Imposter Syndrome

By: Marissa

Spring Break is over, and now it’s back to getting serious! Got to focus on getting this year done and out of the way, and getting ready for next year. I won’t lie, I am very nervous for next year, as I will, hopefully, be writing my thesis and getting the Hell out of here. I’m not saying that I don’t love it here, cause oh my God I do. I have not had more a glorious experience at a school, than I have had here. However, there are things that keep the majority of students from having a really great time here, especially academically. The biggest thing that does that to us, is this thing called Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is where you, a high-achieving individual, feels as if you are a fraud, a sham, a failure. It is where you feel as if you don’t deserve the success you have achieved, or where you can’t even accept the successes you have achieved. The thing is, with Imposter Syndrome, you don’t really discuss your feelings on the subject with others. For the fear of being discovered or seen as a fraud is more important than seeking validation, or even better, help.

I think what gives me the confidence to be able to write this is the fact that I have dealt with Imposter Syndrome for a very long time, not just in my years here at New College of Florida. When I was in elementary school and middle school, I was a very bright student. I still like to think I am, but back then, I felt like I actually knew it and I was confident in my abilities. Around the halfway mark of middle school, I transferred schools to a more demanding charter school on a college campus. I was surrounded by students that were brilliant! Even though I was lopped into that group through the eyes of my peers and mentors, taking high school level math courses in eighth grade, then transferring a year early to the college campus to take math courses.

Needless to say, I have had a lot of accomplishments to be proud of.  The part that freezes all that for me, and makes me feel useless, is I feel that because of my depression and anxiety, I don’t deserve to be at the level I am.

Last semester was a perfect example. I took a class with one of my favorite professors, titled “Religion & Gender.” I passed with flying colors, as my evaluations say, however, going through that class day to day was extremely difficult. Everyday I would walk into class, having something I wanted to discuss from the reading from the night before. I would sit and listen to everyone else first, then toss my ideas out the window. My papers in that class always received a satisfactory, and I always got good comments, but I always felt like a fraud being in that class.

I was the only first year in that class, and of course, the youngest. My peers had more time to really research and read more than I had been able to. There was one girl in the class who I looked up to the most, but made me feel the most insecure about myself. For sake of conversation, let’s call this person Joy.

Joy was very intelligent in this field. She would come to class everyday having something to say about the reading that was so detailed and backed up with information, that it blew my basic comprehension out of the water. I envied Joy for the longest time. One day my professor for that class, Dr. Marks, pulled me aside, realizing that I had issues speaking up in class. She gave me the best academic advice I feel like I have ever received, and that was to set lower expectations for myself, so when I achieve them, I will feel far better about myself, and will eventually be able to reach those higher goals with ease. Dr. Marks, when I told her how I felt about discussing things in class, how I felt about Joy and the other students, told me that basic is just fine. If I wanted to discuss how something made me feel or what I thought right off the bat after reading the first two paragraphs, that was perfectly fine. As long as I try.

As the next semester rolls around, I had the opprotunity to become closer with Joy, and we saw each other more often. One day I told her how I felt about having class with her the semester before, and how I felt being in that class. I told her how I thought she was very smart, but because of that I felt incompetent. She was taken aback, and visually shocked. She told me that she had felt the exact same way about me and what I had to say in that class, and she felt like she wasn’t good enough.

Needless to say, it was a funny encounter.

Imposter Syndrome affects probably every student at my school. I know for me, it really hits hard because I am moving twice the speed through the program, compared to the other first years. Instead of finishing the program in 4 years, I will be done in 2.

I’m already halfway through.

That being said, I feel as if I don’t deserve these achievements I have scored, and I could never be as good as other upper-years. But sometimes I have to take a step back and realized, I have kicked my own ass millions of times to get where I am, and I won’t let those ass kickings be for nothing. Not only that, but I will not let all those years of my mothers motivation be wasted on me failing because I didn’t feel good enough. Because dammit I am good enough, and so are you.

What makes you feel the most insecure? Work? School? Relationships?

Shoutout to New College of Florida for a great first year!


If you would like to read more in detail about Imposter Syndrome click here, to visit the American Psychological Association that has a great outline on what it means to have Imposter Syndrome.

