London, Impostor Syndrome

Unfortunately, this still isn’t an entry about what happened the past couple of days. I’m actually a bit concerned now because there’s so much crammed in, I’m a bit hazy about which ideas belong to whom. But this isn’t the point of this entry.

I write because it’s been awhile since I’ve genuinely felt angry, the bring-you-to-tears kind of anger, and I feel the need to unpick it.

Yesterday, we were going through Neelands and Goode’s dramatic conventions and our professor dryly offered us alternative conventions to “role-on-the-wall.” We learned about “circle of life,” “iceberg,” objects (I’m not sure if this is how it’s referenced in the book), and so on. We were put into groups and one of my peers said she was looking for the one with the empty figure drawn. I smiled and told her, “That’s ‘role-on-the-wall.'”

She told me I was wrong and that everything we were doing was “role-on-the-wall” and another of our peers supported her. The coward that I am, I just very slowly, in a very measured manner said, “I suppose we were trained differently in our MA, that’s why our terminologies are different.”

I was so angry, I couldn’t focus anymore, and because I am who I am, no one could tell I was furious. I didn’t write my thesis on the conventions only to be told I’m “wrong” so flat-out. It’s not like I haven’t designed and implemented a couple of conventions-approach based programmes. But I couldn’t bring myself to push either because, honestly, in the end, who gives a fuck about these titles. (If you write about them, you do.) It took me a good half-hour to an hour to bury my feelings deep, deep into the ground, and cool my head. (I would have said ‘let go,’ but look at what I’m doing now. I obviously haven’t let go.)

This peer and I happened to be roommates and this person sincerely is nice; there have just been strained moments. Before we talked about topics that had nothing to do with our field, she asked me, “Have you had a lot of experience doing this work?”

Because I am who I am, I stumbled through my words, describing some things I have done, but I probably made them sound vague that I seemed like an idiot instead.

Have I had a lot of experience doing this work?

I’m still learning and obviously not enough to have confidence in myself. But have I had a lot of experience doing this work?

Is it because I’m short that people underestimate me? Is it because I’m quiet that people suddenly get surprised and describe me as a “sleeping giant?” Is this a failing on my part or is this something I can thrust unto others for not taking the time to get to know me? And when people do get to know me, why do I have to talk about my achievements? Why do I have to talk about my achievements for people to trust I know what I’m doing? (Do I really know what I’m doing?) Do I need to put a sign that I’m a PhD student on my head? Would I have reached this point if I had not have had a lot of experience doing this work? Maybe I’m still not doing enough. But how much is enough that all the voices, outside and inside, would shut up and just leave me alone?