Last week I was walking through my office on my way back from refilling my tea cup and I had this incredibly surreal feeling that, “Oh my god, this is what I do for my JOB. This is where I work and what I do!” Because most of the time I still feel like I am 20 and I’m in the audience at a poetry reading, waiting for my turn to go up and read a part of a story or a poem or something, and I’m still trying to haphazardly network, or catch a break or work up the nerve.
For a hot second I couldn’t fathom how I got here, to this place, with a real job editing and writing and doing all of the things (some of the few things) I feel good at. Coming up with pithy headlines and catching mistakes in other people’s writing, reworking sentences, and writing my own sales copy about fun projects – that’s what I do and I’m good at it. I don’t think 20 year old me would ever believe this was possible. Twenty year old me didn’t even know a job like this existed, let alone a career. And here I am. Taking full advantage of the free mint tea in the kitchen, enjoying my view of Mt. Rainier from my desk, and going to town with a virtual highlighter.
But then there is the downside. There is the bad part of feeling like I’m still 20, just figuring it out. I second guess myself constantly. I don’t think there is 1 day that goes by that I don’t have some sort of paranoia that my boss will find out the truth: That I’m not actually as good as I say I am. She’ll find out that there are lots of people way better than me at my job, that I’m faking my way through employment. Every day at some point I wonder, “Is today the day I’m going to be fired? Is she going to see something I missed and find out that I’m clearly not cut out for this?”
I know that a large part of that is absolutely ridiculous. I know it on some level, but on another level the worry and fear is way too intense not to take some of it seriously. The thought of, “oh my god, I can’t believe I get to do this,” is so closely tied to, “and if I’m not careful it’s all going to go up in smoke.” I am an impostor in grown up clothes. I wear my entry badge like I’ve worn one forever, but in truth I’ve almost forgotten at home many times. I walk with confidence back and forth from the kitchen, passing the desks of designers, passing the conference rooms full of virtual graphs, a video conference, important people talking sales-numbers, and I act as though I know exactly where I’m going. Except I’m just faking it – the confidence of belonging is just a facade.
Maybe if I’m good enough at faking it no one will notice, and then one day it might be real.