Thursday, November 3, 2016

The Confidence Chronicles

It's currently 5:30 on a Thursday evening and I've already showered and climbed in bed. If it wasn't so early, I would have already taken a benadryl too.

That's the perks of having a compromised immune system; rashes and extreme itching will come out of nowhere and stay for days.

Don't know why.

And yet, I lay here and find myself either wishing for it to go away or for it to get worse because that's the only two options I have.

Adele is sitting here looking at me, wondering why we aren't on the couch or outside on a walk. Thankfully, we had a puppy play date this morning!

It's amazing how less stressed I am with her around. I don't think people understand that the security of having her with me is the number 1 thing I love most and appreciate most about her.

Life has been crazy since I've last written and it'll be like this for the next year.

But one thing that happened this week has stuck out more than anything else.
I had my supervisor tell me something that caught me off guard.

He said, "I'm going to ask you a personal question. Do you think you're intelligent?"
I paused and so many thoughts rattled in my brain.
Where is this going? Did I screw up a session? Does he not think I'm intelligent? Is this a trick question? What do I say, do I tell him the truth? Really, where is this going because I cannot read him right now?

And because I was caught so off guard, I said in grand Kara fashion, "Well, I wasn't in gifted and talented when I was in school" and he laughed and said, "that's not what I asked"

I sat there and after a minute I finally said, "It depends on the day"
He said, 'That's what I thought"
Once again, I'm sitting there with absolutely no idea where this is heading and he begins to ask me another question.

He says, "what makes you a good psychologist?"

Well damn. There goes my easy supervision session out the window. Here I am thinking that maybe he'll tie in the intelligence thing with following my gut in session and we'll wrap it up and I'll go on my way.

Nope. An hour later and I come out of one of the best supervision sessions I've ever had, completely blown away.

Now you're probably wondering what was said in response to the questions and I'm not going to tell you everything, but I'll tell you what's applicable to the post.

It came around full circle, back to the intelligence question. He wanted me to know that he thought I was an intelligent person and that's one of the things that makes me a good psychologist, but that he knew I didn't fully believe I was an intelligent person.

Basically, he wanted me to know that he knew what the little voices in my head tell me all the time.

He said, "you're an intelligent woman and I want you to grow into the person, the intelligent psychologist that you already are". And yes, that's word for word because he made me write it down.

He also told me that I needed to figure out what was holding me back from truly believing it, which is why I'm sharing all of this with you.

Any given day, my anxiety or health can get the best of me. But after 25 years, I've learned to become a good actress. Like, I bet none of you knew (the ones I didn't tell) that I have literally been dying to scratch my skin off for over 6 days or that I haven't taken my muscle relaxer in 5 nights and my hands are so stiff I could play the perfect robot right now. And if you could tell, you need to let me know because I need to up my game.

I've become an imposter.

I bet you know where this is going now!

You could walk into a graduate classroom and ask if anyone has ever felt like they don't/shouldn't belong and I bet you 10 dollars that every single hand will go up. Every. Single. Hand.

Within the last week, I can't count how many times I've had conversations with people and this has come up.

The imposter syndrome.

It's real!

When successful people don't feel that they are smart enough or feel like all of their success is due to luck and not hard work, they begin to feel like an imposter.

You can ask me one day and I'll say I love being here, I truly feel like I belong, that I'm proud to be a doctoral student, and that I feel like I know what I'm doing.

Ask me the next day and I'll tell you I'm losing it, I have no idea what I'm doing, I hope I passed that exam, I hope I can make it through my milestones, and graduate on time before they realize I know nothing.

But I don't know nothing. I'm an intelligent woman....or so my supervisor says. No, I am. I think?

It's the struggle to believe that you belong constantly fighting the thoughts that you aren't good enough.

Who put that in our heads?

Did you know that the National Center for Education Statistics reported that 5% of graduate students reported having a disability. Did you know that only 31% of students with disabilities who graduate high school even go to college?

So you might read that and think, "oh my gosh that's awesome, you've made it so far" and I'm sitting here thinking "only 5% make it, you're going to fail, you're going to get sick and have to leave, you aren't good enough to be in that 5% because what have you done to get here, now you're using your disability as an excuse, you need to stop thinking that you're qualified to be considered in this category, you know nothing jon snow"

Those are the thoughts that I have.

So I put those thoughts in my head. I put pressure on myself to be perfect, to succeed, to make a difference, and to prove that my professor made the right choice in admitting me into this program.
I'm the one comparing myself to others and allowing myself to feel like an imposter, when in reality, I deserve to be here. I put in the work, the time, the tears, and the money.

I am not an imposter.
I am an intelligent woman.
She says confidently.

Or is that just the imposter speaking?

I guess that's just something I still need to figure out, stay tuned for more!