Weekly Inspiration #37

Hello, my name is Sara Foley, and I suffer from Imposter Syndrome.

This is where my mind shouts, “You don’t belong here! You are an imposter!” and then adds, sotto voce,”If you just keep quiet, nobody will find out.”

Hey, I know I am not the only one this happens to – we probably all feel like this from time to time, except maybe for the narcissists – so I thought I’d share with you something that happened to me this week.

I have been working as a teacher’s aide for about 9 months. During that time, I have had several Imposter Syndrome occurences, usually when I am sent to do a workshop, seminar, function or other event where I am surrounded by teachers, Principals and other staff. This particular time, my boss, the Principal of the school I work for, asked me to come along to a Year 7 Transition Meeting at the local High-school. My son is going into Year 7 next year, so I have a special interest – plus, you know, I am a sticky beak – I like to know how everything works.

We go in separate cars, and I arrive about 20 minutes earlier than my boss, leaving me with very important Teacher and Principal people – and me the only lowly teacher’s aide. IMPOSTER! In addition to this, the smell of the library where we are meeting has given me an intense throwback to when I was in year 7, at this very school. Visions of the books I borrowed, and the excitement I felt when I first walked in here – all these books! so little time! – flash in front of my eyes, making me a little giddy.

They are wanting our feedback on the process of transition – which I know nothing about, having never had anything to do with it. IMPOSTER! my mind shouted at me. Lay low, be quiet…it whispered. Finally, my boss walks in, and I refrain from throwing my arms about her neck in relief and smile calmly at her instead. So we go about the room in groups, having conversations, with me watching and listening, trying to get a handle on what’s going on. It soon becomes clear that the high-school is worried about its drop in enrollments, with more and more parents choosing to send their children to one of the private high-schools both in and out of the valley.

All of a sudden, I am talking. I say that one of the key ways to build enrollments is through nurturing good relationships with the feeder primary schools in the area, and one of the ways that you are already doing that is through the Valley 10, an affiliation between all the public schools in the valley. But, I said, this group has no web presence at all, which I found out when working on our school’s website, and I went looking for a link. Nothing at all. If they are serious about working together, I said, then you really need a website. There is silence as everyone looks at me, including my boss. And then there is a nodding of heads and more questions: how? who? where? My boss walks over to the butcher’s paper of ideas and writes it down as discussions continue. I feel giddy. I talked! They listened!

As I’m driving home, I laugh at myself. Even though I feel like an imposter and tell myself I know nothing, I can’t help myself but participate. I may not know what to teach kids or the latest education pedagogy – but I still know stuff. And you know what? So do you.

So, fess up – who has felt like an imposter? What were you doing and how did you deal with it?

Best Short Read

Bringing a Daughter Back From the Brink with Poems by Betsy McWhinney for The New York Times.

Okay, look. If you only read one thing this week, make it this one. It will not disappoint, that I can promise you. It may make you cry, but that’s okay – your eyes needed a wash anyway, didn’t they?

When George W. Bush was re-elected in 2004, my 13-year-old daughter, Marisa, was so angry that she stopped wearing shoes.

She chose the most ineffective rebellion imaginable: two little bare feet against the world. She declared that she wouldn’t wear shoes again until we had a new president.

I had learned early in motherhood that it’s not worth fighting with your children about clothes, so I watched silently as she strode off barefoot each morning, walking down the long gravel driveway in the cold, rainy darkness to wait for the bus.

The principal called me a few times, declaring that Marisa had to start wearing shoes or she would be suspended. I passed the messages on, but my daughter continued her barefoot march.

After about four months, she donned shoes without comment. I didn’t ask why. I wasn’t sure if wearing shoes was a sign of failure or maturity; asking her seemed like it could add unnecessary insult to injury.


  1. I’m liking that last graphic a lot Sara. As for being an imposter? Jeez, constantly!
    I’m still musing on Elizabeth Gilberts talk last week too. There was a lot for me to take in that weekend.


    • Shauna Niequist (who wrote that quote on the graphic) is someone whose name I am seeing a lot lately. She has a new book out called Savour, which I want to read.
      Ha! Of course you feel like an imposter :). Don’t we all, in some way?
      Enjoy your Sunday Brydey xo


  2. I get that imposter thing now and then too. When people call me “sir” I still look around to see if my dad is around or something like that! I sometimes laugh when I catch myself in a position similar to yours and wonder “when am I gonna get ratted out?” lol. I love this post and congrats on speaking up and have them listening! I think we think we don’t have much to say, but often we can surprise ourselves!



    • Hey Paul,

      I’m thinking it’s pretty common, this imposter thing :). I think the problem is that we are thinking instead of just being in whatever is happening – our ego is measuring us up against other people in ways that it knows how to – but of course, if we weren’t meant to be somewhere, then we wouldn’t be there! Thank you so much for popping by, I’ve been enjoying your blog.


