I Wasn't Ready To Talk About It, I Guess I Am Now.
I guess now is as good a time as any. I guess I have no choice since you’re about to hear me talk about it on the podcast. I am not sure when I decided I was ready, but here we go…
My life changed in March 2018. When Glen and I released the podcast, and people started responding to it right away, I knew we had something special. I couldn’t really explain it, I still can’t totally, and I feel really dumb when I talk about the success and how well it’s going. There are some people who can talk about the success in their lives really smoothly and confidently. There are others who just ooze that confidence and you know they are successful just by the way they carry themselves. I am neither of those types of people. But - when you ask me how the podcast is doing, I can proudly explain we’re one of the top podcasts in education, and we travel all over now speaking to educators and sharing their stories, and I may even let slip a few of the awesome projects we are working on. If you only slightly knew me, or were meeting me for the first time and asked me about the podcast you may think I am bragging.
Please believe, I am not bragging, I am confused and absolutely redirecting the confusion. I’m super good for small bursts of confidence and bravado. I get right back to confusion, at least on the inside, super quick. I have Impostor Syndrome, badly, and am absolutely convinced in my mind that any minute now my whole professional life is going to go to shit and I’ll be done.
I’m not a doctor (obviously) and I haven’t spoken to any professionals about this. So I am going to try to explain what Impostor Syndrome actually is, then we’ll have some fun (sigh) and I’ll tell you how it manifests itself in me. First, its a real thing. It sounds fake, it is definitely not. Generally speaking, it is a mental condition which causes you to think you’re actually a giant fraud about to be found out ANY MINUTE NOW. It’s the overwhelming thought that your knowledge is stolen, and that your success is luck.
For me it happened slowly. I got a teaching job when no one in Ontario was getting full time teaching jobs. Then I got accepted to speak at ISTE in 2014. My first speaking opportunity was on EdTech’s biggest stage. Both of those felt like I was just in the right place at the right time. Anyone right around July 2014 could have submitted a proposal to talk about Minecraft in Education - it was just about to blow up. I got lucky. I went through most of 2015-2017 with it on simmer, writing off great experiences as luck and definitely thinking I was going to still lose my job every year. I suppose it didn’t help that I worked at a Private School that operated under seasonal contracts for their teachers. Every year, the entire staff got to wait and see if they were going to be back next year. It’s really the worst. In 2018 it exploded when the podcast blew up and I was getting a lot of new, interesting, opportunities. Nowadays, my head is in a constant state of doubt that is masked, shockingly well, by my ability to summon these short but exhausting bursts of confidence.
Here is some of the fun shit that’s been going on in my head:
Glen actually hates me, he tolerates me because the podcast is a thing and he’ll just roll with it until I’ve worn out my usefulness to him and then peace out.
Side fun thought, as soon as I leave a space we are together he (and others) talk shit behind my back.
Most people don’t think I’ve actually done anything. I got lucky talking about things at the right time and have been piggy backing on the shoulders of people like Steve Isaacs, Glen, and others.
I’m absolutely about to lose my job, then not be able to find a teaching job because that’s almost impossible in Ontario, then we’ll lose the house and I’ll end up on the street.
I’m forcing myself into people’s professional lives, infiltrating, and then passing off their success as my own.
I’m sure there’s more, but it’s not fun thinking about them. One or all of these thoughts pass through my mind almost daily - especially that first one. The podcast is the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, and the dreams I dream about the things we could do and the places we could take it are amazing. If it all stopped I’m not sure what would be next for me. I think about it daily.
I’m not sure when I decided to start talking about it. But this tweet by my great friend Steve really might have been what set me off (not in a bad way). The answer to his question is NO. I don’t sleep. I am writing this at 11:30pm. I will be up at 5:30am. I don’t sleep. His question, while likely more of a joke than anything, gets at the heart of how I react to my Impostor Syndrome though. Because I think everything is just about to fall apart, I work my ass off praying it doesn’t. I fall alseep thinking about work. I wake up and think about work. I love my job, and I love what I am doing right now, but I KNOW I am not thinking about work they way others think about work first thing in the morning. I am thinking about work out of desperation to keep it going. I have to make sure I am working, or its going to end. That’s why I think about my work.
I am not totally sure where I go from here. But I know part of the process of working through this is talking about it. I don’t know if there is anyone reading these posts at all (yeah, there it is) but hopefully, maybe, if my issues are resonating with others, we can all start talking about them. I guess that’s where we start. Comments are open. Let’s talk.