Breaking Out of Impostor Syndrome

By Lauren Piskothy

My stomach was turned inside out. As I sat in the cozy theater at the St. Augustine Film Festival, watching myself on the screen, performing in a comedy sketch show I spent months on end stressing about and perfecting, the room filling with laughter by strangers and my loved ones alike, and yet I could not help but wonder: maybe this is all just a fluke.

 This is just one of many times instead of appreciating an achievement, I’ve questioned whether or not it was earned, or if my success was some sort of happy accident. It wasn’t until recently I realized that I am not alone in feeling like a fraud.

 According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of young people feel like impostors, otherwise known as “Impostor Syndrome”.

The truth is, we all feel like frauds because we have somehow grown to measure our self-worth through productivity and tangible ideas of success, but there is much more to us than what can fit on a resume.

Yet we have convinced ourselves that we should spend all of our free time focusing on things we could do to get ahead, whether it’s in school, an internship, or a new job, and it is still not enough to convince us we are worthy of our accomplishments.

We have grown accustomed to a society where mental health has taken a back door. It is interesting to me that 70% of young people all feel the same way, and yet we collectively sit in our own self-doubt, completely unaware that the person next to us is doing the exact same thing.

 The American Psychological Association notes in a cover story addressing Impostor Syndrome that most people do not share these feelings with others because they’re ashamed.

I know I was too and still am on a bad day.

The past few months of school, I have been writing, directing, filming, and editing a sketch comedy show with just my friend, Reilly Shanahan to help, have been applying to graduate programs, been in a wonderful long-distance relationship, and have had to take classes as well.

If I’m honest with myself, despite all of the great things happening in my life, I had extremely low points and all of my worst moments were fueled by one thing: not feeling like enough. The more I reflect the more I realize that at moments I felt like an impostor in every aspect of my life:

Am I funny enough? Am I good enough girlfriend? Am I capable enough to get into grad school? Am I smart enough?

These thoughts and many more like them would repeat over and over, when they weren’t at the forefront of my mind, they lingered in the background. And yet I thought the remedy was to be productive, to spend all of my free time entertaining my self-doubt, re-writing, planning, organizing, never giving myself a break.

It wasn’t until the semester ended and I had run out of ways to be productive that I realized how exhausted I was. Had I not felt the need to fill in the gaps in my day with productivity, I could have taken the time to be with myself.

I am well aware that I do not have any real problems, if anything I have only created my own problems. Many other people have it worse than me, but no matter our circumstances, we all deserve to talk openly about what is going on in our heads.

The only way to not feel like an impostor is to recognize that we all feel lost sometimes, but if we don’t take the time to be with ourselves and share with others, we’ll remain our own worst enemies.

It’s not something that we can change overnight. But if we take every thing one day at a time, we can start a conversation and stop becoming our own worst enemies.

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