There was this game I made up as a child. I organized my best stationery, files, and occasionally an inoperative telephone on a desk, and played office. One day I was a ticket booth attendant, the next I was a corporate CEO. I took calls, made notes, passed on reports for approval. I remember maintaining a diary of my daily activities, marked confidential and stowed away in a secure location.
It's not a game anymore. A few weeks ago, I formally joined the workforce. Although I'm not working out of the cubicle I always imagined (yet), this is as real as it gets. I know because I check Outlook before WhatsApp in the morning, and I'm consciously aware of what day it is, if not date. Unsurprisingly, this isn't as much fun.
I was one of those achievers in school. Finishing top of the class, actively involved in student activities, teachers' favorite. So, when failure struck the first time with entrance exams, it struck hard. The intense competition that pumped through the factory we call our educational institutions chipped away at any remaining shred of confidence. At the end, all that was left was a frightened little girl; too afraid to try, and too fragile to fail. Consequently, when she realized she got everything she ever dreamed about, a moment of boundless exhilaration turned into a dread-filled sense of impending doom.
I concluded my training a few days ago, and joined my permanent team. A bunch of highly talented individuals, all with more years under their belt than I do weeks. I have been sitting in on meetings, being a quiet sponge, if you will, and I'm as in awe as I am terrified. The confidence, the knowledge, the skill. It's all I can do to not compare my chapter one to their twentieth. If there is anything I've learnt in my short stint, it's that we are inherently lackadaisical, or at least, I am. We'd rather spend days in nerve-wrecking anxiety than put in an hour of effort to be one step closer to where we want to be. It takes constant vigil to impose the kind of self-discipline that enables one to grow into one of those people we so ardently admire.
They say impostor syndrome affects a majority of the population. I can see why. I'm living from one Friday to the next, constantly afraid of being found out, aching to crawl back into the safety of Mum's blanket.
But instead, I sit at the very desk I used for my childhood shenanigans, and work away. After all, it's time to get real.