Prevention & Awareness

Stress Less Week: Am I An Imposter?

635799162532104738-236592369_208758e

Have you ever felt like an imposter?

Like any minute you’ll be found out for the fraud you really are?

That the extraordinary talent everyone says you have is really just average, and you can’t really achieve what they expect?

Me, too.

And it’s caused me anxiety my entire life.

Since I can remember I have been pushing myself to climb higher and reach further. At some point someone told me I was among the smartest kids in the room. I took that suggestion and made it my identity.

Through the end of my master’s degree I never earned anything less than an A-. And that whole time–with each assignment that came and went–I always felt like I was on the edge of imminent failure.

Anxiety disorders make you perceive threats everywhere. An anxious mind is uncomfortable with things been good and calm. So I stressed to the max. I wrung my hands over comma usage and word choice and proper citations. I thought by making those little things perfect, I could be perfect, too.

When I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in college one of my secondary diagnoses was obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). I was obsessed with food and calories, and I felt compelled to exercise–every day.

Since then, the eating disorder voice is all but gone. Now when I feel like an imposter and totally incapable of success at work or in relationships, I project my anxiety onto activities I’m quite good at. For two years, I hated driving. I feared getting in the car. I imagined unknowingly causing accidents and just driving away completely unaware.

I used to love driving and although things are better now, I wonder if they’ll ever be the same as when I was 17.

Today, because of therapy and treatment, I can manage my anxiety. I can manage the fear of being “found out,” the mask pulled off, the imposter revealed.

If you think you’re struggling with anxiety, you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorders among college students. Reach out and get help if you need it. Talk to someone and invest some time in getting back to yourself.

Sometimes all we need to do is stress less and laugh more. But if you’re wired like me, sometimes you need a little more help.

And that’s ok.