I use to think this was a sign of humility during my ignorant stage. When people say things like “wow you are so smart how did you manage to solve all the question so fast” I would probably say stuff like “it wasn’t that hard” when I probably didn’t get a wink of sleep to solve it. I wonder why we even get angry when people take the credit when we wouldn’t even take it. *sighs
– Keep Achieving: Even though you may feel a little unsure about yourself don’t let it stop you, keep breaking grounds, keep achieving and keep being you…
I once suffered the impostor syndrome because I didn’t know it was a “thing”, you shouldn’t have to, you know now! The world already has too many factors that can stop you, you shouldn’t be one of them.
Nonso (Rock Lover)
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Photo Credit: The design team
Useful Link: Impostor Syndrome Test.