Since I started dating my husband about a year and a half ago, I have regularly felt like an imposter.
He owns a home in a nice cozy suburban neighborhood, so now I kind of do, too. I wanted to start blogging again, so he got me a new shiny rosegold macbook and a new-to-me camera without blinking (and only grumbling a very tiny bit about it). He also venmoes me money when I periodically run out of it. With my solo income and student loans, it is not very hard to run out of money…
Since we got together, we have gone to a swanky Christmas gala his friends helped sponsor, and birthday parties where there are super cool custom-made ice luges. When we plan vacations that include AirBNB stays, it is not unlike my kickass father-in-law to try to talk us into letting him put us up in a picturesque resort instead. The hotbar at Whole Foods has become our lifeline. I don’t have to (but still will) almost exclusively shop at consignments stores anymore.
My life is starting to look pretty darn cushy.
Thus, imposter syndrome.
In a couple of ways, I was privileged before I got married. I have advanced degrees, which is a privilege (although, again, I will be paying off my catastrophic student loans indefinitely, so it doesn’t always feel like a privilege). I’m white, which I know is the privilege. I grew up in a beautiful suburban area just outside of Louisville, Kentucky that proudly offers some of the best public schools in the state.
But there were struggles and challenges, too– many that I was not up to meeting on my own. As a child, I was no stranger to anxiety-attacks or feelings of overwhelming helplessness.
Looking at me now, you maybe wouldn’t know it though.
I am a listener (and have a secret Master’s degree in counseling), so people are prone to sharing their stories with me. Something I am often struck by, is the way some seem to genuinely think they are the only ones who have ever suffered. There have been a few instances in particular, some of which I may write about in the future, where I have been left with the impression that some do not think I am tough, or have had any experiences nearly as trying as their own. People seem to expect me to be shocked by their stories, and never to be able to relate.
Surely I am not someone who has grit, or who has experienced hardships. Surely.
But I do have grit, and I have been able to relate. I usually choose not to share though, because historically when I have opted to share my experiences they were often brushed aside or discounted because I was construed as a basic whiny girl with privilege.
As a culture, we often make hardships into competitions that lead to unfair comparisons, “one upping” sessions, and can ultimately polarize us instead of bringing people together. It shouldn’t be that way.
I’m learning everyone has had, or will have, hardships. People who have been on welfare, and people who go to private school, and people who don’t even understand their hardships count as hardships, and people who are cross-sections of any or all of those groups. And everyone else. Everyone.
Everyone has struggles. They just come at different times and present differently.
You may never learn that, though, if you aren’t open to being honest and truly vulnerable (not just pretend vulnerable) about yours.
So, without further ado, I’ll go first.
Tune in next Tuesday to read about one of my earliest experiences of shame.
Oh, what a day.