So heres the thing, my entire life, I have had a feeling like I don’t belong.
It could have been the three different primary schools that I attended, each time not feeling like I was part of an already formed group.
It could have been living with one parent and then visiting the other on the weekends.
It could have been the way my step mother excluded me, it was hard for her to form a relationship with me when she already had three children to care for. (Thats a whole other story!)
Whatever it was, I felt like it was written on my forehead. FRAUD! The feeling followed me wherever I went.
Adolescent to adult-
It was evident during high school when I liked to float around the different social groups, not really settling anywhere in particular. Enjoying all of the people that I hung out with, but not really feeling like any particular group were MY bunch of weirdos.
When I received my Bachelor in Health Science over 17 years ago, I was amazed that suddenly no one was watching over me and I could proceed to support my clients without supervision, FRAUD ALERT!
When we decided to start a family, it looks us a few shots with a few bumps along the way. When we did conceive, I felt like I couldn’t really join in the conversations about babies because it didn’t feel real.
Even when I had birthed my first child, I was so self conscious out in public. Aware that I was taking up space, that my child may have made a noise that would bother a stranger, it was easier to make a mad dash in get what I needed and get out.
It was around this time that I noticed that there was a little more to those overthinking thoughts that were going around and around in my mind.
It became really evident when I found myself circling the car park with my son in his car seat and I just couldn’t bring myself to park the car. I began going out less which only amplified the feeling of not belonging and actually stopped me from feeling connected to the outside world in general.
Our mothers group would organise a meeting, I would have to really talk myself into going. Lovely group of women, all in the same situation as I was, and yet in hindsight I would go through a full stress response about the meeting, repeatedly.
I started to control the time my son would go to sleep. I struggled to breastfeed in general, let alone around others, so I would make sure that he was scheduled to feed before I took him out or expressed a feed for the meeting. I was micromanaging and controlling everything to the best of my ability, it was all I could do to feel like I had a handle on it. Of course everyone knows that the more you try to control a babies routine, the more pear shaped it would become.
I felt weird in social settings-
I would find myself rehearsing conversations before a social event and then replaying them after, wondering what I could have said to make it better. My fraud alert would go off any time I would meet someone new. By isolating myself, I felt like I had lost my social skills, I felt like I had nothing in common with so many people.
My closest friends were a different story, but they had no idea that I felt like this nor the depths of what I discovered was anxiety.
You see, we plaster a smile across our faces and get on with it. I had this amazing mask of managing to appear more confident than I felt. I think that was part of the reason why I would replay the conversations in my head, I wasn’t really acting myself and in truth I was waiting for the other persons fraud radar to go off.
While I was smiling, my stomach felt heavy, my legs would feel like led. My mind simply could not focus, it was a little like a toddler on caffeine, totally all over the place. The conversation wouldn’t flow, it felt stilted, forced and just not quite right. I felt like I was acting weird. This made me want to hide even more.
If this sounds like you, you are not alone!!
Eventually I began sharing how I was feeling, noticing when I felt triggered in a situation and just started being honest.
Guess what! Others told me that they felt like that too. In fact, when I shared how I was feeling, the majority of the time it would be met with, “ohhhh me too!”
Successful, women who looked like they had it all together also felt out of place?! You mean that the smile that they had plastered on their face was also not actually real?
What the heck is happening to us? Why do we feel that we can not talk about this? Why do we hide in the hope that no one notices? Why is there fear in our truth?
Ever since those early days, I now make a point of telling people when I haven’t got it all together. My motto is when you feel like you have dropped the ball on one thing, it means you are kicking arse at another. More often then not, when we drop the ball, it comes from trying to fit too much in.
I have learnt when to respectfully say “no” and not stretch myself so thin these days as I no longer want to live my life feeling like I am running from one task to the next.
Even to this day, I know that the old stories of feeling like a fraud can pop back up for me, but I now have the tools that I need. My intention for sharing my story is to start more conversations, lets get brave and start talking about it.
If you are thinking that this story is familiar for you, maybe it is time we had a chat. While I take a team approach when it comes to mental health, a Naturopath can offer so much to your individual care.
Why not book in for a free chat to see what Nicole can do for you….