The Imposter Inside

Have you ever felt like you were a fraud? Perhaps you questioned your own knowledge in your field or position. Maybe you were anxious that someone would discover that you were just “faking it until you make it.” These are all signs of a phenomenon known as IMPOSTER SYNDROME and you are not alone.

This year has been particularly tough for most people as everyone’s lives changed drastically with the pandemic. This has caused even more people to look critically at themselves. Recently, I myself became nearly paralyzed by imposter syndrome. I started a new, temporary, job in the technical theatre industry, which I haven’t worked in in almost 10 years, launched the internship program at Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife, and continued on my own professional development journey as a graduate student. Up until now, I had felt rather comfortable, confident even, in my decision to leave my career as a classroom teacher to purse my Big Audacious Goal of opening an ecotherapy center. Suddenly, however, I felt like I must have flown under the radar to get accepted into my graduate program and that I had made it this far by a streak of good luck. I was terrified that any day now my luck would run out and someone would realize that they had made a mistake and I would be busted as an imposter!

So why on earth would I turn around and out myself like this?

Last week I had a conversation with some of my peers, turns out this feeling is pretty universal and most people experience it at some point. Through talking about my feelings I was able to process what was going on deeper within and gained a better understanding as to why this common condition was flaring up so viscously for me.

For many years I had a deeply rooted belief that I was worthless, useless, and undeserving. It wasn’t until the last few years that I was able to start to breakdown these beliefs by reframing my thinking (I will do a post in the future explaining what that means). I spent the majority of my life discounting myself and my achievements because I didn’t feel or think I was worthy of success and recognition. This affected me to the point that if you thanked me for something as simple as setting up the desks for class, I would reject your appreciation and tell you why I did it for self-serving reasons. As a result of this constant self-depreciation, I have a skewed view of my qualifications and abilities but I am working on changing that. I realized that I have spent my whole life trying to prove my worth and not spent enough time reflecting on the value of everything I have done, accomplished.

Yes, I could continue to discount myself by measuring myself against everything I haven’t done, but there will always be more to do and no one is a master of all things. I am choosing to focus on what I have done rather then what I haven’t. As for the “streak of good luck”, Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. This means that if I hadn’t put in the work upfront I wouldn’t be able to seize the opportunities I have when they present.

The only imposter is the voice inside telling me I am not worthy and its time that voice shuts up. I’m making a commitment to myself to spend time each week reflecting on something I have accomplished and recognizing myself for the hard work I did to do it. Sometimes these accomplishments may be small but I will write them each down and when the imposter inside begins to creep back up I will have a quick reference of the evidence proving to myself that I am not a fraud, I am a badass!

What is something you have accomplished that you should give yourself more credit for? Comment below and let’s practice some praise with each other!

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Bibliotherapy- Rebuilding Sergeant Peck: How I Put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan

Title: Rebuilding Sergeant Peck; How I Put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan 

Author: John Peck, Dava Guerin, and Terry Bivens 

Genre: Non-Fiction, Memoir 

Length: 216 Pages 

Publish Date: 2019 

Tags/Triggers: Mental Health, Military Service, Suicidal Ideation, Physical Injury, Traumatic Brain Injury 

Born in 1985 to a single mom, John Peck was destined for military service. Throughout his childhood he remained resilient despite repeated physical and emotional abuse, family financial struggles and homelessness. However, he continued to persevere and achieve his dreams. In 2005, Peck joined the Marines. Little did he know just how much it would change his life, in ways he could never have imagined.  

Not long after enlisting, Lance Corporal Peck was sent on his first deployment to Iraq. There he spent his time patrolling the area in order to network with the locals and complete searches to gather intelligence on terrorist cells. During one of these patrols his vehicle rolled over a pressure plate triggering an improvised explosive device (IED).This incident resulted in a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that promptly ended his deployment and nearly ended his military career. 

The TBI that Lance Corporal Peck received caused much more than just momentary confusion. He spent years undergoing evaluations and rehabilitation to learn how to live with the resulting memory and motor damage. With lots of hard work and support, he was able to prove that he was still capable of being a fully functioning Marine with minimal accommodations. In 2009, he reenlisted with the hope of once again being deployed and a year later was sent to Afghanistan.  

On May 24th John stepped squarely on the missed device and instantly lost both legs and his right arm. While his left arm was still attached, it was severely injured which would eventually result in it too being surgically removed. 

John spent months being stabilized. Every conscious moment, he begged the medical staff to let him die. Between the pain and reality of his new disability he could not imagine there was any purpose in his life. It wasn’t until he witnessed others overcoming similar injuries and living fulfilling lives that he began to see a future for himself as well.  

He began to build his network of support, and the more people he connected with the more meaning he saw in his life. When he realized that leaving his darkness behind was helping others do the same, he became even more motivated to regain his independence. As he began to be an active participant in his treatment, he earned a new rank: Sergeant. In this leadership role, he reflected on all the trauma he had overcome thus far and was determined to dig within himself and awaken that same perseverance and resilience he’d had as a child. John began to advocate for himself and take his new challenges head on, leading to his to becoming the first successful recipient of a double arm transplant. 

Rebuilding Sergeant Peck; How I put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan reminds us that despite the complexities that come with managing disabilities everyone is capable of living a fulfilling and purposeful life. It is a great read for anyone facing challenges in their lives be they physical, such as the loss of a limb, or mental, such as depression and anxiety. I recommend it to anyone who is looking for an inspirational page turner. “Rebuilding Sergeant Peck; How I put Body and Soul Back Together After Afghanistan” challenged me to look for opportunities for growth within problems I experience and to recognize that life is more than the events that make it up. It is okay to feel despair in the face of suffering, yet remember that it is only a part of your story. Life doesn’t always happen the way we expect, and living with that uncertainty is something we all have face.  

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases of the items linked in my post.

Bibliotherapy

The Oxford Dictionary defines bibliotherapy as “the use of books as therapy in the treatment of mental or psychological disorders.” While at the surface it may just sound like a fancy word for reading self-help books, it is much more! Bibliotherapy the practice, has been around longer then the word itself. In ancient Greece libraries were known as places to heal the soul. Ancient Greeks embraced the power of catharsis. Today many people unknowingly practice bibliotherapy and several mental health professionals utilize it with their clients.  

Reading can be therapeutic in a number of ways. Not only can we learn skills and strategies to overcome obstacles when we read, we can also safely explore emotions, feel validated and connected, and more. Not every book provides the same experience for every reader, the more we identify with the characters or scenarios the more beneficial it tends to be.  

Reading can absolutely be a form of self-care and I will be sharing with you things that I have read and found to have potential therapeutic benefit. While bibliotherapy is something you can explore independently there is the chance that certain books could trigger difficult feelings. In all my reviews I will list things that I have identified as possible triggers. If while reading if you become overwhelmed please do not hesitate to reach out to a professional to help you through processing your feelings.  

Bibliotherapy Book Reviews

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