Sunday, March 20, 2011

I’m An Impostor

Is it just me, or do we all go around pretending as if we know what we are doing?

I think it’s just me.

This question stems from the fact that I am presently having to face one of my greatest fears—to go back to work as a Registered Nurse.

I think the world is conspiring against me. I feel like a character in a book for whom things just keep going wrong and getting worse. I mean, doesn’t the world know who I am? Don’t they know that someone should have delicately suggested to me early on in nursing school that I might want to consider another profession, one that if you kill people off one by one it’s far more socially acceptable? Like being a writer, for example. (Note to self: Do not give future employer blog address)

I’ve been having nightmares of the sort where you go to work and realize you have forgotten your clothes. Nightmares where you wake up quite relieved that it didn’t really happen—it couldn't’ really happen. Not in real life, right?

Or could it? One time—in real life—I went to a fancy dinner and realized when I got there that I forgot to change out of my puffy slippers, causing me to wonder if I could accidentally show up in only a robe someday. Or worse.

In my latest nightmares, if I happen to find my way to the hospital, not only am I missing certain essential articles of clothing, but I can’t seem to find the floor I’m supposed to be working on. And if I do find the floor, I forget to check on certain patients for the entire day, and when I go to give report, someone comes and tells me they are dead. Nevermind that it was a postpartum floor. Or, in some dreams, I forget to show up to work for weeks when I suddenly remember I have a job—which is probably in the best interest of the people I’d have killed.

I think I might actually be from an alien world and I’ve been put here as an experiment—told I should try to blend in, act like all those human people.

But the truth is, I’m an impostor.

Postscript: Lest you think I’m completely incompetent (partly, yes, but not completely), I have actually worked over three years of my past life (pre-writing life) as a nurse and have not yet forgotten, or killed, anyone. Cross your fingers that my track record stays clean.


  1. OMG! (I try to limit my use of that acronym.) I'm an ex-nurse. I left the field in 1999 and I STILL have those nightmares. The same flavor, forgetting patients, showing up in the wrong outfit, etc. I always felt like an impostor as a nurse even though I was quite good at it.
    It's a tough job and I commend you for doing it.

  2. Pay it no mind. Some dreams are just left-over mumbo jumbo of the day. I know you are a competent, marvelous nurse. Think of all those lucky patients you'll be attending to.

  3. Pamo, I'm so glad to hear that! I really thought it was just me. I quit the postpartum floor in '99 as well. It's been so long!

    Manzanita, Thanks for the vote of confidence.

  4. Sounds like a stressful job. But you're not alone, for ages as a teacher I had that same "impostor" feeling, especially in regard to "ESL" my second teaching specialty.

    The funny thing is, for a while I was certain everyone could see through me, that they knew who I really was. But eventually it dawned on me that they didn't notice and I was almost amazed that everyone was treating me like a real teacher.

    Nowadays I even feel like a real teacher!

  5. Hah! I never heard the slippers at the dinner party story, and here I thought we had shared most of our embarrassing moments with one another. You're going to be awesome at whatever you do, Karyn. You always are!

  6. Akseli, that's awesome. I guess I can just go around pretending then, with utmost confidence that nobody will see through me. Actually, the thought alone of being inconspicuous gives me some measure of confidence. Maybe one day I will forget I'm pretending.

    Roxy, I probably have other embarrassing moments I've been too mortified to share. We should have a few good talks coming our way. I wish I could always have people like you as a patient--people who think I'm awesome. :)

  7. Oh I've had those dreams. I hate them! In fact, I had one last night where I was hanging out with a bunch of people and couldn't find my clothes. Weird for sure.

    Thanks for the comment on my "Boldness" post. Adjusting to new situations is hard, even when the new situation is a good one (I'm a walking example of that). But you're strong, you can do it! Heck, anyone who can be a nurse is strong. I'm not squeamish, but there is no way I could be a nurse. I seriously admire people like you :D

    You go girl! You can do it!