This is the fifth time I have typed the intro to this blog post. Why is it so hard? I think it's because in my mind, I am talking. Not writing. It's almost as if I have a podcast but the podcast is just me writing. The podcast is a blog. I am blogging. WOW. No, I am not high right now. I just genuinely made the connection as I was typing that - a podcast is the verbal version of a blog and vice versa. So, hi! Welcome back to Earthbound with Myra, where I attempt to make sense of my life via written word, through relatable analogies with terrible segues.
Today's blog topic (drumroll please...): THEMES. What's the theme in your life? I'm going to share with you a collection of stories from my life that all share one theme, and how I believe this theme now appears in my adult life. I won't be upset if you laugh because some of these stories are definitely meant to be funny. Some are naturally infuriating. I think when my dad reads this post he will audibly sigh - the rest of you should (hopefully) be entertained. So let's fucking get into it.
This all started when I was a child.
Yeah. That's where this is going.
At age 3 we took a family trip to Myrtle Beach. Several years later, I started to have a "memory" of being left alone on the beach during this trip with, a now infamous, red wagon. In the "memory" my parents and my grandpa boogie boarded, while my grandma sought out a hot dog stand as I stood alone with the red wagon on the beach. Ridiculous. However, I would swear up and down this was a real memory for a long time. Somewhere along the way I did accept it was a dream of course, but chose to continue tormenting my parents by claiming it was real - because at that point it was a running joke in the household.
However, this is the earliest memory I have of my running theme - the theme being: anything I said as a child or teenager was not believed or validated. Not in the sense of what I was doing from a trust perspective, such as, "Hey, I'm going to a friend's house tonight," but from a sense of knowledge - actual truths, what I saw with my own eyes, or my gut intuitions. Let me give you a few fun examples!
Example 1: "That's a funnel cloud," on Easter Day, early 2000's. That one took tornado sirens and a radio broadcast announcement that the funnel cloud was spotted in the same location to clear my name.
Example 2: "I just saw a water spout by Cedar Point." That one took a complete stranger claiming that they saw the very same water spout to be taken seriously.
Example 3: One of my personal favorites, "That guy is a fucking weirdo," (but in a more roundabout way that involved actual examples of what made him weird and how it made me feel). That story was responded to with, "Here she goes again, so judgmental... Myranda and her red wagon." We won't name the guy, but suffice to say that one took a whole "X" years before my parents' own experiences finally forced them to tell me that they should have trusted my intuition in the beginning.
Example 4: In Megan's Bay off St. Thomas Island, "A sea turtle just swam right in front of me!" Again, this one required a complete stranger with snorkel gear to confirm. My initial statement was brushed off, but upon hearing from strangers, less than 60 seconds later, that there was, in fact, a turtle, the response from my dad became, "WOW, really? And it just swam by?!" Meanwhile, me, "I JUST FUCKING TOLD YOU THAT."
Medical professionals? Forget about it. The doctor never believes I know my body, the vet never believes I know my pet. Case in point - Before I understood my physical symptoms were tied to anxiety, all I knew was that I woke up in the morning to sit over my toilet ready to vomit, spent my entire day nauseated, and ended the night in the same position. I couldn't identify anything with my diet that I was doing differently. My mom finally forced me to see a doctor, where she insisted on joining me in the room out of concern. The doctor asked me if I was pregnant. I said there was no chance. She asked if my mom needed to leave the room, so we could "talk freely." I was furious, and defensively explained that I had never even had sex, to which I received raised eyebrows. Can you believe that shit? I was sent home by a disapproving nurse with some Nexium for Acid Reflux.
That story works for the topic of this blog post but I also love using that story when shredding the medical industry for not wanting to identify root causes, and handing me a fancy little bottle of pills to resolve my symptoms (to which it did not, of course). Now THAT is a topic I will save for another day.
Those are just a few miniscule examples plucked from years worth of collections. I think the nail in the coffin came from an experience I had as a late teenager. I remember my cell phone senior year of high school was the first phone I had that could double as an alarm clock. I ditched the lame digital clock next to my bed. Sometime around winter it started malfunctioning for no apparent reason, as older cell phones seemingly did. I remember I was exhausted to a point of no return on a Friday night - I went to bed at 8pm. I had practice at 10am the next morning. My alarm never went off, but I woke up at 10:02am to a teammate calling me out of concern. She had been waiting on me before going down to the gym, knowing that was abnormal for me not to be there.
I remember clearly the feeling of sheer panic when I answered. I never missed practice. Early is on time, and on time is late. I was beyond late by that logic, and this was not the coach to fuck around with. I ran out the door as she said that they were planning to lie about where I was when they got down to the gym. I remember driving 80mph down Bell Church Rd., praying an Amish buggy wasn't over every hill as I screamed, "DO NOT DO THAT. Tell her the truth - that my alarm never went off and I am on my way."
Well... that did not happen. The lie was told. I arrived to find everyone running lines due to my mistake, which I expected. However, I was told not to join them but to watch them run for my mistake. which I did not expect. I joined them anyway. X amount of running later, I was pulled aside and absolutely reamed for having my team lie for me. I explained that's not at all what I told them to do and explained what actually occurred.
She did not believe me.
I laugh about these stories now, but that last one really haunts me to this day because I believe it's a big one that shaped my adulthood. I clearly remember every detail to this day. That experience really solidified for me that it did not matter what truth or opinion I had to share, someone else's word was going to be taken seriously over mine, even in the event that it was a truth vs. a lie. Somewhere along the way, my brain developed with the understanding that I should not be trusted, so now I don't even trust myself.
