I first learned of Impostor Syndrome through my friend Grace. I think it might be contagious.
Today Nick went to the butcher and bought some spicy bratwurst, which he thought would be delicious on buns. “You’ll fry up some onions, right?” he said, and I agreed I would.
Every time I try to caramelize some onions, there is a point in the middle where I am sure it isn’t going to work. It is the part where some of the onions are dark and shrunken, but most of them are still thick with little to no browning. Every time, I am certain that I cannot do this, that every time that I have ever successfully caramelized an onion in the past has been an accident, a fortuitous mistake.
I am not good at anything, despite any evidence to the contrary.
This is a recurring theme, most notably at work, and at home with Toddler.
At work, I am faking it. Despite having been gainfully employed for 50% of my life to date, I still feel like an amateur; what do I know about anything? I am barely even an adult, even though I’m 30. I am making it all up as I go, bluffing my way through meetings and reports and projects. Who am I to call myself an authority? I don’t know anything. Half-way through my current contract, I am certain this is never going to work.
And with Toddler, this feeling of incompetence is amplified.
The kid doesn’t eat. He is growing, and he is not skinny, but I am never sure that he has gotten enough nutrients, and surely by not fighting him hard enough we are stunting his growth and knocking points off his future IQ. He prefers baked goods – sweet carbs like muffins, doughnuts, banana bread; today he went to a birthday party and was handed a hot dog. He discarded the wiener and ate the whole bun and then some cake. For dinner I gave him maple breakfast sausage in small pieces, crackers, red peppers, apples and raisins. He ate the apples and raisins, a few bites of the crackers, and threw the rest on the floor.
I write about food, but my own child won’t eat.
This can’t be just my problem. We are all faking it, aren’t we? At what point do we begin to feel like fully fledged grown-ups who know their own ish? Intellectually, I know if I keep turning the onions over medium heat, eventually they will brown. And still, I am sure every time that it isn’t going to work. I have done it wrong, chopped the onions too thick, and it is so easy to do right – how could I have failed? And still, they turn out. They brown, they soften, they are delicious on buns with bratwurst and I am silly.
With patience, they turn out every time.
Am I alone on this? Or are we all impostors? When do we start to feel like we know what we are doing?