Impostor Syndrome

Wednesday, 29 November 2017


I don't feel like myself at the moment. It's not like I don't think I've changed, or I've changed too much. It's basically the fact I don't recognise myself anymore, looks and behaviour wise. Thankfully I have a psychology degree and learned first hand that this is all normal after a huge impact of change. 

It started after a huge change, the biggest change I've experienced in my whole life. It's safe to say it left me a little vulnerable to say the least. Whilst this was happening I was coming to the end of my degree and I was being pressured to think about the future. It was a lot for a person to handle and to deal with it I focused on changing myself for the better. I started doing things completely out of my usual comfort zone and although some would say that this is a good step towards growth, I just wasn't thinking and therefore, wasn't growing. I booked a trip to the middle of nowhere for a month, I used to go out almost every night and kiss strangers, I took drugs at festivals and did a lot of damaging things. Although this is a completely normal way to behave after radical change, it was pretty risky and damaging and I do not recommend, especially if you're trying to build up your self worth. 

Last month I cut my hair. When I look in the mirror I don't recognise anything about me, it's very un-nerving. When I'm putting makeup on in the morning my skin looks different, I have more eye bags than I used to and the colours of the makeup and my clothes don't look right. Also I don't seem to recognise consequences (that's a bit extreme but I don't know what else to explain it as) or recognition when I do something good. When I play a show I don't believe the applause is for me. I feel like I'm pretending, because I don't know who I am, therefore it mustn't be me. I'm fully aware that this is due to my long running and continuing bouts of identity crisis that I tend to go through monthly and they certainly don't help the situation. Maybe they are a consequence of this feeling though? All I know is it's hard to grasp hold of how it makes me feel; I'm aware of growth and change but I'm also aware of how un-settled I am and I'm getting a bit tired of it, I want to feel comfortable again. It's a very strange feeling and I'm not sure I'm making sense so let's let science talk for a bit. 

This feeling is a mild reflection of what people in the field like to call Impostor Syndrome. When a person constantly feels like a fraud or out-of-body because they can't identify with themselves. This can come from both radical change and the need for perfection/inadequacy. People projecting this feeling can go one of two ways; either overworking constantly or not working at all from fear of failure. I have experienced both of these things over the last 8 months and tend to fluctuate between them daily. 

I know the term syndrome is dangerous and is thrown around for none psycho-symptomatic feelings or emotions, however I am using this term lightly. IS is a psychology buzzword and not actually a diagnosed mental illness, although it can be a form of depersonalisation. I'm writing this post because I feel weird and I would like to know that I'm not alone with these feelings. I know they're normal after the events of this year but it is still very un-settling to not know who you are anymore. 

I do try to see it as a kind-of positive though, just knowing that I have so much room for growth and one day I will be able to recognise myself again and acknowledge my accomplishments. I'm just going to keep doing what I'm doing and hopefully one day find out that I've been myself this whole time. 

This was an absolute brain dump and I'm sorry if it doesn't make sense, even if I tried to use science to explain. I'll leave some more factual and knowledgeable links here because I recognise that I haven't explained this very well. 

I would love to know if you have had any of these experiences before and what you did to make yourself feel better about it or more normal? Do you think IS is a thing we need to recognise in ourselves more?

        

   

6 comments

  1. What. I've been feeling the exact same way it's scary! My best friend who is studying psychology told me the same thing and it's been so interesting to read about it again here. It totally made sense to me! My "advice" would be to just keep going and doing what you like, even if you're like "wth am I doing" and "who tf am I". One day it'll all fit again somehow and at least you'll know you've followed your heart all along, even when you didn't know where you belonged x

    Hannah | Wild At Heart

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    1. I'm so glad I'm not alone in this. Yeah I'm trying to do that at the moment and it seems to be the best way through it, thank you.

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  2. I think this is something that can happen to many of us. It is frightening, but going through great periods of change can do this to us. I experienced a lot of the same things you have, and did a lot of what you had to. I started to feel like I didn't know myself, but that's what inspired me to change in the end. I hope you end up feeling better soon, it may take some time but I'm sure you will start to feel okay again xx

    Sending light & love your way,

    My Lovelier Days

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    1. Yeah, I kind of knew it was coming from learning all about it, but I was still surprised to the extent it affected me, thank you.

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  3. Over the past year, I really have suffered with not knowing who I am and my behaviour towards certain things and life in general has changed dramatically. I've done things I wish I hadn't, and I don't seem to think about consequences either, which like you say, can be very unnerving. I hope you're doing okay though lovely and I'm sure things will pick up!

    Lucy | Forever September

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    1. Yeah it such a strange thing to be so brash and un-caring about decisions, when normally I'd think of every little thing through. Thank you, I hope I'm out of the worst of it now and I hope you are too!

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