Here is an excerpt from chapter three of my book: The Impostor Affect: A Closer Look at a Classic Case:
I had many fears in those days (during my teen years): some understandable, some not. I ‘worried ahead’ . . . much like those who ‘pay it forward.’ I created scenarios in my head and then wasted my emotional energy fretting about them. My fear of the unknown future was at times more powerful than my stress of the known reality of the day. The seeds of the impostor were planted in my childhood; they were watered during my too-brief adolescence; and they came into full bloom and then spread throughout my adult life.
The impostor phenomenon is widely experienced but not widely understood. In my book, I have provided the research on it and then shared personal experiences that mirrored the research I found. In the book’s introduction, I write from my research:
The impostor phenomenon is the term used to describe the inability of high-achieving individuals to internalize their success or to believe that they are capable of or responsible for their own accomplishments. Other people overestimate their abilities, and that makes the impostor feel like a fraud. When they actually achieve something grand, they tell themselves that it is a fluke or that they could never do it again. They feel completely unworthy of praise and refuse to accept or even acknowledge a compliment. They are filled with fears of all kinds but put up a good front to hide them.
(Clance & Imes, 1978; Matthews & Clance, 1985, Abstract)
Just knowing about it helped me to begin to reject the inner voice of insecurity and inferiority that then set me on a path of deeper self-discovery. The purpose for writing the book was to inform my readers so that they, too, may move on from the fears associated with the impostor life. Yes, impostors flourish—we push through our fears—but we are not able to enjoy our successes. We feel fraudulent because our inside experiences do not match our outside results. In chapter two, I write about this:
Fraud is such a good word for what I feel most of the time. I look back on my life and wonder if I was ever a good friend to anyone. I wonder if I was even close to being a good mother to my children, a good wife to my husbands—yes, I have to be honest here—or a good teacher to my students. Now I have to deal with my fraudulent feelings about my writing, too. Am I capable of writing my story in such a way that will be interesting? Do I have anything worthwhile to add to the educational conversation, for the general public?
I am moving away from these thoughts and feelings as I reflect on the research I found and on my own life’s story and as I search for the truth of my own personal identity. I am writing about my search and will share my answers in my next book, The Fourth Voice: Exploring Identity Theft of Another Kind (expected late 2018 release date).