The past few weeks at work have been a minor stress-fest. Or a major stress-fest, depending on the day. It's been the kind of stress that bubbles away under the surface, so it hasn't been openly obvious to colleagues.
But it's certainly been noticeable to my health - my doctor will most likely conclude it's the reason I'm now intolerant to almost every food, and why this week an optician told me I didn't need glasses, I just needed to "blink more, you idiot, when you stare at a screen for 9 hours a day." Whoops.
In the summer of 2017 I was chosen to work on a project that combines two of my great passions, and was a big-ish deal in the organisation. It flies under most people's radars, but to those in our little world it gets people talking.
I was surprised to be given the job - being underqualified, flailing around in a new-to-me department, and not really understanding things like professionalism or how to talk to colleagues or how many smiley emojis is too many in a work email. Little things like that. And big things, like having no experience and only weird Wikipedia facts to give the impression of actual knowledge.
In the next few weeks, that project is going to be revealed. This is a fact I wasn't wholly aware of until about two weeks ago. Just typing about it makes my heart rate increase. And the thoughts begin: what will happen when everyone finds out I have no clue what I'm doing?
Ah yes, here comes an unhealthy dose of impostor syndrome.
For those who aren't familiar with this ~psychological phenomenon~, one article defines it as
a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful
Oh, and it means you're terrified that everyone will discover your true identity as a fraud.
Hey! I'm an incompetent failure! Do you want to tell everyone I'm a fake, or should I get onto a nearby rooftop and announce it to the world myself?
With these thoughts swirling round in my head, it's probably no surprise that I want to lock myself in a cupboard and/or move far away and continue life under a pseudonym.
But instead, I've been concentrating on the advice in this tweet:
My therapist taught me to interrupt my anxious thinking with thoughts like: "What if things work out" and "What if all my hard work pays off?"— Sinclair P. Ceasar III (@Sinclair_Ceasar) April 11, 2018
So, I'm passing that onto you wherever you are, whatever you're leaving, or whomever you're becoming.
If this is a success (which it will be! I've had the support of colleagues! So far no one has said anything bad! Everyone's got my back!) it could be really important to my career; there's loads of CV/application/interview fodder encapsulated in this experience. It's also something I can contribute to the field I work in - something which I can point to and see my little flag waving. And it's taught me lots, given me some passion, and opened up my mind.
If everything is well-accepted, the confidence boost will be amazing. From time to time I feel like I've hit my stride, but this will be proof.
If no one questions my work, this will be the culmination of so much work. I'm excited and terrified, but I think that's healthy.
- - -
So, I hope you're week was a bit better than mine! While I get settled into a new work schedule (and whilst I writhe in pain if I merely think about food) I'll be a little AWOL, but I hope to be back in a week or two, all things being well. Until then you can find me over on twitter, because I'm trying to get back into that whilst simultaneously doing my best not to be annoying about it.
Until next time (whenever that may be) please remember to speak and think kind words, to yourself and to others. Treat yourself well and concentrate on all the good things~