Taking A Break…

For the past month at New College, we have this thing called an Independent Study Project (ISP). It is where we focus on a specific internship or project for a whole month to better ourselves through that specific task. My ISP is called NaNoWriMo, where I basically write a 40,000-50,000 word book in a month. Terrifying right? I have been trying to write as much as possible to be able to meet my word counts for the day. Everything seems to get more and more bleak as I continue. My hope for this project dwindles as we get closer to the end. It certainly is difficult trying to write everyday and not lose motivation.

My topic, specifically, is about mental health and my gender identity, and how it all meshes together. After all this time of writing, I am taking a break… To write more here. This journey of trying to write all these things has brought me to a point where I realize a lot of things, such as where I’ve been and how far I have come. When it is all in the moment, and you’re jotting down everything you have felt in the past seven years, it gets tough. You start to think, maybe I haven’t come that far at all. Maybe it is just another hole I am letting myself slip into. If you are a writer, and you focus mainly on mental health like I have, don’t fall into that hole. These past few weeks there have been days I haven’t slept, not only trying to get my word count in, but also trying to try and rationalize all my feelings that I have had developing inside me for all these years. It certainly is a great feeling to get it all out, but still. It’s all a work in progress. Life in general is… there I go! Rambling again…

Needless to say, it all gets better. I guess that is my main point in all the posts I make and all the things I try to elude to you all. It may seem tiring and upsetting right now, but it certainly does get better. I hope you all stay tuned with Miss Olivia, my new co-writer, and I, for all our future posts and endeavors!

Stress? More Like Time to Confess

Good morning dear followers! I hope your day is a good one, and if you are in school, I hope the beginning of the semester isn’t too stressful. *BAM!* Topic for the day: stress! See how I jumped in right there? Well here we go! I realize that stress for most people that are reading, may not entirely be stress from school. But I recognize that, that is my situation, and I am more than happy to discuss how I deal with such.

I will admit, I am not always the best dealing with stress. I think I have touched this subject before, but let me explain again. Over the past semester, I realize how much better I have gotten at dealing with such. I feel as though my inevitable push into the real world has really helped me find the resources I need, as well as find the best ways to deal with such issues. But I also now realize how much of this stress comes from within. And as I planned, my New Year’s resolution is to be more honest with others and with myself in order to help relieve some of this stress (as well as be more present on this blog).

Recently, I was upfront and honest with my parents about an issue that had been causing me deep and profound stress for years. Soon, I would like to be honest with all of you about this issue, just now is not the right time [check back again soon ;)]. Never the less, this brought me more inner peace than I could have ever asked for. Sometimes that is all it takes, is to be open and honest, no matter what. Doing what is best for me, has taken me years to try and understand, comprehend, and execute.

But! Don’t think of it as a chore. There are simple things you can do everyday to take time for yourself, to relax.

  • Sip some tea,
  • Take a bath,
  • Read a book,
  • Take a walk (did you know that a 10 minute walk can help boost creativity?),
  • Talk to someone you love about what bothers you,
  • Sit alone and enjoy the sun,
  • Organize your room or office,
  • Write down a poem, a feeling, anything!

These are somethings that I know would help me on any given day. Try one or two! In the end, stress is inevitable. However, how you deal with it and how you change your life because of it, is how you can either make it better… or worse.

What helps you destress?

 

Hammock, Coffee, and Cold Nights

I missed y’all so much. I’ve been wanting to post for so long, but haven’t found the time. I am truly sorry. But I am here now and I hope everyone has been doing well. I hope you’ve been drinking enough water and getting rest.

So on campus, they had enough funding to buy 10 brand spanking new hammocks! Like wow. This campus is so beautiful and finally being able to spend time outside in this wonderful weather in a comfy seat is glorious. Especially in the morning when the weather is just right, chilling with my coffee and writing my feelings down. It is small things like this that just make you want to think about things, and boy have I been thinking about a lot. There has been so much that has been going on in life honestly. Nothing bad really, quite the opposite. Just a lot of overthinking and stress that makes me worry about having another panic attack.

But I am not that worried.

See the thing is, by me taking all this time to myself, which I don’t do too often, I have been able to reduce a lot of the stress that I have. Taking this time to myself to think and just sit and get the work I have to get done, done, has reduced my stress exponentially. Sure, I’ll have moments of sadness and wanting to pull my hair out, but it is no where as bad as it was. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices in some parts of your life to aid other parts of your life. I have finally made myself routines to try and manage everything that I have come across. Social life, studying, sleep. It all fits in somewhere, but sometimes you have to sacrifice one to help the other.

