The Imposter

I’m here, at last. Maybe this is where I’m supposed to be, where I’m going to find my niche. I can’t be certain though, because I’m learning the ropes as fast as possible, trying to cram everything in.

Do I belong here? I can’t be sure.

It’s easy to look the part, wearing an ID badge and curling into a seat to befriend others. It’s easy to be the part, taking diligent notes and cramming sheets of information into a rapidly-improving memory. Learning is the best part of the process, at first, because it allows for mistakes and there’s the expectation of the occasional mess-up. There’s forgiveness to be found here, it makes for an easy learning curve.

Then reality sets in.

I’m really an imposter now. I’m here and pretending to fit in, doing all that’s required and a bit more. Encouragement comes in a steady stream, practically spilling from a tap. Even now, it isn’t the end of the world to make a mistake because there are still people guiding you, still ready to step in should you do something wrong.

This feels like a game, at first, one to which I don’t know all the rules. I’m trying to play, watching and listening as others around me do perfectly and measuring myself against them all. It doesn’t matter that they outdo me in terms of experience, in terms of knowing what they are doing.

Sometimes, I wait. The axe will drop, I expect. “Why are you here?” is what my imagination supplies for dialogue. “What are you doing?” is another favourite. I try to hush my voice, imagining people listening to me talk – imagining their reactions; and compact my body so others don’t see me. If they don’t see me, perhaps they can’t judge me. A creative mind is a curse here, because it’s telling me all the ways in which others are judging me. It’s wearing my resolve, breaking it down until it can be mended again.

Only the words never come. The ones that do come are friendly, cheerful.

I’m an imposter, you see. I hide in plain sight, dressed like you and talking like you. In this context, you and I are just the same. I’m learning all the little details, the ones that make us the same. It’d almost be described as insidious, if it wasn’t so innocuous.

(here’s the thing though: six weeks become six months, and then a year. practice becomes habit, habit becomes perfect and the result is that an imposter fits in, making a home amidst pretence and stories and hidden lies and –

no-one even sees it happen.

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