Hi! My name is Durga and I suffer from Impostor syndrome.
Okay, I didn’t mean for it to sound so grim but it can be quite mentally daunting.
Let me explain, I grew up in a strict home. My mother encouraged nothing but greatness. You could say she wanted me to be better than she was growing up.
This betterment made her a little single-minded.
My every day revolved around education. Top of my class, participating in multiple events/activities, winning awards (I’ve even won a cleanliest uniform in school…do you get what I mean now?)
There was no room for mistakes – couldn’t be too friendly with boys but I was most comfortable around my guy friends, couldn’t hang out at a friends house, they had to come to mine.
As a child, the fear of mistakes, the fear of failure circled me like a hawk watching its prey. I was stuck in the societal box of “perfection”.
Nothing about me fits that construct…
- A first-generation American; on a journey to claim her dual citizenship as Ghanaian-American (trying to coin this ASAP).
- lived on two different continents
- first-generation college student
- a polyglot
- Would rather be a starving artist than a rich doctor
- A writer/content creator (hey! I’ve earned the title)
I DO NOT FIT IN, my entire existence (not purposefully) is to stand out but years and years within the perfection box left me blind to this and made me uncomfortable to stand out.
Teenage years came with challenges.
I was in a new country without my cousins or my friends. Puberty and the need to break free made me quiet and angsty.
Angst brought on anxiety.
Anxiety ground my self-confidence into dust.
- Doubts of my abilities x achievements x dreams
- self-loathe/negative self-talk,
- feelings of inadequacy,
- dwelling on past mistakes
barreled into each other, leaving a fixed mindset.
Dealing with impostorism as a teenager, brought on many insecurities, trust issues, detachments. Issues I dragged on into my adulthood but I didn’t know any better then.
I associated my impostorism with a strict mother who drilled perfectionism into my young intellect, with the lack of enrichment, with the lack of accepting my Self, with the lack of pursuing happiness rather than money and title, with a lack of a consistent support system.
That wasn’t the case. If you’re catching up then you’ll realize all these “lack of” revolve around IGNORANCE and young innocence.
Through the journey of understanding my Intellect, Intuition, and Instinct, I’m learning that I am not an impostor (the girl finding her place in this big beautiful universe) but I am progress leading to success, determination leading to passion, self-love leading loving others.
If you’re reading this and just clocked that this syndrome is something you’re dealing with, whether it’s at your school (high school or university), your current job, in your friendships, your love life…whatever it is, just know that you are enough! Not everyone needs to love you but the starting point is loving your self.
Before I go, these are some of the ways I deal with my syndrome.
-> Reading/Educating myself
For a long time, I thought my parents knew everything and what they know is always right. I am not saying parents are frauds but their wisdom is limited to what they’ve experienced (all adults). Always take what someone says into consideration, not as your daily bread, then find out more for yourself.
x Intuition: Knowing Beyond Logic
This read is a breakdown of the SELF and the components within. Osho explains that to understand the SELF completely, one must begin to understand the Intellect, Instinct and Intuition.
“Intellect is not going to be your home. It is a small instrument, to be used only for passing from instinct to intuition. So only the person who uses his intellect to go beyond it can be called intelligent. Intuition is existential. Instinct is natural. Intellect is just groping in the dark. The faster you move beyond intellect, the better; intellect can be a barrier to those who think nothing is beyond it. Intellect can be a beautiful passage for those who understand that there is certainly something beyond it.”
x Freedom – Osho
In this read, Osho breaks down the three stages of freedom.
- “Freedom from” – this stage of freedom comes from shedding the “psychological slavery” outside forces (parents, society or religion) impose on a person.
- “Freedom for” – this stage is a positive form of freedom. Building fulfilling relationships with others and creating fulfilling influence.
- “Just freedom” – the highest and ultimate freedom. This last freedom is the freedom of simply being oneself and responding truthfully to every single moment. It is more than being for or against something.
(I honestly, recommend all of OSHO’s books – he encourages questioning your self through his reading)
x The Alchemist – Paolo Coelho
I love this book.
I always find myself reaching for it to read again.
This read is about Santiago, a shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of all the things he doesn’t posses. His journey is about the essential wisdom of listening to your heart, of recognizing opportunity and tuning into the signs the universe adds to your life’s path, and following your dreams.
x The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life – Mark Manson
(i bought this book twice – gave one away after reading it and bought another one).
This book is so real and basically says a big f**k you to positivity and “oh, here are some tips to staying happy”. Mark Manson doesn’t sugar coat anything and mostly says “Let’s be honest, shit is f**ked and we have to live with it.”
A much-needed grab-you-by-the-shoulders-and-look-you-in-the-eye moment of real-talk, filled with entertaining stories and profane, ruthless humor, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F**k is a refreshing slap for a generation to help them lead contented, grounded lives.
-> Mirror pep-talks
I do this most morning. When I’m feeling like I’ve been stepped on then peel from under the shoe (cringe but very true), I stand in front of my mirror and say what I like about myself. One of my recurring mirror talks is I am a total babe. I can do whatever the f**k I set my mind to do. Even if I am out of shape, I will still look in the mirror and love my boobs. (you can even write quirky notes on your mirror, you’ll have no choice but to look as you’re getting ready in the morning. It has some sort of magic boost.
->Social Media Cleanse
Staying away from social media as much as I can. I have social media anxiety (something I’ll get into in another post) so I give myself breaks from apps like IG.
->Relationships and Worthiness
I am worth more than gold and so is my time. I reckon I’ve let go half of my friends because I wasn’t a priority to them like they are to me. Same with letting go boyfriends or that FWB situationship.
-> FAILING doesn’t mean FAILURE
“Tempta Iterum, Iterum Cadere, Magis Deficere”. My Latin may be off but this basically is from the mind of Samuel Beckett, Try Again, Fail Again, Fail Better. Failure is my weapon – somedays it doesn’t feel like it. You berate yourself for making a mistake or you feel stupid for doing something wrong but realizing there’s always another day to right a wrong is what’s important. I have moments where I also a small bit of “failure” taint my entire day. Change that narrative, focus on what made you happy that day instead what you could’ve done right.
I am 25 now, each day is a learning curve, I’ve managed to build a growth mindset. Learn that failure is the opportunity to grow and that imperfection itself is perfection.
I never blame my mother for my upbringing – I may lack some things but the beauty of humanity is enlightenment. I continue to find myself through reading and through the people I meet.
Hope these tips help (even in the smallest way). If you would like more book recommendations, please let me know!
This vulnerable #monologue post was inspired by a poem I wrote – Reinvention//Stuck.