I am absolutely gracious for the family, friends, and wonderful faculty at my school, that will take the time out of their day to actually pull me aside and make sure I am managing my anxiety, and that I am excelling in school as I should be.

What do you do to reduce stress?

High Expectations

Good afternoon everyone! I hope this Monday has been a good one for you. I started this morning with doing some laundry, coffee, and some good ‘ole organization. I also took the time to reflect on past weeks and how I have been doing.

Last Monday I had a meeting with one of my professors about my approach to the readings in her class. I have realized, making the transition from community college to legitimate college, has been easier than I had hoped. What really has been difficult though is trying to understand the language used. And I vocalized these feelings to her, and you know what she said?

“You need to lower your expectations for yourself!”

WHAT? Me? Lower my expectations? How could I ? I know what I am capable of. But goodness later that day I realized she was right. Not just did she mean lower my expectations for myself academically, but also emotionally.

At 5:00 pm on September 19, 2016, I had my first severe panic attack. I began trembling at first, shallow breathing, feeling like everything was caving in, then came the uncontrollable crying. I was on the bathroom floor surrounded by my roommate and my two best friends, holding me while I cried. As far as I remember, I couldn’t talk, couldn’t think, which is probably why I don’t remember what happened for that hour.

I kept quiet about it for awhile because I didn’t want people to think that I couldn’t handle what was placed in front of me (school, relationships, changes in general). But I need to realize that I am not always 100% okay or capable of being perfect all that time. I, and a lot of people, need to lower our expectations, and give ourselves room to breathe and understand that we aren’t always where we want to be. I’m allowed to cry as much as I need, I’m allowed to have breakdowns, YOU are allowed to cry, YOU are allowed to breakdown. Just don’t apologize for it. That was something I realized while all this was happening, was that I seemed to apologize a lot when it was all coming down. Why should you apologize for expressing your feelings? Stand strong, cry if you need to, but you don’t need to apologize.

BREATHE. You got this.

 

Eternally Thankful

Upon, finally, coming back on this site to try and compose a compelling blog post, I glance at my stats page.. 192 views on my last post, “Coming Out… Again?.” People, I don’t think you understand where this puts me mentally. Sure, it may not be the biggest population of people, but it is a start for me. For years I have feared that I could never make it as a writer, much less someone who blogs about life and my mental illness. At my college though, I am actually taking a course called Writing About Writing, and the course material and concept is pretty explanatory. In the course I have proven to myself that I can write, and I can write well. It just takes time to advance my skills.

I want to thank everyone who has subscribed to my articles, everyone whose read, commented, and liked my posts. I would like to know what else everyone would like to read about! What can I do to continue helping you?

Much love, Blessed Be

Advice from Mama

“We live in a society, that’s not always accepting of who you are. You need to be able to take the pain. But, you need to remember that your going to be who you are, and no one can change that.” -August 19, 2011, courtesy of Facebook’s ‘On This Day’

Whether it connects with you through mental health disorders, personality, religious preferences, sexual and/or romantic orientation, etc., I believe it stands true with everyone. Ever since I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, I felt so different from everyone else. I felt rejected by those who knew, and the anxiety kicked in when I had to tell those who needed to know.

I go to a school now, that I don’t have to worry about that. The people I have met, and the people I have known before and have the honor to be friends with, and even the people I don’t really know, are so accepting, so loving. I have never felt so at peace with my life then where I am now. Granted, yes, I have to write a thesis next year. Yes, the course load will be difficult. But that is a story for another time. Before I got here, I was extremely worried about my social life. Will I fit in? Will I get looked up and down? Will people judge me? Etc. Etc. But now, I am so happy to be a part of this family that everyone looks out for each other. Granted, yes, it is college, and there will always be some social “bumps”, so to say.

I have to remember that I am going to be who I am going to be, and no one can change that. As long as I stay true to myself, I know everything will be okay.

If you went to college, what was your experience like?

A Fresh-ish Start

For the past week I have been pressing on in my college journey. Moving in, doing orientation activities and games, as well as being around all my new classmates. It has honestly been quite the experience, and quite the stressful one as well. While I usually am able to adapt to new situations easily, this one is a little different. Sure, I’m only 20 miles down the road from home, why should I feel homesick? I didn’t feel the anxiety I feel now, snuggled up in MY bed.

