Imposter Syndrome – why it’s ok to not feel like a proper grown up

I’m 36 this year. I’m the age I imagine my aunties to be. When I was a kid, 36 was my aunties who were proper grown up, it meant wearing business suits and having expensive face cream. 36 was having your life sorted and to be honest, kind of old. 

Yet here I am.  Nearly 36 and feeling like a child in a grown up body. My clothes aren’t polished or sensible. I bought Clinique face cleaning stuff, used it twice and it’s now gathering dust in the bathroom cabinet. I feel like a fraud, like any minute someone will tap me on the shoulder and say ‘excuse me miss, can you please show us some proof you’re an adult.’

The majority of my clothes come from a supermarket or charity shops. I sway wildly from harijuku cute to biker chick to hippy to down right scruff. I don’t have ‘a style’ though I do have a penchant for fancy dress. My hair changes colour on a monthly basis and my jewellry tends to have swear words on it or look like it’s made from sticky back plastic and milk bottle tops. 

I wonder when adulthood will strike. When I’ll feel like a proper mother fucking adult?! 

Then I remember that I have three kids, two of them teenagers!  I’ve been with my partner for 19 years this year and been married for nearly 13. I have a ‘proper’ job working for a charity, I run a successful blog and I speak at events all over the world! 

I own my own home, pay my bills, own a car. I have a pension for fucks sake! So why is it that I feel like I’m playing dress up in my aunty’s heels? 

They call it imposter syndrome – “a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”

Perhaps it’s a throwback to childhood and fairly traumatic teen years.  I hate this cliche but I think I have abandonment issues with my father leaving me at a young age and not being a part of my life.  Perhaps it’s a lack of confidence, the idea that I’m simply not good enough. 

Whatever it is, I’m not sure how to get over it. And so I think I’ll just embrace it along with the myriad of wonky things about me and my character. 

Sure, I’m not wearing the Ted Baker suit and Manolo Blahnik shoes but that’s just not me! I don’t have all my shit together, I’m a bit all over the place, I don’t iron, I sometimes drink too much and tidy too little. 

But I’m good at what I am. I care about my friends and family with all my heart. I love my work and I’m passionate about helping others. I try really hard to be a good mum, a good wife, a good person. 

I may not be a proper grown up but I am so bad ass. 
Sam x 

Do you believe in fate? 

I thought I’d tell you a story that happened to me quite a few years ago when I had my son when I was just 19. He’d changed my whole life and I was completely in love with him, I was truly smitten and felt like I suddenly knew what life meant! Everything fell into place and I was loving motherhood. 

One day in 2002, my son would have been around 18 months old,  I heard a news story, a newborn baby had been found in a phonebox less than a mile from our home. My heart sunk, how difficult must life have been for a woman to leave her baby? It hit me hard, I think because I had had my life transformed for the better by having my son yet for this woman things must have been so different. 

It was on local news a couple of times and I couldn’t get it out of my head. They said the baby had been taken to our local maternity hospital where nurses had named him William. My thoughts of this baby were overwhelming, I just felt so sad for him and couldn’t imagine how his birth mother must have felt leaving him. 

I decided to do something that I’d never done before or after, I gathered some old baby clothes and a teddy bear and took the to the hospital. At the reception I told them that I’d been touched by the story and wanted to donate some clothes to the baby. 

They were suspicious of me, and requested I left my details, I think they wondered if he was mine.  I was nervous but knew I had to share a little love to this lad. On the tag of the bear I wrote a little note. It said ‘To baby William, here’s something to cuddle till you find your mummy, love Sam Timm and Charlie’ 

That act helped me to move forward, I read in the news that the baby was in foster care and would be adopted and I felt good for passing on our gifts. 

Years passed and I didn’t really think any more of that baby.  I had another child and decided that i wanted to move house to somewhere where the kids would have room to play, space and fresh air. I’d visited the Butterfly House in North Anston a few times and loved it, when I realised they had a nursery onsite I was sold! 

So we moved the 15 or so miles for a new start and I loved it. Our new home on a new road started well with a card through our door wishing us merry Christmas (we moved the week before Christmas!) it was from a family across the road and we soon met up. They had a son and our kids would play out on the cul de sac whilst we’d have a brew and chat. Everything was great. 

Then a couple of years later I got a knock on the door, it was our neighbour and she asked if she could come in. I welcomed her and made a cup of tea. She held up a teddy bear and said ‘I want to thank you for this’. I looked at it confused and said it wasn’t from me! Her son was now 5 and a bit old for teddies! 

She asked me to read the label. 

‘To baby William, here’s something to cuddle till you find your mummy, love Sam Timm and Charlie’ 

For a second I couldn’t understand what was going on! Her son wasn’t called William! Then it hit me. I burst into tears and so did she. 

She told me for the first time that her son was adopted. And that she thought she’d look through the clothes and teddies he’d brought with him from foster care, she saw the teddy for the hundredth time but read the label with a new recognition. Surely her neighbours and friends of two years couldn’t have sent this teddy?! 

And that’s how we learnt that her son, the boy who had spent two years playing with my own had started life as a baby found in a phonebox in Sheffield all those years ago.  And that teddy was there all his life till he found his mummy. 

Is it fate or just coincidence? I don’t know, but what I do know is that it taught me that being nice and kind, showing love and compassion is always the right thing to do.  You may do something as a throwaway gesture, thinking that it won’t affect anyone but our actions ripple out. 

Be kind yo… you never know when it will come back to you. 
Sam xx