Imposter Syndrome- It can be so easy to doubt yourself and think you’re not good enough.
Cate Knight documents her struggles and how some people have used that to their advantage.
Deep down I guess I know I’m not utterly useless. I wouldn’t be where I am if that were the case. My grounding in CBT allows me to acknowledge the fallacy of certain statements through sheer weight of evidence, but there are areas in life where things are purely subjective. This is where “She” comes into play. The Imposter.
I interviewed for 3 teaching jobs in one day as an NQT. I was offered all 3. It was a heady buzz!! I was one of the later members of my cohort to get a position & had been waiting for something that “felt” right.
The night that I accepted my first position as head of music was brilliant. My parents opened bubbly! I was thrilled.
Two days later a letter from the school arrived. It politely informed me that the position was NOT head of music as stated and I would NOT be given a TLR for the post. Suddenly “her” voice was there:
“What? Did you really think someone would give YOU responsibility? They probably realised they had made a mistake hiring you as soon as you left the interview!!”
That night I cried as if my heart would break. The sparkle left me and instead I viewed my approaching September start with trepidation.
It actually turned out that I LOVED my job!! Everyone seemed pleased with me. At first. But then I had a few wobbles. Forgetting to sign homework diaries in form. Getting locked in school because I stayed too late. I began to apologise as soon as I opened my mouth.
“Sorry for being a pain”
“Sorry for asking so many questions”
“Sorry but I don’t know how to do that”
“Sorry, you must be so fed up of me”
The imposter was getting all the sustenance she needed. I fed her insecurities daily by taking on culpability for anything and everything.
People tried to be kind, to help me, to lift me but, as is ever the case in life, one or two saw my under confidence as an opportunity. The buck would get passed in my direction because people knew I would accept it and apologise for not having offered in the first place.
The voice in my head kept on at me:
“Why are you so tired? Others manage ok!!”
“It’s no wonder your ex left you for someone with their s*it together”
“You can’t even do this when people are being KIND to you! You are never going to survive”
And the next thing I knew, the imposter was inviting her friend, the black dog, to stay.
Teaching is a tough job even when you are buoyant, fresh and full of enthusiasm. When you are clinically depressed it becomes a millstone, strangling, drowning and dragging you down.
The imposter voice became louder than my own:
“No one likes you! They’re being polite”
“You are a rubbish musician! Just shut up and stop making people endure your playing/singing”
“The kids don’t really enjoy your lessons it’s just that they think Music is a ‘doss’”
“You’re weird. Different. Just give up already!”
The self critiquing required in teaching is a brilliant skillset to have. It makes us excellent learners. But… It also gives Ms Imposter a platform and a microphone.
In performance reviews, inspections, observations people would ask:
“So what did you think of the lesson?”
And she would crow internally with delight and proceed to rip everything to shreds mercilessly.
I have therefore, spent most of my teenage/adult life feeling a bit inadequate.
Invidious comparisons do not help and I have grown within a culture of media that has embraced these far too much. Celebrity TV, beauty shows, competitive reality shows… all left me feeling like I had simply not been given the right manual to life.
She still pops into my life for visits.
Recently she decided to disrupt my hobby and my job. She called me “amateur”, “unambitious”, “foolish”.
I made the mistake of inviting her in. I forgot how unpleasant she can be.
It is becoming a less frequent visitation schedule. Therapy, working in a compassionate job and having an amazing support network have all meant that I feel ok to meet her at the door and say “not today thank you”. But she still catches me unawares, finds my insecurities and uses them to hurt me.
We all have an inner critic and in some ways it can be healthy. But only if they’re kind. Because actually, none of us should tolerate deliberate unkindness or discomfort intended to hurt us.
So… next time your imposter pays you a visit be prepared to slam the door or at least ask them politely, but firmly, to leave.
As a group, Fusion Education People Solutions provide innovative HR Services and Software (SAM, SAMpeople and FACE-Ed), developed specifically for the sector by education specialists. We are trusted by over 1000 schools and trusts across the UK.
Are you looking for solutions? Let us help fund them! Nexus Education is a community of over 11,000 schools that come together to share best practise, ideas and CPD via online channels and free to attend events. Nexus also offers funding to all school groups in the UK via nexus-education.com
Our website and ready-to-use resources bring to life the incredible stories of game changers from history – ordinary people who used their character strengths to help them achieve extraordinary things. Our site has been carefully designed to support learning and development on a whole-school basis, across the whole curriculum.
Speech Therapy support for schools and nurseries. We offer quality and bespoke services by prioritising training, assessment and effective therapy for children.
Community Brands comprises of market-leading education technology tools trusted by over 18,000 schools. Our solutions provide customers with benefits by reducing costs, offering staff more time to focus on their priorities, and working with leadership teams to achieve your goals.
Jigsaw supports teachers to champion children and young people designed as a whole-school approach programme with weekly lesson plans. Jigsaw provides all teaching resources, helping teachers confidently teach a well-being curriculum.
Is it Time to Play? provides high-quality planning, resources and training rooted in the core value of play-based learning. Specifically tailored to the unique needs of the Early Years (including Reception classes), Is it Time to Play? resources truly make “Play and Learning Fit”.
Brightcore Consultancy delivers comprehensive, reflective, and transformational training and consultancy support for education setting and related businesses in the fields of safeguarding, mental health, and wellbeing. Brightcore Consultancy is led by Lead Consultant Oliver Welsby who has extensive experience as a senior leader; both as DSL and a Senior Mental Health Lead, and who specialises in the development of effective mental health strategies and safeguarding practices within education settings, and regularly speaks at sector conferences on these topics. Oliver leads a team of expert associate consultants and trainers who have extensive knowledge and experience in both of these fields, along with individual specialisms to further support Education settings.