There was a time in my life when I knew what I was good at. Being a cheerleader in high school was my identity was good at it. I was loud and had spirit to spare (along with several pairs of orange pants!) It was easy to be myself. I don't know if I could tell you when that changed. Was it a subtle change or did it all happen at once? I am not sure, but I think it had something to do with physics.
When my husband and I moved to Nebraska so Mike could get his Master of Fine Arts (MFA), I was ecstatic to be able to go to Husker football games, but I was terrified of the job I found. I started out teaching biology and chemistry and made fun of the physics teacher. But the job I found in Nebraska was one physics and one advanced physics. I freely admit that I tried to talk bell to bell so there was no time to ask me questions! Slowly, I figured it out and my confidence grew. I realized that physics was the best of all the sciences to teach: Biology is slimy, chemistry is stinky and we get to play with toys in physics. It was in Lincoln that I got involved in the AP Program, starting as a chief aide for the reading. Eventually I became a reader, then table reader, and exam leader. Here's my secret, I often felt like an imposter, never really believing I was up to the task, because everyone around me was so much smarter. That feeling was hard to shake then and it still rears its ugly head now and again.
I look back at my career to this point and I see amazing things; grants totaling nearly $100,000, co-chair of the AP Physics C Test Development Committee, Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, and now the Einstein Fellowship. I am proud of what I have accomplished, but I often still think of myself as an imposter, always questioning if I really belong here. Now I know the answer to that- I do belong here.
There are always going to be setbacks in life- I can think of some big ones. You have to be able to recognize how amazing you are, pick yourself up and keep pushing forward. The Imposter Syndrome is real and it's like quicksand- it can drag you down fast. Surround yourself with people who lift you up and most of all, BELIEVE IN YOURSELF!! You are amazing!
To those of you who have always lifted me up- you have my undying gratitude. You are all rock stars!