I feel like a fraud.
A friend suggested that I write daily reasons why my voice matters. I was supposed to do this for 30 days. I think I lasted four days. I wrote a bunch of reasons (about 20) and they are all true... but it didn't assuage my fraudulent feelings for long. (Yes, I am returning to this assignment immediately) One conversation that I have often with my boyfriend is why I don't see myself the way that others do. I really can't answer that question. So, my trusty friend Mr. Google allowed me to search for more information about feeling like a fraud. I learned a lot.
Imposter Syndrome is real.
The term that is used to describe this phenomenon is "Imposter Syndrome" and it seems to be very prevalent among women. (figures) For some reason, we simply are uncomfortable accepting that we are as knowledgeable about things as we are. (sounds like me) I don't like the word "imposter" even though I suppose it is valid. But, the words "Imposter Syndrome" are so JARRING to me. How can I be an imposter about my own life? It is, after all, MY life.
Well smarty pants... how is that different from feeling like a fraud?
Welp... that's a good question. My answer? I dunno.
Reminding yourself of what you have accomplished does help
Facebook has this cool feature now where you can look at your timeline/news feed from the same date in a different year. Last night while I was procrastinating and thinking, I looked at my news feed from a year ago.
One year ago, I was nominated for an award based on my twitter activity which centers around this blog. Which is based on my life. I won the award by the way. (smile) So... if people who don't know me, found me on twitter and watched my activity and felt that it was worthy of an award... whyyyyy do I feel like a fraud?
I have no earthly idea. *sigh*
A year before that, I was invited to a breast cancer blogger panel discussion in London; again, based solely on what was found on the internet. All based on this blog, which is based on my life. A month before that London trip, I was a featured cancer survivor in a social media campaign for a multinational corporation. And so on. I'm not tooting my own horn because for some reason that makes me uncomfortable. But I am showing that there is a pattern here where I have done good work and yet I still don't think it is good enough.
I think a portion of my fraudulent feelings come from understanding the enormity of the breast cancer experience and feeling incapable of articulating all of the variances and nuances of this disease, its treatment and survivorship. I feel as though I should be more versed in everything even though I know logically that it simply is not possible. People have been studying this disease for years and are perplexed and confused by it as well. People far smarter and more educated than I am.
*ding* And perhaps that is the challenge I am facing. Am I discounting the value of my experience with breast cancer? I suppose in some ways I am. That is a shame.
I looked through my blog and found three separate posts here, here and here... where I discussed feeling like a fraud. Isn't that something?
I am a survivor. That is a good thing.
Being a survivor is (sometimes) a really heavy experience. It is so emotional, so physical and so confusing. I don't always know who I am. I feel as though the entire world shifted under my feet and I still don't quite have my bearings. And then I will read something I wrote years ago and I remember how much I've been through and how much I've shared. How much I've grown and... how much I may have taught someone else. Then I feel more grounded that my experiences are valid.
My experiences and my feelings are valid. I have a voice in this world.
I am not a medical doctor specializing in oncology. It is not likely that I will discover the cure to cancer. I am, however, a writer and a storyteller. There is no valid minimization of that gift.
Let me repeat that for myself...
I am a writer and a storyteller. There is NO valid minimization of that gift.
One of my favorite pictures of myself was taken near the end of my chemotherapy treatment. I am bald as a cueball and my lashes are gone. But I am smiling so big because I am happy. I was having a good day with good friends. My eyes are dancing and I seem to be saying... "I made it. I survived breast cancer. What else can I do?"
I made it. I survived breast cancer. What else can I do? ~Nic Nac Paddywack
What have you survived, learned, witnessed that gives you the power and self-encouragement to tackle that next step? I know you've done something amazing. Let me know in the comments, so that I can celebrate you. Remember, your experiences are valid and your voice matters.