Reaching the Same Age – Adult Impostor Syndrome

Do you remember when you thought adults had it all figured out? When you would look at your parents with envy and awe that they knew everything and they were allowed to stay up past 10 pm?

And then one day you reach the age they were then and you realize that you’re just beginning to figure stuff out.

And that’s on the good days:)

We won’t even talk about the bad days when it seems like you’ll never have your sh*t together.

My parents divorced when they were around the age I am now.

And that’s a strange feeling.

I was young enough at the time that I still thought my parents walked on water. It was impossible to wrap my head around the idea that these two people that seemed to know what they were doing in all other areas couldn’t make marriage work.

Because in eyes of a young child, marriage is pretty simple – I do, you do. Done.

And now that I’ve been through the end of a marriage and I also hear 40 knocking at my door, I see it so differently.

And I see them so differently.

They’re not the people who could do no wrong that I saw as a young child.

And they’re not the people who could do no right that I perceived as a teenager.

They’ve become people that I can now identify with and empathize with, at least as far as that phase of their lives.

I can now understand some of that anxiety my mom felt trying to keep it together when her world fell apart. I can relate to the loss of family my dad must have felt when he moved across the country.

And I’m betting that they were just as full of questions and uncertainty then as I am now (and especially as I was during my own divorce).

Because I’m reaching the conclusion that when it comes to adulthood, we all have at least a touch of impostor syndrome.

A sense that we’re pretending at mastery. Playacting at being grown-up.

But the truth isn’t that you’re faking it now. It’s that image you had of adults when you were young was mistaken.

Adults don’t know it all. Nor should they.

The only way to learn is to experience. Observe. Experiment. Adjust. And reflect.

And that never ends.

No matter your age.

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “Reaching the Same Age – Adult Impostor Syndrome

  1. Because you’ve kindly read enough of my posts, I suspect you understand just how much this touches on so many things I think and feel as a child of divorce, who grew up to divorce, who is trying to raise a young boy into a man who won’t follow suit.

    These are important ideas.

    That no one really knows what they’re doing. We just convince ourselves all these people have it together because we don’t get to be inside their heads or a fly on the wall when they’re freaking out at home, or singing and dancing in the shower, or losing their temper with a loved one.

    We tell ourselves stories about other that are false. Then we believe stories about ourselves relative to that false premise.

    It’s a really good thing when we figure this out and start treating ourselves kindly.

  2. I remember the time I realized my parents were people, like everyone else. The more I learned about their childhood and their lives, the more I could see them as flawed human beings just like all of us. Yes, we did have the wrong perception of what is was like to be an adult. Sometimes I wonder what my daughter thinks of me. I do share things with her, and she knows when I’m struggling and she sees me dealing with stuff. Maybe that will help her see adults are people too.

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