Thursday, November 15, 2012

Impostor Syndrome at Home

You've heard about Impostor Syndrome? No matter how successful we appear, many academics feel like frauds . We think we're not nearly as smart and hard-working as we appear to be. When we're praised for our work or intellect, we think "if only they knew." 

The truth is, very few academics are frauds, we're just neurotic.

Yesterday, a colleague saw me with the littlest child and asked, "How do you do it?" I thought to myself, if only she knew

If only she knew how many dirty clothes are on my living room floor. If only she knew I yelled at my son for smearing glue on the walls (and then discovered he'd been making a card for me). If only she knew how many times I'd fed my children frozen pizza for dinner. (I did warm it up first.)

Then it hit me: I have Impostor Syndrome in all facets of my life! 

Then I had another revelation: What if I'm not the only one?

Maybe other people yell at their kids, feed them crap on busy days, and have dirty houses. Maybe we're all hiding this because we all feel like impostors!

I'm just going to tell myself that's true. If it's not, please don't disillusion me.


1 comment:

  1. I think you hit the nail on the head here-- I have Imposter Syndrome in all areas of my life, too! There are a bazillion things I could do better at work AND at home, and I'm horribly conscious of many of them. Last night we had Taco Bell burritos for dinner with nary a vegetable in sight, and the kids' pants are all too short because I've been grading and writing job applications at night instead of digging different bins of cool-weather clothes out of the nether regions of an incredibly messy closet. I got into an unnecessarily heated argument with my 6yo over whether 7+4 really was 19 or whether she should check her work. There's a paper on my computer that needs just a few hours of revisions before it's ready to submit to a journal, and it's been sitting there for 3 weeks. It's just massively discouraging.

    On the other hand, the kids are safe and fed and know I love them, and I'm getting the dratted applications in on time (even if they hit the circular file PDQ once they get there), so things could be a lot worse.

    I suspect I'm the kind of person who, if she stayed home full time, would worry about how often she dusted the blinds or cleaned the drain openings in the sink, and whether her kids missed a single point on a spelling test or weren't invited to the PTA president's daughter's birthday party. I'd be just as neurotic, but about different and less important things. At least, that's what I tell myself.