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Living As An Impostor (33.7)

July 31, 2014

Our dishwasher went on the fritz a few weeks ago, making this terrible noise at the beginning of the wash cyle that made us furrow our brows but did not make us stop washing dishes in it. Because we are rebels that way.

We did some issue specific googling for things like "dishwasher noise" and "is our dishwasher going to explode" and "what is wrong with our dishwasher this appliance thing is basically magic halp" and settled on calling someone to look at it.

The details are really mundane and whatever, but it resulted in us having to make a pretty adult decision about it.

And lo it came to pass that a decision was made with the available information, and it probably wasn't the right one, and I was reminded that making adult decisions suck because we never have enough information to be confident that the decision made was the Right One. And if it's not the Right One, then it could only be the Wrong One.

Cue some depressing texts to my husband about the suckiness of adulthood and the futility of ever making any decision.

No matter what decision I make, a part of me knows it's the wrong one.

No matter how much shit I get done, a part of me knows that there was so much more I should have done.

No matter what I accomplish, a part of me knows that it was a fluke.

No matter how far I've come, a part of me knows that others are more deserving.

No matter how many people think and say I'm great, a part of me knows they will soon find out I've been faking it all along.

There are times where I feel like I'm on the brink of screwing Everything up, and then Everyone will realize I'm a capital-f Fraud (source: the Onion). Like I have fooled everyone into thinking I am qualified and competent.

When something good happens - I am offered a promotion, a compliment, some recognition - I chalk it up to luck and have a number of justifications lined up to explain why it had nothing to do with me or my abilities.

These are the times when my entire outlook on life is filtered through this impostor syndrome: all of my coworkers and friends have their shit more together, are more articulate, more certain, and more deserving that I could ever be.

And this can be paralyzing. It prevents me from asking questions (then they will know I'm not as smart as they think I am); prevents me from seeking feedback (because I'm certain none of it will be accurate); and prevents me from setting reasonable standards and expectations for myself (because that filter skews what is reasonable).

Recognizing the problem and remembering that impostor syndrome is a Real Thing is the first and often hardest step.

It's incredibly difficult to draw the line between feeling inadequate and recognizing areas for improvement, especially while I'm wearing impostor-syndrome-tinted-glasses. It takes time, a lot of self reflection, and a good bullshit meter. Steve is usually amazing for being my bullshit meter because I respect and value his opinion so much that it's not as easy to dismiss.

I've started teaching myself to automatically respond to a compliment with a "Thank you" even if I feel it is excessive: no qualifying it, no backpedelling, no explaining why the compliment is undeserved. Just a "Thank you." And I think this is helping lighten the impostor filter.

Baby steps, yea?

Bird Rave

July 18, 2014

Last week I was crabby.

Last week I was crabby because I didn't get any sleep.

Last week I was crabby because I didn't get any sleep because every morning at 4:30am there was a freaking BIRD RAVE that took place right outside my bedroom window. Squawking and dancing and pulsing bass and flashing disco lights and OMGSHUTUPSHUTUUUUUUP.

They would not shut up.

Every night. And I have scientific proof, with GRAPHS:

(That orange section on the night of Tuesday the 8th shows I was up because Mitzi was sick. As I fell back to sleep at 3:30 I hoped and prayed that the birds would leave me alone for one night. Hahahahahaha.)

Then Wednesday Steve was very helpful and loving and sent me a link to a Time article: Study: Interrupted Sleep May Be as Harmful as No Sleep at All.

Let me just highlight one really fun and amazing part of that article while:

...results proved that just one night of interrupted sleep had negative effects on mood, attention span and cognitive ability. [Prof. Avi] Sadeh believes that several nights of fragmented sleep could have long-term negative consequences equivalent to missing out on slumber altogether.

And I cried.

Bike to Work Day

July 15, 2014

In the beginning of June, Anchorage held it's annual Bike To Work Day which is a very fun day that encourages people to ride their bicycles to work by bribing them with donuts at strategic locations around town.

The rest of the country observes Bike To Work Day in the middle of May, but Anchorage pushed its date back two weeks because the last few years it snowed on Bike to Work Day and all of the donuts froze with no one to eat them. It was heart breaking. This year it was NOT snowing, and I participated in May even without the donuts.

I convinced a few of my coworkers to participate in the official city event, one of whom lives near me and we decided to ride together. I mapped out the most donut-beneficial route from my house to the office: we could hit FIVE donut stands and it would be amazing.

One of the stands had BACON on their donuts and I basically elbowed tall guys in spandex out of the way so I could get one.

The bacon donut was disappointing, but the ride was beautiful.

Here are some notes I jotted down after the event that I never got around to publishing:

  • My body is less efficient in the morning than in the afternoon. And by "less efficient" I mean "hates moving" and "much slower" which is not surprising.
  • Why don't we have any backpacks in the house? I ended up emptying my camera bag and cramming everything I needed into it, which didn't work very well.
  • In order to conserve space in my camera bag, I wore my work bra instead of packing it and wearing a sports bra. Would have been fine if I hadn't been wearing a backpack making me sweaty sweat sweat.
  • The standard keep-mascara-in-work-bag-for-application-at-a-red-light tactic is pretty terrible when I'm not taking my work bag. Also, cream eye liner is crap for faking mascara.
  • Google maps says my route was 8.9 miles, but my GPS tracker says it was 10.4. Which is right? I want to believe my GPS tracker because 10.4 sounds better. But I have no idea.

After the event, the city sent out a survey for participants to fill out. It was pretty basic stuff: what zip code do you live in? what zip code do you work in? how long did it take you on your bike? how long does it usually take you in a car? did you feel safe during your ride?

When I got back from our trip to Philadelphia, I had an email from someone at the city asking me to call her. Apparently there was a drawing associated with the survey that I had completely forgotten about: one participant would win a bicycle.

Probably halfway through the call I had to stop the lady and confirm: Wait, are you telling me that I just won a bicycle?

You guys.
I WON A BICYCLE.

I went to the local Trek bike store and had a small photo op and they ordered a Trek 7.1 FX bike in my frame size for me all for me for FREE.

Yesterday it arrived in the store and I picked it up last night. The employees were so great, even after I admitted that I've never owned a bicycle that properly fit me, and I've never owned a brand new bicycle - only used ones from garage sales and Craigslist and I never paid more than $70 for one.

And now I own a brand new awesome bicycle that's amazing and fits me properly and is way lighter than any bike I've ever ridden.

So I rode it to work today! Because it's mine and I can!

My initial thoughts:

  • Holy cow I can go fast on this thing. How did I average over 13mph at 6:30am when my body doesn't want to get out of bed, let alone do any physical activity? Lighter frame? The better fit? A better gear system... thing? I'm just really excited about the new bike?
  • Used my camera bag again, and oh man getting that lens divider back into it is a PAIN I need a saddlebag rack for this new bike.
  • Wore my sports bra to handle all of the sweat, and completely forgot to pack a regular bra so I had to wear my sweaty sports bra all day. Ugh.
  • Man this bike is so fun to ride, I don't have to keep readjusting my body to stay on the seat because the frame fits me.

I can't wait for many more miles on it.

Additional Content

Hi, I'm Valette

I'm a photographer based out of Anchorage, Alaska. I've recently become a wife, a stepmother, and a homeowner. Life is pretty awesome. You can email me anytime. Learn more...

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