A Sybarite with Imposter Syndrome

I will never take luxury for granted.

A friend told me recently that I was turning into a Sybarite. I had to look it up. It means, essentially, a person who is addicted to luxury and pleasures of the senses. Heck yeah, I’ll take that description.

But there is a reason a word-lover like myself was reduced, in this instance, to scrambling for the dictionary. For the first 50 years of my life, I was sunk way down in the bottom of the massive heap that is the lower class. Luxury and sensual pleasures are few and far between for those of us who are simply struggling to survive. You can’t be addicted to something you’ve never had.

But in the past 6 years, thanks mostly to having lucked my way into a union job, I’ve climbed up to the point where I actually see daylight. I’ve clawed my way into the ever-shrinking middle class, and I’m doing surprisingly well. I recently realized that just maybe, barring any unforeseen catastrophes, I’ll able to retire someday after all, instead of working until I drop dead as I always assumed that I would.

And it feels really, really weird.

It’s a relief, yes. It’s exciting, yes. But it kind of feels as though I’m living someone else’s life, and that at any moment, that person will walk up to me and say, “Right. I’ll have my life back now. Back to the slum with you.”

Imagine this: I actually have a hot tub that I can use any time I want. Every once in a blue moon I can treat myself to king crab legs, and when I do, I want to crawl up into the shell and let the meat surround me. Sometimes I experience the pure joy of being able to help someone else out. And I can travel without sleeping on a hostel bunk bed or in a tent. Five star hotels are still not in my financial comfort zone, but hey, I can have my own room with sheets provided by the management. That’s a luxury indeed.

Pre-pandemic, I actually experienced my very first massage. More please. (Maybe someday.) And I no longer have to sacrifice groceries in order to buy a set of tires for my car, or sleep in a sleeping bag while wearing a coat because I can’t afford to heat my home. And check this out: I actually have health insurance! Imagine.

So when luxury or pleasures of the senses come my way, I have to admit that I do revel in them. I enjoy all the delicious aspects of life that used to be so far out of reach. And because of my past history, I am incapable of taking these things for granted, so in a way, it’s the best of both worlds.

The Venitian in Las Vegas. I actually got to stay in this room one night. I slept like a baby.

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The Imposter Experience

My whole life, I’ve been waiting to be found out. Not discovered, like some pretty girl sitting at a soda fountain in Los Angeles, destined for stardom. No. Found out. Exposed for the imposter that I am.

I expect to be grabbed by the elbow. “You don’t belong here! How did you get here? Get back to the service entrance, wench!” “You don’t really fit in those clothes, that house, that job, that relationship, that car!” “You can’t have good things!” “That achievement? It’s a mistake.” “You are a fake, a phony.” “You are not worthy.” “Sure, they love you now, but only because they have no idea how flawed you really are.” “Just you wait. It’ll all turn to shit sooner or later.”

If any of that sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. It seems that 70 percent of us have the imposter experience at some point in our lives. Note that I’m not calling it Imposter Syndrome, as many people do. It’s not a mental illness. It’s not some flaw in your brain chemistry. You are not broken. We are not broken.

Yes, an attitude adjustment wouldn’t hurt. Habits may need to be changed. Chances are you learned this negativity at your parents’ knees. Talking about it helps.

The more we realize how common this thought process is, the easier it is to realize that its these thoughts that are the imposters, not you. Not us.

Don’t let these ideas fester. Don’t let them hold you back. Don’t allow them to stop you from trying. That way lies stress, anxiety, and depression.

Let yourself feel your success. Don’t just dwell on the failures as if they merit more of your time. Write down the compliments, not the insults. Allow yourself new experiences.

In case no one has ever told you: You deserve all the things. You deserve them as much as anyone else does. You belong here, too.

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