It’s a funny thing, not growing up in Lawrence but feeling like a townie.
I’ve lived here for over 20 years. Longer than I lived in my hometown. More than half my life to date.
A lot has happened. I went from a shy college girl from a small town, faking confidence as I navigated a large university to a young woman embarking on a career as a teacher, a grad student, and a slowly maturing townie.
I was a wife at 34, a mother at 36 and again at 39, and went through several career transitions. The rest, as they say, is history.
I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve dated a lot of people, visited a lot of bars, seen a lot of shows, kicked a few kickballs, volunteered at a lot of events, and generally immersed myself in whatever Lawrence had to offer a person aging through its ranks.
I’ve loved every minute of it. I’m a townie at this point, I think. Yet I sometimes still feel like an imposter. As a woman of (almost) 41, with children, friends, a career, and a husband, you’d think that nervous college girl would be a vanishing memory.
No matter my accomplishments or my acceptance with various groups of people, there is a nagging feeling of, “Oh, man. When are they going to realize I’m a fraud?”
I realize that is insane. There is nothing fraudulent about my work, my marriage or my parenting. And yet, the nagging persists. It’s quiet usually, nothing more than a moment of weakness as I walk through a door or a passing thought as I fall asleep at night.
But I have to ask myself: “Do others feel this way? Do men? Is this a woman thing?”
Frankly, I think it is. Sadly, I have theorized that many women, no matter how accomplished, successful and confident, worry that they might be exposed as less than competent or worthy.
It’s a sickness I am working very hard to conquer. I might have to start looking at myself in the mirror every day and repeating, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and darn it, people like me.”
Those who know me will shake their heads at this. I don’t come off as nervous or shy — quite the opposite. I have to. I have a household and a job to manage, and a lot of people who rely on me at work, home and in the community.
Still, the phenomenon is real.
“Snap out of it,” I tell myself. And soon I will.
Until then, I will rail against a world that somehow makes women feel less than. I will teach my daughter to be sure of her talent and excellent in her work.
And I’ll never question her, not even for a minute, when she tells me she can operate a chain saw as well or better than she can sew on a button.
— Megan Stuke is a wife and a mother of Johnny (4) and Lily (1). By day she works to help children and families at Ballard Community Services, and by night she writes, cooks, cleans (a very little) and tries her best to be part of everything Lawrence has to offer.