I think we have all felt like an imposter at least once in our life, and I think we can all agree it doesn’t feel great. Me, as a young woman I was taught by society and my family to play the role of an imposter, “don’t take credit” or “belittle yourself” are what I feel like I was supposed to do. So for most of my life, I did just that. I would always say to myself “you're not good enough” and at 13 those words cut deep.
Now, here I am as a 30-year-old woman who has been teaching at the college level for almost 3 years. You better believe I had/have imposter syndrome coming out the wazoo. I remember my first-semester teaching Acting 1 for my students I would sometimes come home and cry in the shower because I felt inadequate. But something happened to me during that semester, as I started teaching, I started to get positive feedback from my students! And with that positive feedback, my confidence started rising and my imposter syndrome started fading.
Then my next big hurdle was when that same college asked me to teach Theater Appreciation, which is a lecture-style class. I think my first thought was “who would want to sit and listen to me talk for an hour about theater? I don’t have enough knowledge to talk for an hour.” So while coming up with my schedule for that class, I sat in imposter soup for a few weeks dreading my first day. But something happened during that first class period, my students seemed excited to learn and excited to be there. I am definitely not saying I was the perfect teacher that first semester, but I was able to learn what worked and what didn’t work and make effective changes for the next time I taught that class.
My latest dance with imposter syndrome was just a few weeks ago. I was asked to teach Theater Appreciation at a new school. The biggest difference was the class size. At my other college, they keep classes capped at 30 students, however, at my new school, a lecture-style class can have 100 students. You read that right, 100 students! I immediately went “I can not teach 100 students.” So I went into that first day of teaching a nervous wreck, just waiting for these students to find out I don’t know what I am doing. But something happened, and I decided to own up to my insecurity. I told them that I was nervous because I had never taught so many people at once, but that I was excited to go on this journey with them and see what works and what doesn’t work. After I said my truth, I immediately felt a sense of relief and I can say proudly that those kids (at least most of them) respect me.
So here is what I think, let’s stop labeling ourselves as imposters. Let’s start to think of ourselves as forever learners. No one is perfect at everything, no one knows everything, so instead of looking at other people and saying “why am I less than?” why don’t we say “I will learn how to get better, I will own my truth, and through owning that truth gain respect and knowledge.”
Remember everyone has felt like an imposter at one time or another. And if you continue to label yourself as that you will never grow out of it. Don’t be afraid to admit that you don’t know, don’t be afraid to admit your truth, because I can tell you from experience, it feels really good on the other side.
Love always your Cycle Half,