The thing is, I shrink from praise. I tend to downgrade most of what I do because I truly believe that others can do it better. Take this blog, for instance. I have spoken previously about how I'd love to take it to the next level. How I'd love to find a way to actually do this for a living, or at the very least, for a meager paycheck that could supplement my
I embark on educational endeavors that I am convinced I will never complete, or will never pay off because I'm still not confident that I will not be hired. They will look at my grades and they will look at me, and they will see a discrepancy. I got an A+ on my Abnormal Psych exam last night, and I was convinced that it was somehow fixed, and I shudder at the thought of anyone else (particularly my peers in the class) finding out about it. Why? Because they will see me as an ass-kisser, or a "know it all," both untrue labels.
I didn't know that this set of erroneous thoughts actually had a proper designation until last night. My teacher/friend wanted to tell everyone that I got a perfect score on his test, noted the look of stark-eyed panic on my face, and then offered up a diagnosis. It's referred to as Impostor Syndrome, and it's defined by Wikipedia (and other sources) as not being able to "internalize one's own accomplishments." It doesn't matter what kind of success you've achieved -- you are convinced that you do not deserve it, and that you fooled others to get it.
It's also characterized by this unshakable anxiety, one that keeps a person from accomplishing their heart's greatest dreams and desires for fear that they will be "found out" for the fraud they really are. As a result, they procrastinate or don't do anything at all.
So continues this battle between the external and the internal. People can tell me I'm smart, and to a certain extent I believe them. Certainly I'm not an idiot, but the same can be said for the majority of people. That doesn't make me special. That makes me normal. Big whoop! I'm normal!
Internally, I think: "There is NOTHING that you can do that hasn't been done by millions of people already. You're not creative enough. You're stuck inside the box and you'll never be able to think outside it. You think you want to write a book? Be a professional blogger? Have your own syndicated column? So do about a gazillion other people, sweetheart. You think you're better than them? Stop pretending. Get a certificate in medical billing and go to work like everyone else."
My friend predicts that in a few years, I will shake this Impostor Syndrome. Actually, he said that "God told him" that it would be in April of 2011 that this would happen. I told him that if God spoke to him, of all people, then there might be hope.
Anyway, I'm not writing about my ailment in order to garner attention, compliments, etc. I'm writing about it because I know some people who suffer from the very same thing, and they also might not know about it. They might wonder why they've always been afraid to reach higher in life. They, like me, might think they are smart enough for a 2-year college degree, but feel like once they actually reach the next phase they will find that their luck has run out.
In that case, I hope I don't have to wait longer than 4 years to get past this. In 4 years, I intend to have at least a Master's Degree, and I'd like to think I'd be able to put it to use for something.