The Dance Dress & Imposter Syndrome

Ever heard of Imposter Syndrome? I encountered the beast in a very academic way when I started my PhD program. Sitting in an auditorium style classroom at my fancy schmancy school working by the light of my laptop, I looked around and thought to myself, I have NO business being here. The guy sitting next to me was a rocket scientist from NASA – I am NOT kidding, a Rocket Scientist from NASA! And the woman sitting on the other side of me was a graduate from HEC Paris and taught at Sorbonne. Now I’m no slouch, but damn. Damn. I have multiple degrees from good schools and I’m sort of a big deal in my little world, but Damn. I was very sure that there had been a mistake in my acceptance and that pretty soon that mistake would be revealed and my whole adventure into the world of getting a PhD would be over as quickly as it had started. THAT, my friend, is imposter syndrome.

Luckily for me this really insanely awesome professor said, “I know you are ALL sitting here thinking that you don’t belong here, this is known as imposter syndrome…” I figured that he hadn’t realized that Mr. Rocket Scientist and Ms. HEC Sarbonne were sitting there not worried about a thing. Turns out, Mr. Rocket Scientist was nervous as all heck and had printed out EVERY email and instruction we had gotten and put them into four giant binders that he carried around everywhere and Ms. HEC Sarbonne didn’t make it through the week before running back to the City of Lights and a brick of brie.

Academically, imposter syndrome is just a fancy name for feeling like a fraud. Oddly enough, understanding it academically helped me to deal with it and overcome it with regard to my PhD. I’m no slouch, after all.

But I got the chance to feel it all over again when I started taking ballet classes. I pretty much feel it in every single class I take. So I experience it a lot because I go to class a lot. Every class I definitely feel like a fraud, a wanna be, a make-believe. I actually feel sorry for my instructors and I’m pretty sure that the only reason they don’t ask me not to come back is that I’m $15 a class and I take a lot of classes, so that’s a lot of $15’s. One of the things that is really hard for me is the attire. I want to wear the leo & tights because I recognize how it makes it easier for both me and the instructor to see what I’m doing with my body and make corrections. But something in my head makes me feel like I don’t actually deserve to wear a leo.

I bought this completely cute ballet dress, leo with skirt attached basically. Completely adorable. I haven’t worn it to class. I almost did yesterday. But I wimped out and ended up in my tee shirt and leggings. I really want to wear the dress. I really want to move on from feeling like its all make believe. I get tired of feeling like an imposter, pretending to be a dancer.

Maybe I’ll get brave soon or maybe the dance dress will just keep hanging in my closet.

2 thoughts on “The Dance Dress & Imposter Syndrome

  1. An entertaining presentation of a serious subject, and one that will bring comfort to many of us! It’s good to boost others’ self-confidence (and one’s own!) from time to time. Re the leotard – I find a good compromise is to wear a gauze skirt over it, ideally of the same colour: it discreetly masks one’s middle area but shows what one is doing with one’s legs. A number of us wear them in my classes.

    • So true, Anne, it is good to give each other a confidence boost! One of these days very soon, I’m gonna get out of that tee shirt & leggings and into something dancey and cute!

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