Overcoming Impostor Syndrome: 7 Tips.

When I was in middle school, being a surfer was the popular social designation. It trumped any other athletic pursuit — soccer, lacrosse, football, cheerleading, wrestling — they all deferred to surfing.

Surfing defined a predominant part of our kiddie culture, complete with special slang and the coolest gear. They were the cool kids; the inner circle — at least, that was the way it seemed to me.

They were amazing.

I was not a surfer. I was also painfully shy. I had friends, but mostly existed on the periphery, excessive awkwardness crippling any chance of breaking into the elite crowd. I was never bullied directly, but, in my mind, I had constructed such a vast disparity in social ranking between myself and the surfers that I would suffer strange psychological symptoms including, but not limited to, panic attacks in their presence.

In our school, one of the biggest, baddest, most respected insults a kid could hurl at another was being called a “poser.” This label was used liberally and enthusiastically by the popular kids as they called out others for misrepresenting themselves through speech and style.

I still fantasized about being like the surfers — their self-confidence was intoxicating. But I was too naive at the time to recognize that self-esteem and personal identity were what made them so magnetic and charismatic. I thought it was the cool surf gear. So although I lived in fear of also being outed as a “poser,” I begged my parents to buy me an overpriced Quiksilver t-shirt and Shark watch, even though these things didn’t fit into our family budget.

I desperately wanted to be seen as authentic, but was certain that I was moments away from…

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Originally published at www.elephantjournal.com.

Bio:

Kristen M. Polito aims for brutal candor in regard to her own struggle with anorexia, bulimia, and bipolar disorder. Besides writing, she loves running, reading, organic gardening, and dogs. If she ever grows up, she wants to be a Stigma Fighter, an Eating Disorders Awareness Champion, and a Mental Health Advocate.

You can read her public blog,SaltandPepperTheEarth@www.saltandpepperthearth.com, viewother publications, follow her on twitter @saltandpepperth, facebook, or visit her author page here.