Impostor Syndrome

If you know me well (or have read this blog for much time at all), you know that I worry a lot. Like a lot a lot. Like about everything.


Every time I'm facing a new semester — or a new job or a new test or a new assignment — my tendency to worry manifests itself as Impostor Syndrome. No matter how well I have done in the past in similar situations, I am wholeheartedly convinced that I will fail in the future. I've somehow conned my way into my current situation, and it's only a matter of time before my inabilities are brought to light.

For example, I call my mom before almost every test and tell her that I'm going to fail. I haven't had enough time to study, and I don't understand the information, and I have six other projects that I'm trying to work on. And I'm going to FAIL.

(My brain continues: I'm not really cut out for grad school. Not bright enough for Missouri. Not as capable as the other students.)

I hadn't even realized that I always did this until my mom pointed it out during one of my pre-test meltdowns back in my college days. She said something to the effect of, "Kate, you always call and say you're going to fail, and you never actually fail." (So now I'm aware of the fact that my breakdowns are unmerited, but I still have them.)

A few weeks ago, I was talking to some of my friends, and I was amazed to learn how many felt the same way about various situations in their lives. I knew these girls to be capable and smart and diligent. I could think of dozens of reasons to reassure my friends that their successes were deserved and that they would continue to succeed in the future. When it comes to my own successes, however, I never think I'll be able to keep up the act.

This is what I'm dreading about the new semester. I'm dreading the feelings of Impostor Syndrome, dreading the sense of inadequacy and the anticipation of failure. I think hearing that my friends felt the same way was somewhat reassuring — not because I want them to feel incapable but because I know they aren't. And maybe the more these feelings get talked about, the more we'll be able to fend them off.

p.s. In writing this blog, I came across this interesting Impostor Phenomenon test. I would definitely answer often or very true for almost all of the statements on the test. Yikes! Here are a few examples:

  • I have often succeeded on a test or task even though I was afraid that I would not do well before I undertook the task.
  • I avoid evaluations if possible and have a dread of others evaluating me.
  • When people praise me for something I’ve accomplished, I’m afraid I won’t be able to live up to their expectations of me in the future.
  • I tend to remember the incidents in which I have not done my best more than those times I have done my best.
  • I rarely do a project or task as well as I’d like to do it.
  • I often worry about not succeeding with a project or examination, even though others around me have considerable confidence that I will do well.

Do you ever feel like an impostor?

Confessions of a Preacher's Daughter

So Melissa and I went to go see Footloose last Friday, and I totally loved it. This may come as a surprise to those of you who know of my exquisite taste in film. (Other favorites include A Walk to Remember and The Princess Diaries.)

Seriously, though, there are few things I enjoy more than a feel-good movie about high schoolers who are played by adults.

Ren, the main character, was totes adorbs and a sweetheart. And I identified with Julianne Hough's character, Ariel, because we both 1) are preachers' daughters 2) have crushes on Ren and 3) are super rebellious and can dance really well.

Just kidding about number three. Julianne Hough is a terrible dancer.

Just kidding about identifying with Ariel at all, actually. She was kind of trampy, so I never really figured out why Ren liked her. It was probably that whole preacher's-daughter appeal. Except for the fact that, as far as I can tell, that's not a real thing.

You know how there are activist groups concerned with the media portrayal of various people groups? Why isn't there one for preachers' kids?

I should totally do my grad thesis on the media portrayal of preachers' kids. It would be so journalistic of me. My research would probably involve watching lots of 7th Heaven. And my conclusion would be like, Hey, Dusty Springfield, not all preachers' kids can reach you and/or teach you things. Hey, Nicholas Sparks, not all preachers' kids inadvertently win the hearts of their schools' bad boys. Hey, whoever wrote 7th Heaven, not all preachers' kids have a million siblings.

One scene in Footloose particularly amused me because it was exactly like a scene in A Walk to Remember. Basically Ren/Landon wants to go out with Ariel/Jamie, so he goes to the dad's sanctuary one evening and stops him practice-preaching to ask for permission to go out with his daughter. And the preacher-dad totally doesn't want to say yes but says yes anyway because he is all moved by Ren/Landon's forwardness and knows that saying yes is the Christian thing to do.

I don't know why Ren and Landon figured they would find the preacher-dads in the sanctuary after hours, and I don't know why they were right. I've never found my dad chilling in the sanctuary at nighttime, giving sermons when there's no one there. (Take note, rebellious high school boys.)

Ridiculous portrayal of the preacher's fam aside, I thoroughly enjoyed this movie and could not get enough of the soundtrack. Can we talk about this cover of "Holding Out for a Hero" for a second? Because I've basically had it on repeat since I left the movie theater.

I've always loved this song — and by always, I mean since Frou Frou covered it in 2004 — but this version is by far the best I've heard. I feel like the author of Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough (which I borrowed from Taylor over SBXI but didn't finish because it was depressing but which Melissa did finish and always references) would probably have a few words for whoever penned this song. Namely that it's unreasonable to expect a man to be not only a hero but also strong and fast and fresh from the fight and sure and soon and larger than life. (Obligatory Backstreet Boys reference.)

And that author would probably be right. Because those expectations are pretty unreasonable. But I'm keeping the song on repeat anyway because how am I supposed to weed through all those rebellious high school boys pining for my preacher's-daughter heart unless I keep my standards really high? Answer me that, Lori Gotlieb. Except for the fact that, as we established earlier, that whole preacher's-daughter appeal may or may not actually exist. So — for good measure/your listening pleasure — I've also included my second favorite Footloose soundtrack song, one which Lori Gotlieb would probably fully approve of.

p.s. Totes just did some Googling and found out that somebody already did a grad thesis on stereotypes of preachers' kids. Not even kidding. This is how she ends her introduction:

"For some time, perhaps even as long as there have been preacher’s kids; there has been a stereotype that is imbedded within our society. This stereotype, simply stated, is that the children of ministers are considered hellions and are believed to be capable of any form of bad or deviant behavior. There is also the belief that even though the children are thought to be deviant, they are also ideally supposed to be perfect."

p.p.s. She should have made "preacher's" plural possessive instead of singular possessive in her first sentence. And her first semicolon should be a comma. And she used the nonstandard spelling of "embed."

p.p.p.s. In case you guys didn't know, I am a hellion capable of bad and deviant behavior. Also, perfect.