Brothers Campfire on Impostor Syndrome Experienced?

Hello, Benjamin from Brother’s Campfire here!

The other day, I wrote a post with thoughts on impostor syndrome. 

In short, I hypothesize that sometimes people are faking it to get where they are in life and are worried that they will be found out for the frauds they are.

There are many ways to look at Impostor Syndrome. While convinced I do not suffer from this, I find the topic fascinating and found an instance where I may have experienced this a little.

An undereducated man in the traditional sense of high school or college, I struggled with the idea of intellectual inferiority.

In the early years of my life, I was obsessed with reading. Comics were the gateway drug to the addiction. Some favorites included the comfort and grounded nature of Peanuts, the philosophy and excitement of Calvin and Hobbes, and the complexity and deeper meaning of Dunesbury.

Visuals were still important at this stage of development and encyclopedias have cool pictures. A hunger for information coupled with graphics brought me to read and reread most parts of the World Book Encyclopedia in compulsive repetition.

The process was more or less random. I would pull out my favorite letter for the day and begin consuming large amounts of information in alphabetical order. 

This contributed to a considerable amount of randomness to this day. 

For example, Agriculture, Antarctica, and Anteaters are subjects that can be grouped in a single conversation, and I have to catch myself. 

World book, encyclopedia, Brothers Campfire

A bonus perk of reading encyclopedias like a novel is that alliteration is nearly effortless. 

In seventh grade, I was two levels ahead of my peers and life looked promising. I dreamed of being a chemist with a minor in entomology. 

Circumstances out of my control prevented graduation from high school.

Disappointed, I set off to make my mark in the world without finishing. 

This removed opportunity for college or the coveted scholarship. 

Not one to dilly dally, I worked as a cashier and moved on to construction and demolition, and later to warehousing and cooking. A typical week was 60 plus hours to afford a small apartment while supporting my wife and daughter. 

My body sore from endless hours of dead-end, monotonous labor brought realization and wisdom that I needed to advance my skills or forever be stunted in job growth.

I hit the books and taught myself algebra, or at least enough to get a General Education Diploma with high honors. 

This certificate was the gateway into a world where I could eat better while working fewer hours.

Already married with a child and another on the way, I needed a job with health care benefits and stability. 

I became a correctional officer. 

The Academy seemed important and I absorbed every word, taking extensive notes. 

If I didn’t pass the Academy, I would be begging for my jobs back. A lot was at stake.

Everyone around seemed like they had it all together, walking tall and confident, cell phone in one hand, special order coffee in the other. 

Lunches were ordered from local restaurants and new cars with temp tags filled the parking lot. 

Every class was filled with buzzwords and acronyms in a new and complex language.

Breaks were spent in discussion of who knew who, name brand equipment, and CSU Pueblo, a local university.

While outwardly confident and determined to better my position in life, Lunch was a rotation of peanut butter sandwiches and ramen, and I drove a 50cc scooter the 44 miles to the Academy. I didn’t have any connections and I would not have money for the required gear until my first paycheck.

Inwardly, I felt pretty small like I didn’t belong there. I kept my mind receptive to every nuance of expression and every spoken word. When I worked graveyards, I read as much policy and regulation as my mind could absorb. 

Reality struck fast.

Of the 100 or so recruits, only about half came to work any more than a month or so. A lot of car payments weren’t made and I learned that the graduation rate for CSU Pueblo was low and dropouts were a big pool of applicants. 

I found out that some college kids go to the Academy for a paycheck and then quit.

So many other things revealed themselves that didn’t make sense. 

Early on, I had a superior that could barely comprehend elementary school reading. I had another supervisor tell me Federal law did not apply to our job. 

It was culture shock.

I came in fighting for groceries to find gross incompetence and zero ambition. 

Mildly infuriated, I asked my superior who could not read about his education and experience. 

I learned a lot.

What was shocking is that at some or many public schools, if you show up and attend class, you will get a piece of paper that says you can work.

 It doesn’t matter what grades you get. I discovered College is a little stricter, but not by much. 

I then learned painfully that being a corrections officer is an entry-level job. 

Here’s where impostor syndrome comes to play. I do not have it. Many others deserve to feel inadequate. There was no work done to get in any position. 

I wonder sometimes about college. 

Mid-career, I have worked with Master’s Degrees that cannot think critically, give measured responses, or explain their position on a topic.

I have not attended and so cannot give an accurate assessment of how years of education left them this way.Β Perhaps schools teach what to think over the how.

In conclusion, intellectual inferiority is not something I struggle with

I will say, sometimes you have to shed the trappings of an old life and take on the new, but that deserves a post on it’s own.  

Author: Benjamin

Benjamin Thiel is a husband, father, correctional professional and author of The Ongoing Tale at Brothers Campfire.

24 thoughts on “Brothers Campfire on Impostor Syndrome Experienced?

    1. Benjamin says:

      I would agree. Yet, we must thrive. I suppose we have to keep pushing forward anyway! 🀠πŸ”₯

  1. jilldomschot says:

    This is a good post. I often feel like I have imposter syndrome, despite recognizing the same things you have in the course of your life, such as that people who appear to have it together don’t and college, esp above the bachelor level, can make you dumb. Like, can’t follow a basic logical argument dumb.

      1. dumbestblogger says:

        Yeppers. I spent a summer working the graveyard shift at Walmart in Prairie Du Chien Wisconsin. Interesting times.

  2. YouLittleCharmer says:

    “…you have to shed the trappings of an old life and take on the new, but that deserves a post on it’s own.”

    – and I hope you write it my friend πŸ–€πŸ–€

    1. Benjamin says:

      With your encouragement, I just may. Thank you. It is an honor to call you friend.

  3. Jewish Young Professional "JYP" says:

    I think there are a few different truths here:

    1) Education does not equal intelligence. Sometimes there is correlation, but sometimes there is not.

    2) There is a concept called Imposter Syndrome* in which a person who is fully qualified feels that they are not sufficiently qualified for it. Not everyone has this. Some people have no need to feel intellectually inferior. And some people rightfully should feel intellectually unqualified for their roles.

    *By the way, I don’t think Imposter Syndrome is a particularly useful or helpful concept for self-improvement and career development.

    1. Benjamin says:

      I think you have a high level of wisdom. Thank you for the insight. I agree on all points! 🀠πŸ”₯


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