Symptoms make me sick. Really. I realized this as I watched television the other day and every time a commercial came on, I felt I had the symptoms they described. A cold medicine ad had me sniffling and coughing. A little later some guy told me my dry eyes were a “condition”. And later that evening, I punted the cat off the couch and shrugged, “Restless leg syndrome”.
I am very susceptible to outside influences. I think the pioneers had it easy because there were no advertising people to tell them that it wasn’t okay to have dry skin, body odor, and bleeding from the ears. And psychological symptoms are the worst.
Psychology classes in college were really bad for me. I studied agoraphobia and suddenly decided I wasn’t lazy, I was just afraid to leave the house. I found out that I had an inferiority complex … but at least mine was a bigger inferiority complex than anyone else’s. I realized that there was something wrong with me because I didn’t hate my parents. And when I signed up for “Abnormal Psychology”, my family talked me into dropping the class after only one session. Good call there.
But not too long ago, I was reading a psychology book and discovered something that really rang true. It’s called the Impostor Phenomenon. It’s where you think that everything you’ve accomplished is an accident. That your success is just a fluke, and that, at any minute, your house of cards may fall and everyone will see that you’re not really any good at anything. Or they’ll see you in your junior high school underwear – oh wait, I think that’s a different fear.
And so, once again, I’m working on my positive affirmations.
“Christee, good job on that seminar.” My friend patted me on the back. I choked back the urge to say, “You have incredibly low standards.” Instead I nodded and smiled.
A construction worker whistled and I did not immediately look behind me to see whom he was admiring. I just nodded and smiled. (Okay, honestly, behind me was a college student with hair that was too big and a shirt that was too small. But I ignored that fact.)
My mother told me, “Well, your last column was a little better.” I took it for what it was worth, nodded and smiled.
I acknowledged the fact that I can actually know things without having a framed certificate to say that I know them. Just because my degree doesn’t say “BS in Customer Service”, doesn’t mean that I don’t know the right way to treat a guest in my home. Because it doesn’t say “Master of Fine Talking”, doesn’t mean I can’t speak without spitting on someone. And, even though I don’t have a degree in Office Management, I can actually survive an entire day in an office environment without a single call to 911.
And so, I am working to overcome my Impostor Phenomenon. Next week I’ll start working on that restless leg thing.