But, I digress. I am excited to get started into the school year and continue on with my journey. I have met a lot of new people, seen a couple great friends, it has been amazing. Granted, I haven’t even called home in the past few days because of all the exciting things going on. After taking what we call “Mini-Classes” today, I realize the stress I am under and how tough this is going to be.

This step though has certainly made me think more and more about my depression. How am I going to make sure I take my medicine? How am I going to react when things don’t go the way I want them to? How bad is my anxiety going to get? This is going to get pretty rough, but lets see how it goes…

How bad did everything feel for you when a big step came around?

An Open Letter to My Fellow Students

Hey there. It’s me. The person you may know really well, or only see my face in the hallway. Either way, hi. I hope you are doing well with either adjusting to your new environment or preparing to step onto that campus for the first time. I’m right there with you so there isn’t much advice I can honestly offer about preparing for this. It’s going to be crazy. I went to community college for two years, so it definitely wont be the same as university so I am about just as nervous as you. I just wanted to take the time out to talk a little bit about self-love type stuff.

Pretty soon, we are all about to go our separate ways. Tomorrow morning in fact, I am loading up a van with all my stuff and I’m moving 20 miles away for college. Some people I know are crossing a couple towns, crossing Florida, or even crossing the country for college. That can be pretty far for some people when things get rough. Not having our family around at all after being with them day in and day out will definitely be a game changer, and instead of family you have people you probably don’t even know.

Don’t stress. I know I am probably repeating the things that give you anxiety about moving away, but don’t worry. You’ll find your place soon enough, and get comfortable. I guess the bottom line here is, remember to take time out for yourself. Between studying and school functions and more studying and classes and then more studying, you’re probably going to feel overwhelmed. Nothing a cup of tea and reading can’t fix. Like I said, I can’t compare too much because I went to community college which is nothing like university, but the premise is still the same. Don’t overload yourself. Don’t burn yourself out.

To all my friends that I have, I am so proud of each of you. I am so proud of what you will accomplish, and I can’t wait to see you soon. Stay in touch, and remember if you ever need me I am here.

To all my friends I will make, I can’t wait to meet you. I can’t wait to share this new experience with all of you, and see where the future takes us all. Also, stay in touch with me too. I know we are all experiencing this together, so if you need me I am here.

To the people at my new school I may never talk to, I hope you do great things, stay strong, and do your best.

 

A New Stage with Average Lighting

I actually had to pull my hair back for this post because it’s about to get serious.

In all honesty, I am not ready for my future. I realized this today as I was FaceTiming my best friend who is starting her official college life at UCF. She was so pumped and ready to go, yet still worried about finally being on her own. She typically handles things pretty well, so I am confident that she can do it. Watching her talk about the campus and how excited she was though, was just the start of my rapid emotional decline in the past 20 minutes.

I got to talk to my three new lovely roommates today, and I’m not feeling too bad about that. I can tell that they will be good friends to me. Then anxiety comes creeping up.. What if I’m really not that funny, or a decent person to live with? What if my depression hinders our friendship and I become a lump that eats everyone’s food and sits in my room all the time when I am not in classes?

If it wasn’t blatantly obvious enough, I don’t handle change well. Most of it I keep in a jar on my counter … See? Terrible puns… But in all seriousness, I don’t. Ever since the divorce between my parents, any change, is difficult. Whether it was moving from house to house, from middle school to high school to college, no matter what it was, it was an open gash to more anxiety and depressed moments. The change from community college to a serious, “buckle and knuckle down”, college has got me terrified. Part of me is more terrified because I know I am a terrible studier. This is evident by me being one point away from a scholarship on a standardized test. I don’t care if I scored higher than the national average, I didn’t score high enough to make myself proud. What if those habits continue? What if I flunk out??

I have so much I want to do in my short life. Learn things, travel, get married, get a fantastic job and change at least one persons life. My anxiety and my depression blur those dreams, and it hurts me when those feelings creep up. I want to have a successful college career, I want to have a successful job, and have my love life flourish with the man I love. How long though do I have to suffer thinking that it will never happen? Am I doomed to have this depression the rest of my life, keeping me from ever making a change in my life that may be for the better?

I am the director of my life. I can change that script to make something happen to help the plot. But to be safe, I wont. I wont make a change because I am scared I will lose the will to keep watching. Maybe the future brings new lighting to the stage and we shall see where we go. Maybe I just need more dancing… singing… the small joys…

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