Unexpected Impostor Syndrome (written at the beginning of February)

“Only women get impostor syndrome.” A good friend and colleague said this to me recently. Apparently it’s a lesson her older sister taught her and it is one she has learned very well. Me? I didn’t have an older sister to teach me and it’s definitely something with which I struggle. (I’m not convinced it’s completely true, but I do think impostor syndrome is a far bigger issue for women than for men.)

I’ve been thinking a lot about this idea as I’ve been on administrative leave, worried I might never be able to return to teaching. I’ve questioned who I am if I am not teaching. In addition, there has been so much shame in facing this accusation. The idea that anyone, even someone who doesn’t really know me, could think I am capable of harming a child is very hard to hear. Telling others why I haven’t been at work has filled me with shame.

I have not seen my students in more than six weeks. If I get to return to them, will they still see me as their teacher? I never dreamed I’d have impostor syndrome about a job I’ve done for more than twenty years. But this experience has definitely made me wonder if I am capable of doing my job and doing it well.


(written at the beginning of February)

2 replies on “Unexpected Impostor Syndrome (written at the beginning of February)”

  1. Charlene O'Brien says:

    Jennifer, I pray you went in with as much Jennifer as possible! Your kids expected that and your friends hoped for that. I also know after a traumatic experience our perspectives are a little different. Adjustments must be made over time to make room for the newer Jennifer. You will. You’ve managed so much with grace and have held your head high. Those amazing students no doubt saw you as their one and only Ms. Orr.

    • jenorr says:

      I’m not sure I know how to do anything different! This has been quite a learning experience for me and it definitely helped me grow. At least in some small way, I am always grateful for things that help me grow.

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