Have you ever been in a room, a room in which you knew you belonged, and yet felt as if you didn’t? As if you being there was a great, big lie?
Each week, I attend a bipolar support group. Each week I hear stories from other diagnosed individuals where they describe being unable to work, get out of bed, or stop spending money, where their moods and lives are in a constant state of flux.
Myself? I typically stay in the same range of emotion for weeks-I used to think months-at a time. The biggest variations are caused by my anxiety, boys, or when I don’t take the time to care for myself or allow my routine to diminish. Outside of that, I typically don’t feel as if my case is as severe as others. This causes me to believe that I don’t belong.
Within the personal finance community, I also sometimes feel as if I don’t belong. Although I began seeking a more concrete understanding of what ‘personal finance’ means in 2013, I still doubt that I belong to the community.
I live with my parents and don’t have very many bills outside ones I’ve created, such as purchasing my car, cancer insurance, life insurance, identity theft protection, and my investments. I also don’t have insane levels of debt from my brief stint in secondary education; I had a trust fund. My car, at roughly $13,500, has been my largest single line of debt. My credit cards have only ever gotten to about $2,000.
This feeling, this anxiety of invading into somewhere I don’t belong is known as Impostor Syndrome. Impostor Syndrome is when an individual dismisses their achievements or belonging to luck, timing, or lying to others. I know I am diagnosed as bipolar, that alone entitles me to be a part of my support group. I know I am more knowledgeable than many of my peers in personal finance due to my interest in the matter, that alone entitles me to be a part of the personal finance community.
Bipolar is different for every single person, not only that, but there are multiple forms under the bipolar umbrella, so my symptoms being different or not as severe as other individuals is perfectly acceptable. Fact of the matter is that I struggle with my diagnosis, both in regards to acceptance and management.
Personal finance, too, is different for every single person. We all have incredibly different situations and mindsets that guide our actions. While I just applied an additional $1,000 from my federal tax refund toward the principle on my car, others might have invested that money in hopes of maxing out their Roth for the first time; still others may have spent the money on a remodel or shopping spree. Just because my story is different, that does not discredit me. I have an interest in personal finance and that is enough to give me a place in the community.
Tell me, have you ever suffered from Impostor Syndrome?