Thanks to the COVID-19 and lock-downs and quarantines and the #stayhomestaysafe campaigns, I was allowed to sit down and go into deep self-introspective sessions, this led me to discover that I have been suffering from impostor syndrome for most of my life.
I have always known that there was something that not quite right about how I’ve viewed myself. It is not like I am constantly thinking negatively about myself, there has always been a small negative voice that appears when things are going great for me. This voice would invade my joy and ask me what I was going to do when people discover that I am not who they think I am.
My first experience
My earliest memory of this terrible voice was when I had just moved from Botlokwa, Limpopo (My birthplace) to finally live with my mother in Johannesburg. It was a big deal for me, this meant I got to have access to the world that I have only seen on TV, I had visited Johannesburg several times before but now I was going to a part of Johannesburg and not just a visitor.
The voice came and told me that I do not deserve to be there and sooner or later everyone will realize that I do not deserve to be there and I would be sent back to Botlokwa. The stigma around village people was quite rife at the time, so the little bullying I experienced during my first year in Johannesburg only made things worse. I was only 9 years old at the time.
The second time the voice visited me was when I started high school, see, my primary school was small and unpopular, it was based in the same township I lived in, and believe me, the kids who took buses and taxis to other schools were envied. I did not have an issue with the primary school I attended at all, it was the perfect transition for me as I went from slow and predictable village life to the fast city life. Now the high school I attended was one of the most popular in our side of the city. I remember feeling a wave of anxiety after my first day of high school, I was sure that I have been lucky in primary but this time around I’m definitely going to be exposed, someone is going to figure out that my application form landed on the wrong pile and that I only got in by sheer luck.
How the impostor syndrome affected my career
This crippling feeling followed me and stayed with me in my adult years. From the outside, my career growth is quite solid. I achieved my childhood dream of working in Television, I started out as an extras coordinator, and now here I am, a full-on TV Producer. I worked on shows that won major awards in South African. When I stop and do some self-introspection I find myself in aw, I really did it! I would think to myself.
However the thought of me being where I am today because of luck and that if I was compared to other people I would surely not shine as bright.
The impostor syndrome has led me to be an over worker. When I landed a job great job, I would find myself overworking myself. I would be the first one in the office and the last out of the office. I would subconsciously try to prove that I deserve to be where I am, mostly I would be trying to prove this to myself.
Now That I have discovered my problem…
Now that I have discovered my problem, I give myself regular pep talks.
I worked hard to be here, I deserve this opportunity, I know this because no one has ever told me that they hired me or given me an opportunity by mistake.
Do you have any impostor syndrome stories to share?