When You Feel Like A Fraud & It’s Hard to Say Why: Imposter Syndrome, Perfectionism, and High-Functioning Anxiety

Achievement. Busyness. Perfection. That's what high-functioning anxiety looks like. That's what I look like. Because I'm trying to hide the crazy inside. But when it creeps to the surface, it transforms into nervous habits. Nail biting. Foot tapping. Hair flipping. I'm trying to soothe myself from myself. And I hope no one notices. But if you look close enough, you can see it. You can see it through unanswered text messages. Flakiness. Nervous laughter. The panic that flashes through my eyes when a plan changes. When anything changes. Because I hate change. I think it goes back to childhood. Because when something changed back then, my entire life went up in smoke. Because change to me, at the time, meant divorce, foreclosure, and loneliness. I suppose I fear that's what will happen when or if things change. So I pretend I'm OK. I pretend so no one realizes I am, in fact, a fraud —at least that's what it feels like a lot of the time. Because high-functioning anxiety tastes like a snake slithering up my back, clamping its jaws shut where my shoulders meet my neck. It's the punch-in-the-gut stomach aches —like my body is confusing answering an email or picking up the phone with being attacked by a lion. Because I'm a bad friend. I'm a bad person. I'm not good enough. Why couldn't I finish that thing I was supposed to finish? Better yet, why couldn't I start? Because if you don't start then you don't have to think about stopping. About failing.  Because I'm afraid to fail. And I know you can't get something wrong if you don't do that something, right? Because the imposter inside tells me what's the point anyway? All the while, I appear perfectly calm. Because high functioning anxiety is like an attack hidden by smiles, concealed by a mask of the girl I wish I really was. And yeah, it's not all day every day but it does, in fact, creep up. And when it creeps up, it’s always me wanting to stay busy but also avoiding. Avoiding to the point that sometimes important things don’t always get done. Because that part of me would rather let things pile up than admit I'm overwhelmed. Because I have to be everything for everyone, right? Wrong...

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