And this is my theme!
With that said... let's talk about Imposter Syndrome.
I just want to be clear here: I know my "theme" is not outright responsible for Imposter Syndrome, but I do believe it plays a solid role in it; and honestly it's a lot more fun to write about then some of the more serious or personal shit - connections and insights to be saved for another day.
So here's a quick definition for Imposter Syndrome from Wikipedia: "A psychological occurrence in which people doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments, and have a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as frauds."
This is not a hot take. A lot of people today suffer from this, and I'm sure when I start sharing what this looks like you're going to be saying, "Hey, that's me." Or, "This bitch is a self-diagnosed, internet weirdo." Well if that's the case, fuck it. I own it.
Here are some of the false stories my brain likes to conjure:
I do not know what I am talking about.
I am incompetent.
I do not know what I am doing (even as I am doing it).
It was not perfect so it shouldn't be praised - thanks, perfectionism!
Someone else can do this better.
I shouldn't bother trying.
Now... this all affects me differently for different areas of my life. When it comes to my family, it looks a lot like going out of my way to prove points; and I mean... truly very far out of my way. It's fucking stupid. I have reached out to childhood friends to obtain proof of an incident just recently. My favorite response from my parents when it comes to me proving points, "Why are you like this?" I then get to reiterate, "Because you made me this way!" I do thrive on that. I feel my dad rolling his eyes here, but secretly enjoying the dig.
In the workplace, it affects me heavily from a perfectionism standpoint. I know I have a skill, but it's definitely not good enough. Anyone else can do it better. I often call myself out on it beforehand so no one is shocked to find out I'm a fraud. Even though the reality is a different story, my self-deprecation usually has it's own effect before the work even begins: it causes someone to not to take me seriously. Which, of course, fuels my little vicious "theme!"
More than skills, it really affects me from a standpoint of actual knowledge. I'm very agreeable. I never want to make a decision because my decision is not right and should not be trusted. I never want to train someone on the job because I myself don't know what I'm doing and will tell the trainee something that is not right. I shut down questions about management roles because why the hell would anyone think I could do something like that? If I moved into a position like that, they would find out I'm a fraud; and the fact that they're asking me, means they must not be smart enough to see that I'm a fraud... so now I'm questioning THEIR judgment. WHAT? You get the picture here.
So how does someone break this cycle?
No, seriously. I do not have the answer.
What I do know is this: I'm trying.
I feel like Imposter Syndrome is one of those lifelong illnesses that we just accept is a part of us, because I can tell you I finally branched out and did some new shit (despite what my brain told me I should do - which was to stay put), and those thoughts are all still there. They're worse, actually. Oh, did you think this post was going to be inspiring today? No, I always knew I would never be an inspiring disabled person.
That's a Modern Family quote, don't come for me.
About ten days ago I had a full blown identity crisis that left me in yet another depressive state, and guess what came out of it? This blog post. You are welcome.
Here's what happened, what my brain told me, and how my therapist reframed my negativity:
Ten days ago I was having a decent day at work (I work part-time at my personal gym right now). I made a mistake. Then I made another mistake. So I walked away to clean something, but stepped in the backroom to unexpectedly cry for a second (because I do that now) and my brain produced one small negative thought... before spiraling the fuck out:
You can't get a silly part-time job right after two months.
What the fuck is wrong with you?
*Queue snowballing effect here*
You are wasting your time.
No one will read or believe your blog posts.
Being vulnerable is uncomfortable and upsetting you.
This is not working.
No one will want to work with you as a coach.
No one will trust what you have to say.
What is the point of it all?
Everything has changed.
Nothing is the same.
I am not the same.
Go back to a desk job.
Make money again.
Drink alcohol again.
Close off again.
Our life will be recognizable again.
This is a very real train of thought that happened in a matter of 5 minutes or less, and after I was just having a good day... What the fuck? When I shared this with my therapist I did not get past the very first bullet point before she stopped me and said, "You work part-time. By that logic, you have only worked full-time for one month. It takes an average of six months for someone to fully learn a new job with a new company."
Grace. Reframe your mindset.
She just coached the shit out of me.
You know, a HUGE reason why I did not see a therapist for so long is not actually because I did not believe in therapy. It is because I firmly believed no therapist would believe or validate anything I ever told them. I did not believe I had a reason to see a therapist because I never really had that "Big T Trauma." I talk a lot of shit but I do consider myself #blessed. I know my family loves and supports me. Not everyone can say the same.
The story I always have told myself is that I am not important enough to see a therapist, and there are other people out there who have a right to see one. Well, that's bullshit. It's just another Imposter Syndrome thought creeping in, "My therapist will see I'm a fraud. I don't even have a reason to be here." Then the reality comes flooding in when you take that first step and finally find someone you mesh with that helps you understand your neurobiology, and suddenly... it turns out you have many, many things to process through in behavioral therapy.
I want to know how many people relate to having Imposter Syndrome. I know you're out there. It's not uncommon. But what I want to know more than that is... what is your theme? What is a recurring thing that happened to you during childhood, followed you in your teenage years, and now creeps up in your adult life? What does that look like for you?
In the meantime, here is some light reading to educate yourself on Imposter Syndrome if you still have questions.
You get a link, you get a link! Everyone gets a link!
No... I am still not high.