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4 October 2021

Impostor Syndrome – The Nutcracker

Sometimes my impostor syndrome takes on some very vivid imagery. For example, when I’m reading philosophy or psychology or literature that is complex and potentially beyond my scope…

I am just a child in a room of adults. My wide gaze longs from the children’s table, where I sit, across the room to the adults’ table. They have the better turkey meat, the wine, and the interesting discourse, yet these are inaccessible to me because I am just a child, not yet grown – not yet passed the test.

The other day, it came to me even more powerfully as the party scene from The Nutcracker Ballet: I sat in a plain nightdress, crisscross applesauce under the Christmas tree, cradling my unopened gift, rapt – rapt as I watched the adults roll and spin, chatter and hoot, in a reel. The steps, the tune, foreign to my childlike mind. I see my future: someday I will be one of those layered, corseted, plumed ladies and I will know that rhythm and dance, but not tonight. Tonight, it is an act I can only witness with wonder and longing, because I am not yet old (wise? worldly?) enough to partake.

Thus sits my impostor syndrome when I read philosophy. “Not yet ripe, not yet ripe,” it wags a finger at me, “you’re just a child in an adult’s world.” Still, there I am, always with my ear against the door, or perched on the top step, or nudging aside the curtain, well past my bedtime, longing for the day I am sufficiently ripe to join the conversation.

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