Five-Minute Friday: Fraud

(Note: “Five-Minute Friday” is an activity adapted from Kate Motaung’s blog. Each week, I use and write for five minutes straight with the word as a prompt, free-write style with no editing and no over-thinking.)

I will be 40 in less than 6 months, and I am wondering when I finally stop feeling like a fraud. Will it magically disappear at 40? I had a friend who, when she turned 50, said her colleagues told her she could now start saying, ‘F— you, I’m 50,” a phrase to be uttered as her excuse for saying no to whatever she didn’t want to do, for letting go of whatever she didn’t want to hold, for finally being able to declare unabashedly that she didn’t give a f— any more.

Can I use that for 40?

Fraud. Imposter. Imposter syndrome – the underlying feeling like you don’t really deserve your job/status/title/life because you somehow haven’t earned it. You don’t fit the mold of the woman/mom/boss/business person you think exists.

Of course, the kicker is that we all feel this way to an extent. There IS no one-way to be or do something, really.

I’m currently reading a really thought-provoking book, Old in Art School. The author is a 64 when she decides to leave her life in academia – a chaired professorship in history at Princeton, no less – to return to art school as an undergrad…and then continue on in an MFA program at RISD. Despite her impressive academic pedigree, her experiences as a woman, as a black woman, as an “older” black woman render her an outsider in art school. The fact that she has published books, one that lands her an interview on The Colbert Report during her stint at RISD, counts for nothing.

She feels like a fraud.

I’m only 2/3 of the way through, but I’m guessing she doesn’t find a way to nix that feeling by the end because I’m not sure any of us ever really do.


(Featured image is one of Painter’s works, the author of Old in Art School.)

4 thoughts on “Five-Minute Friday: Fraud

  1. Nikki S Burr says:

    I am constantly working at becoming more comfortable with the fraud feeling. I think everyone feels like this from time to time, but “successful” people know how to “fake it till they make it”. I think the true challenge is balancing forced confidence with perceived arrogance. Authentic humbleness (i.e, I don’t have a friggin’ clue) has also proved very helpful for me in certain situations.

    • Kirstin says:

      Yes! I agree entirely. And, isn’t it refreshing when those around us show authentic humbleness, too? It helps shatter the myth that everyone knows what she’s doing all the time, except us.

  2. Joni says:

    If we “ALL”, never get over that feeling of being a fraud, how do we explain personalities like #45? And I do believe that there are a lot of people who don’t feel that insecurity. Maybe the people who do are just modest?

    • Kirstin says:

      I think his actions suggest a very insecure man, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he feels like a fraud deep down as well. Interestingly, I typically hear about Imposter Syndrome with women.

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