Impostor Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which a person always feels and believes that she/ he is inadequate and an incompetent failure despite his/ her achievements. This syndrome is common in a high-achiever personality, even Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein had it. It can affect not only the talented and intelligent people, but anyone, anyone can have factors in their backgrounds why they have it, for example, what happened to them in their childhood, did the parents always doubt them, compare them to other kids, etc.
I think I am one of the imposters, I’ve known it for so long that I have the tendency to feel that I’m always not good enough and always far from what I want to become, and always feel that if I achieve something, it’s because of luck, not because I have the ability to deserve it. But I didn’t know that it has a psychological term.
This also stems from my childhood and by the way I was treated by people close to me (adults) at that time. For example, when I won some competitions (from English speech contest, drawing, scholarships, academic achievements, etc), I was always told to be grateful because all of them happened because of the help of other people or coincidence–whether it’s God’s help, or my brother’s help, or that I competed in a low-level competition, etc–instead of acknowledging my ability and hard work for it. My parents perhaps did this without negative intention, it’s because they didn’t want me to be an arrogant and cocky person. So they always told me to thank other parties for my achievements, because without them I would never be able to do that.
It may seem tricky from the surface because people wouldn’t guess people like me–who put herself out to the world in so many platforms–are actually doubting ourselves. If you’re doubtful of yourself, then why you’re so confident to put yourself out there?
Well, in my case, this ‘confidence’ wall is myself fighting against myself. One part of me is the somewhat destructive imposter that always makes me want to hold back my ideas, works and creations, and just throw them away or hide them. This side of me is the one who’s always pushing the standards for me to achieve which sometimes can be good, but also harmful when I let it in total control. I remember when I was in school, I tended to avoid teachers’ attention by never speaking up about my opinions. I always told other kids first, and then others would claim that the ideas/ works were theirs. I was just the invisible student, people knew me just because I was funny, not because I could think or make something.
The other part of me is the one who realizes that this should not let to happen all the time, this part of me is the one who realizes that it was the reason why I felt unhappy about myself and she has to do something about it. The first part of me always waits for perfection, the second is the one who will just launch something without waiting for it to be perfect. Both sides have their own plus points for me.
The second always protects me from self-hating by asking me to do something different from what I always do. Especially when I really like something/ someone so much, I tend to feel I’m not good enough. So the second personality will take over and say, “Let’s take a break from it for a moment and do other stuff.” Blogging and other kinds of documentation of my life are examples of it.
That was the reason why I started blogging in 2009, it was not for other people’s amusement, it’s for myself to look back and to counter from the feeling of haven’t achieved anything. This time it’s playing ukelele.
A few weeks ago I bought an ukelele, well I actually got it for free by redeeming my points on an online marketplace, I only paid for the shipping. I could have chosen something else among the options, but I thought that I dont have musical skills at all and my brain is very bad at multitasking (that’s why I found it very hard to play musical instrument), so I want to train my brain. And it’s not something that I’m obsessed with, if I fail, it doesnt matter because it’s not my passion. I have no goals to achieve in it. And if I can play it, then it’s good, it’s just a bonus from a side activity. No pressure to achieve anything.
So I was very happy the first time I was able to play the first song I learned, “Somewhere Over The Rainbow”. At first, I didnt even know which hand to play the chords and which one to strum the strings. Then I progress to develop a muscle memory to coordinate my hands but still couldn’t sing along while playing. Then I finally can sing along while I play. From one song, then I learned other songs to add to my library. (Watch me play ukulele in my IG‘s highlighted stories)
This maybe is just a simple little thing, but for me it has helped me to feel good because I’d never thought I would be able to play any instrument in my life. Maybe also because I set no expectation.
I know many people have impostor syndrome as well, and my advice is to take a break and have a getaway with something you set no expectation of. Just do it.