Fighting the Impostor, Part 2

In my last post, I talked about one of the things I need to work on to deal with my (admittedly self-diagnosed) Impostor Syndrome. And I do want to stress that – this is not me diagnosed with anything other than depression and anxiety. But it does express itself in that way, so I’m using that term for my issues. That may change at some point.

Today’s issue to deal with: Practice accepting compliments.

I am bad at accepting compliments. My friends know this well – they’re nodding their heads at it, knowing that if I get a compliment, I will nod my head a little and say something self-deprecating. I have two roommates who, when I do something like go to the store and get something for them, will say to me that I am “awesome”. I have a loving woman in my life who tells me I’m “handsome”. I have people who tell me good things and I am bad at admitting it.

“You’re awesome.” “No, I’m not.”
“You’re so handsome.” “Not really.”
“You’re doing so well with your your art!” “I see so many problems with it.”

Because I look at things I do, and see the flaws, or don’t see why it’s special. I went to the store and got something, but I was at the store so why not do it? I’m not really that good looking. I look at the drawing I’ve been doing (more about that later) and I see what I messed up, what doesn’t look like the art samples by the man that wrote the book look like.

But I shouldn’t be doing that. When my fiancee says that I’m handsome, she means it. When my roommates say I’m awesome, they mean it. When people tell me – people who do art, who have been doing it longer than me, say that I’m doing well and then offer me constructive criticism and ways to do better, they mean it and I shouldn’t see it as just telling me things I’ve screwed up. When I give someone directions to somewhere, it’s not ‘nothing’ to them.

I’ve gotten myself into a mental state where I can always see the worst option before I can look at the good ones. So when I do something that someone appreciates, I don’t understand why they would appreciate it.

My work in this, then, is to keep doing something I’ve been doing: instead of saying “it wasn’t anything special”, saying simply, “thank you”. That, right there, is a huge change. It’s accepting the complement instead of shrugging it off or deprecating myself. And this is not me trying to be humble, it’s me dealing with the fact I don’t really think I’m worth them. I haven’t been willing to believe that I was worth the praise at all. This undoubtedly hurt me when I had a job – just waving things off instead of blowing my own horn about how great I am at doing my job – and I’m sure it’s a problem in other things, too.

So this is my next step. I will be accepting of the complements I get from people for the things I do.

I can help people. I can do good things. I need to accept that when I do, I am worth the praise that I am given.

I am not an impostor. I am myself. I know what I’m doing and how to do it well.

And even if I don’t… well. That should be a different post.

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