Not sure if Imposter Syndrome, or actual Imposter
So, it’s been a rough year in Teacher Land for me. Since my last post, I’ve had 2 staffroom changes, multiple class changes, much stress, and many tears. But it hasn’t been all bad. I’ve gotten to do some great stuff with my year 7 tech class, playing … ahem … teaching them about robotics and going through the process of designing a maze and coding programs in order for their little robots to complete the labyrinth. I’ve taught Coraline – ALL THE GAIMAN!!! I’ve explored some fantastic new ways to engage students using technology, and played with Google Apps, O365, shared notebooks, and a whole lot of other great activities that have reminded me about why I love teaching. But I still missed the library.
People kept reassuring me it would be ok. “A library position will come up soon”, they’d say. “The right library for you will come along.” And for ages I just gritted my teeth and smiled. Because I’d found that one, and now it was someone else’s. Eventually though, the pain lessened. I started to get excited about the opportunity to make my mark on a new library, and spread my wings in a new school. The clincher was when one of my year 7 kids mentioned his birthday, and I realised that I’ve been at Evans for as long as he’s been alive. Perhaps everyone is right. It really -is- time for a change.
So I started keeping an eye out on the job ads. Some started to appear, but in the back of my head there was that niggly little annoying voice, questioning whether I’m as good as everyone seems to think I am. My confidence in my TL abilities had taken a bit of a beating. But I continued, because dammit I want to be in a library. It’s what I’m meant to be doing. It’s where I’m supposed to be.
I’ve always struggled with Imposter Syndrome. I frequently make excuses for my success, and I have always been fearful that someone will expose me for the fraud I assume I am. Not quite qualified enough. Not nearly experienced enough. Not -something- enough. It’s a fear that dogs me whenever I present at conferences and workshops, a crippling anxiety that has, in the past, seen me convinced that my appendix were about to burst and was seconds away from calling an ambulance … but no, once my keynote presentation was done, the anxiety diminished, and I realised that it was in fact just my terror tearing my insides apart.
So today, I faced something that I would have previously considered terrifying on a massive scale. I had a job interview. One for a position I really want, in a school I really really REALLY want to work in. My application was excellent, I was as prepared as I could possibly be for the interview, and I headed off this morning feeling a little anxious. But that was it. A few nerves. No crippling pain. No panic-stricken hyperventilation. No terror that they’d ask me something that I felt completely incapable of answering. Just some totally understandable nerves.
I’m not quite sure how that happened. How I got past my Imposter Syndrome. I think it was the combination of a few things, to be honest. The constant reassurances of my wonderful partner, who can tell when I’m getting inside my own head and knows just what to say to me to ease me through it. The opportunity to contribute to some wonderful professional dialogue at a conference recently and realise that my voice, my stories, my ideas were valued not because I was on stage so people had to listen to me, but because people actually respected my opinions and experiences. The colleagues who read my application, reassured me that it was good, and shared their confidence in me. The seemingly small but incredibly valuable pieces of advice from old friends and new that helped me recognise and embrace some of my own confidence, my belief in myself, and my belief in my own strength. If you haven’t watched it yet, check out the TED Talk below on how your body language can impact how you feel – Wonder Woman pose, y’all! Whatever it was, it felt good. To walk out the door after the interview feeling like I not only had done a great job articulating why I’m the best person for the job, but actually believing it.
I don’t know how it went yet. And it’ll be a couple of weeks before I can share the news on this position even if it’s mine. But in many ways, that won’t really be the celebratory outcome for this event. I’m celebrating a win over anxiety. I’m staking a claim to some freedom from fear. I’m sure it’ll rear its ugly head again – we’ve got a good relationship going on. But for today, my anxiety was my bitch. I’m no-one’s imposter. And it feels good. It feels really good.