  3. The Beauty in ‘Bringing a Daughter back….’ Ah, its just what I needed after a ‘hard hard kathmandu city bus ride with the kids going nuts’ afternoon. Particularly, warming my furious-ity the bit “poetry I could count on. Poetry knew where hope lived and could elicit that lump in the throat that reminds me it’s all worth it”. This connected me back with parenting spirit and inspiration for the tough times. Love your weekly round ups!


    • Hi Kate, you’re back and in the middle of it all, Kathmandu bus and all :). I find life a little bit of a rude shock after retreat :).
      Yes, that article was really something special. AS soon as I read it I knew it would feature on this week’s blog. I kind of understood that young girl – I wasn’t a self harmer, but I was very political at a young age (I wrote my first letter to the Minister for the Environment when I was 5, expressing my concern about the slaughter of seal pups). It didn’t come from my mother – she wasn’t political at all :), and I took all the trouble in the world very personally, because everything felt very personal. It was too heavy a burden to carry and I had to learn how to put it down but still care about it, helping where I could. I love to have your visits from Nepal on my blog xo


  4. Sara, I really like this post. I’m proud of you, speaking up that way. You’re getting to be quite the public speaker. And your ideas were good and practical. Don’t let that imposter complex bother you. I think everyone feels they’re imposters some of the time. Of course, some people actually are imposters. But not you or I.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No, not us! Even though I worry sometimes about my worthiness in some situations, I don’t let it stop me; although I do watch what goes on in my head, and it’s not that pleasant. I guess the key is not to believe my mind!


  5. That NYT piece is a heavy load … “Raising a child who had no hope for the future seemed like my biggest failure ever.” I’m glad I read that.
    And I started the children’s chakra bit, but want to wait + watch it with the kids…LOVE that this stuff is now mainstream!! Thank you, Sara!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh yes, that NYT article was really something, wasn’t it. What really struck me was how important it is to have enjoyable and meaningful lives – not just do the work, eat, sleep thing – not only for our sake but for the children who watching us and wondering what the point of it all is.


  6. I once had a work colleague ask me “are you the lady that does…” I was surprised he was referring to me… a lady? I forget my age, and my manners sometimes, so hadn’t looked at myself like that. Apparently I’ve been posing as a lady for quite some time and not realised…
    Beyond that, imposter qualms for me are barely noticeable so longstanding are my actress instincts. Since I was about 10 years old whenever I feel doubtful they kick into pretend mode… I’ll pretend I’m not shy. Apparently I was an actress in a previous life. It’s certainly served me well in this life, and high heels… whenever in doubt I wear heels, I’m 5′ 8” so in heels I look over all but the tallest. In my later “lady” years I’ve also learned when to shut up, if I’m out of my depth, I don’t want to confirm it.
    But no matter our position in life, we all have valuable perspectives to offer, and only the unwise discriminate when offered good advice.
    I loved this weeks offerings, the story of the mother leaving poems in the daughter’s shoes brought tears to my eyes. I enjoyed the children’s show guide to the chakras… I watched it on Saturday, my earphones weren’t working… the G.O. was engrossed in reading but looked up to ask “WHAT are you watching?!”… Kids are interested, the G.O.’s grandaughter in particular is a sponge and I find it hard to not over or under explain, and that clip got it right.
    Friday the 13th has no negative connotations for me, although I was brought up in and am comfortable with Christian religion but my tendencies are quite pagan. Many people don’t realise what was lost with movement to the modern holidays we celebrate.
    I checked out The Afterlife of Billy Fingers on Goodreads. I’m pleased you enjoyed it and normally such a recomendation and story would have me keen to read it, but I wonder at the variance in reviews. However, it’s at the libary so I’ll read for myself 🙂
    Best Astrology… we’ve just been busy busy which builds tension, so extra careful, not always successfully, to be calm and only do what we have to. Plus quiet R&R, although radical rest and fun sounds great.
    As for the Best Graphic, in the style of Harry met Sally, I want what she wants!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Dale,

      So, an actress in a previous life huh? Definitely a useful skill! I use my clothes to boost me up, and my hair. If I’m having a good hair day, nothing can affect me :).
      I’m glad you enjoyed the chakra clip, I thought it was very useful. Even this morning my daughter remembered that the throat chakra was blue and asked if water was the element!
      I saw those mixed reviews on Goodreads as well (we should become friends!). I wasn’t really surprised because it’s pretty esoteric. I think if you were sceptical or had your own views that were set in stone, you might not like it. Anyway, borrowing it from the library is a good idea to find out for yourself. Let me know what you think.
      And When Harry Met Sally – one of my all time fave movies!
      Have a good week!


  7. When I first started teaching I had imposter syndrome. Mostly because I had to get up in front of a large class and try to act like I wasn’t really nervous. So I guess I was an imposter. But you can grow into things so that they become authentically you, I’ve found.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, exactly. It’s kind of fake it to you make it. And in the broader schene on things, we can’t really be anywhere we’re not supposed to be. I’m glad I’m not the only one to suffer in this way!


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