Imposter Syndrome

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By Tatiana Bogdanov

There’s something strangely dehumanizing about staring at a beige locker, ass aching as you sit on a cold, waxed tile floor.

Your bag sits beside you, dirty from all the bus floors and classroom floors, heavy from the textbooks.

All you can do is sit and stare.

What’s the point of it all?

At the same time, it’s like you’re all too cold and all too hot, the sleeves of your sweater don’t reach far enough to cover your hands.

A science textbook lays strewn on the floor, a clutter of information that’ll make its way to your brain only for you to forget, and relearn it all when you need it the second time.

People mill around.

People talk, they laugh, they work and work all around you and seem to be unbothered by thoughts and feelings.

Other people sit on the floor beside you, and they’re intensely focused on their phones. They’re alone, but they’re not alone.

Mouth agape, you don’t notice;

you don’t feel exactly free, you’re bound by deadlines and friends and perhaps boyfriends or girlfriends;

obligations to talk and fill up empty space, and feel the anxiety bubble up when they don’t do the same.

Are you too taxing on other people?

Underneath your feet, the ground is ungrounding.

You wear fashionable shoes, yet they feel unnatural.

Something plays over the announcements,

but the din of the crowd lulls you into a sense of somewhat security, so you ignore it.

There’s at least one notification on your phone where somebody left you on read.

You yourself have left at least five notifications on read.

The anxiety still stirs somewhere within you, “what did I do wrong? Do you not want this relationship anymore? Is this it?”

Thoughts play on a film reel in your brain, the same pictures you’ve seen thousands of times in a variety of different places.

Nerves feel quite frayed, to be quite honest.

Who has time for all of these feelings? All these emotions that make life just that much more complicated; what if you could just detach?

Without anything to distract you, without anything to numb the pain of apprehension, it’s all maybe a little too much.

Never enough to tell a person, to seek out a helping hand, a friendly face, a hug. Oh no, that would never happen.

But it’s always just a little too much too handle.

Perhaps it’s the dissociation from what’s a paranoid idea, a good thought, and a nightmare-fueled jolt in bed.

Maybe it’s the way you forget the meetings, the events, the things you have to do, in favour of not having to think about them right then.  

Possibly, it’s the way you can sleep for twelve hours and wake up exhausted;

or maybe it’s the countless nights you can barely sleep at all.

And if you’re being really honest, you’ve stopped caring about taking care of yourself. You load your backpack with the world,

and carry it on your shoulders even though that’s a one-way ticket to back problems.

You have chips and ice cream for dinner,

not particularly caring about the calorie count or the sodium or the sugar.

You stray away from food for days,

stomach too full with something indescribable.

You were once good.

You were once a force.

The golden kid, with the bright future, the passionate voice, the eyes full of hope and dreams.

You were someone.

You loved the little things.

The excited tingle in your fingertips when you saw your ferns on your desk.

The smile of someone that wasn’t too bad themselves.

The deep seated satisfaction of doing well on that really hard project.

The shiver when that good chord hits.

Now.
Now you’re a shell.

Now you’re unrecognizable to yourself.

The drive has driven away.

What is this?

Who are you?

Who are you really?

A fraud?

An imposter?

You say you’re good at things, but are you?

Oh, you’ve lost your touch.

Where is the golden kid hiding?