Written By Aspen, – Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

As the days get shorter and the nights get colder, I’ve been finding myself in my own head more than ever before. As is usually the case for me, I’ve been burying myself in tasks non-stop as a way to avoid the self-talk, but at times I occasionally slip up. As a result, I’ve been doing some planning of my future and despite coming a long way with getting comfortable with uncertainty, my need for control is what centers me when the uncertainty becomes just too…well, uncertain. The irony of it all is truly my planning of the future when the future itself is constantly changing. The truth of it all comes from my need to think about more tasks that I can take on in the future as a means of validating myself in an attempt to prove myself to none other than myself.

This is one of the many symptoms of my classic case of imposter syndrome and sadly, the more that people praise me (both professionally and personally), the deeper I dive into feeling like I am not the person they think I am and therefore am not deserving of this praise. This week alone, I can count six different occasions where people expressed their predictions that I will go far in life because people like me. As someone who is often told by close friends that I was once intimidating to them, I always chuckle a little inside when people tell me that they really like me. I’m very much like a pomegranate, frustratingly hard to crack but soft, sweet, and fragile once you finally get to the good part. So, while I am flattered at the notion of this validation on six separate occasions this week all I can wonder is: why? Why now? Why me? Is this genuine or am I just being told this as a way to pacify me when I accidentally spill too much about the future accomplishment I hope to one day reach?

Imposter syndrome comes and goes in waves and as I am sure that you can see, it just so happens to be hitting extra hard these days. Almost as if it’s fate, I came across an article about Black women facing increased feelings of imposter syndrome since the increased attention, both genuine and performative, towards Black people in response to centuries-old racial injustice in America gaining so much public attention this year. The article listed the newfound influx of validation feeling overwhelming as we try to parse through the constant praise to determine whether it is real or just another performance, especially when coming from non-Black people in our lives. The article described exactly how I’ve been feeling! It went on to list what the means for America that so many Black women are experiencing this but what it really boiled down to is that there is much work to be done for America and for Aspen. 

This week’s praise might stem from race-based guilt or it might truly be genuine that those around me find my personality and work ethic comforting and nice company. But I may never know which is which. So I need to find ways to talk myself out of this spiral created by Imposter syndrome. On my best day, I carry on with the hope that I can be an inspiration to those around me. I want to motivate others to be their best self and if I am successful in doing that then they must trust me. I then force myself to remember that this trust is built upon the foundation of my honest disposition and/or knowledge-based expertise. I have the charisma. I am reliable and hard-working. I have the degrees. I have the experience. If others see it, then I need to acknowledge it for myself even if that means telling myself over and over again. I have worked hard to achieve my prior accomplishments and I will continue to work hard to narrate the story that I want to tell about myself and my road ahead. 

– Aspen, Official Contributor of The Crowned Series

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