I spent much of my 20s and early 30s feeling like I was an imposter. Or maybe I was an imposter. I would sit in my law school classes and think “when are they going to find me out?” “When will they discover that I don’t belong.” Then I became a lawyer and thought “Who do I think I am being a lawyer?” “How could they give me this responsibility – don’t they know I’m faking it?” And then the biggest fraud of all – I became a mother! I had never even changed a diaper and they let me become a mother! Are they crazy???
So fast forward to me in my mid-fifties. I graduated from law school and passed the bar on my first try. I then passed two other state bars and practiced law in Boston and Los Angeles and have no malpractice suits filed against me. While I made many parenting mistakes, I have two amazing daughters who are not yet showing any signs of permanent damage. So why am I still pretending?
I signed up for Better After 50 Writer’s Workshop and in my introduction, I said I am not a writer. I have cooked for my family every night during quarantine and yet still deny being a cook. I wrote three blogs for that workshop and received plenty of constructive criticism along with a lot of positive encouragement. I just made homemade hummus – we all know the store sells perfectly good hummus in all sorts of flavors. A not-cook does not make homemade hummus.
In my 20s I suffered from imposter syndrome – a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. Is there such a thing as reverse imposter syndrome? Could I be exhibiting a pattern of behavior where I downplay my accomplishments and abilities – what is my fear? Is it the same fear – being exposed as a fraud? Am I still unsure and insecure? When I heard myself say “I am not a writer” for the tenth time during the workshop – I vowed not to do that again. I would not want my daughters to pretend they are not capable and accomplished and I will not settle for that behavior for myself.
When I signed up for the writing workshop, I knew I could write and that I had a voice I wanted to share. I don’t love to cook but when put to the task, I’m not half bad. You know what else – I’m good tennis player, I’m creative, and I’m a great waterskier. Oh, but I really do suck at golf.