Imposter Syndrome

I made an epic two-day drive after Christmas, from Indiana to Arizona. A week before Christmas my oldest son got new orders and is now stationed at a base out west. With some time off over the break I had the luxury of being able to head out there to drop off his car and some gifts, and hang out. Unfortunately a couple of the things I wanted to see on base were closed, which limited our options. In our travels, we stopped off in town at an army surplus store. They carried all manner of weapons and related paraphernalia, uniforms, patches, a box of assorted MREs (which made my son semi-nostalgic for basic training), car stickers. And, up front, a countertop display of insignia and badges.

After a few more minutes he had seen what he came to see, and we left. As we sat in the car getting ready to drive back to the base, he said, “I know where all that ‘stolen valor‘ stuff comes from now.” Yeah. I don’t get it. I mean, I do get it, but I don’t get it. I couldn’t even bring myself to buy a shirt from the gift shop one of the museums at Ft. Leonard Wood with the name of my son’s unit on it. It didn’t feel right, like it was something that I hadn’t earned the right to wear. I don’t know how you walk around in the world pretending to be something you’re not.

Imposter syndrome is a thing amongst my online PLN. Everybody’s worried they are not as good as the teachers they see posting fabulous content pretty much daily. And of course, there are a lot of frauds out there,  playing the numbers game of followers/favs/RTs. The reality is that we’re probably doing fine, and we’re a bit blinded by the constant stream of awesomeness in our TL. Just like gamblers in Vegas only tell the stories of the huge wins, and never about the nights they leave the casino floor flat broke, in the online world most of us only rarely share our disasters.  But there are some generous, reflective folk out there. Which is good. Most of us want to get better. I mean, that’s what everyone was posting about last night, right? Resolutions for 2019? Everybody has a plan for the new year.


Sometimes that plan needs adjusting. Maybe the idea here is not to be someone we’re not, but to be the person we could be? Realistic, manageable, incremental, achievable goals.

I’ve got a handful of things I hope to implement in the classroom in 2019. Nothing earth-shattering, nothing anybody would ever write a book about, but maybe more like a tune-up. Focusing on best practices in some areas where I’ve slipped a bit: Planning bellringers and exit tickets/check for understanding intentionally, daily use of flexible grouping based on understanding and need. More consistent parent contact. My department chair and my evaluator helped me identify areas of possible improvement.

It’s good to have people.


My youngest son got me a book for Christmas. He knows me so well.

No Fs Given

Because 14-year-olds think titles like that are hilarious. It reads like the ramblings of a stoned college freshman sometimes, but it contained a kernel of truth: Limiting where we spread our attention helps us focus on the really important things. The crazy thing was, how similar the basic idea of TSAONGAF is to another book I read recently:

Grace of Enough
This one probably will get a “One-Man Book Club” post sometime soon.

And to a concept I’ve been pondering lately.

Memento Mori Journal
I think the sticker on my water bottle might have freaked out my seatmate on the flight home from Zona.

I bought the bundle of the Memento Mori journal and the Lenten devotional, and I’ve been waiting for the right moment to put them to use. My Day One plan for 2019 is to start pen & paper journaling. I think there’s some things that rightly belong in that book rather than in this space. But most importantly, I think it’ll keep me honest. Things in that journal won’t get linked to my social media. I won’t be checking to see who’s liked and shared (c’mon, don’t pretend like you don’t check yours too).

It’s hard to be fake when you’re remembering that you shall die, right?

Author: thedullguy

High School Math/PLTW teacher, Valparaiso High School, Valparaiso, IN. Opinions mine.

One thought on “Imposter Syndrome”

  1. Hi there, thanks for the great article. I have a question for you. How should I handle imposter syndrome? I talked to my doctor and she mentioned it to me. Thanks in advance for your answer.


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