It’s Not Imposter Syndrome. I’ve Literally Taken On Someone’s Identity.

Dear President Grant,

I know that this is coming from a faculty email address. I know that my signature says “Professor Goode, M.A., M.F.A, Ph.D, Ed.D.” Believe me, I know what this looks like – but I am so tired of living in fear, and I need to settle this once and for all. I need you to strip all of your preconceived notions about me away and just read carefully. 

I am not, nor have I ever been, a professor. 

I’ll admit that I dressed sharper on that first day than the average student – my mother always said there’s no crime in looking your best. I was going to sit down at my rolling desk like a normal student, pull out my notebook, and maybe jot down a few notes. But, you see, everyone turned to look at me with such fear and respect. I remember seeing it in their eyes – the moment they thought I was there to teach the class. I can’t explain why I did it. Maybe it was the power. I walked up to the podium that day and set in motion a year’s worth of secrets and lies. 

The worst part is that I wasn’t even a student, really. I was auditing some courses on the first day of the semester. I came to check the university out because, honestly, I’m not sure this college stuff is for me. 

I have tried talking to my Department Chair about this. I have tried talking to the Dean about this. Every time, I get the same spiel – “Every young woman in academia feels that way.” “When I was young, I was terrified of being ‘found out,’ as a fraud, too.” “You’ll grow into your role – don’t worry, you’re doing great.” 

Am I? Am I doing great? If so, it’s only because I stay up every night googling “What is Derrida?”, “Grade Calculator”, and “Why are my blazer pockets sewn shut?”

At one point, I thought a good dose of humiliation might be the quickest way out. I volunteered to give a presentation at our annual liberal arts conference. It was one slide that said “I am not a Professor,” and I proceeded to have a meltdown of epic proportions wherein I told everyone the unfiltered truth about who I am. You may have read about it in the university newspaper under the headline “Professor Goode Gives Moving Performance Piece About the Dangers of Confirmation Bias.”  

And amid all of this crippling anxiety and dread, I am nightly plagued with the horrific question: what happened to Professor Goode? The Real Professor Goode. Why didn’t she show up that first day? Why was her office unlocked when I went to investigate and then stayed to grade papers? I fear that my silence has cost more than a little embarrassment, which is why I had to try coming forward one last time. 

So, you see, President Grant, I have tried so many times to tell the truth, and I have lived with this shame for far too long. I hope you’ll understand, now, why I had to go straight to the top and email you directly. I am sorry for any inconvenience this has caused, and also sorry that I will not be able to continue as a candidate in the search for your new provost.


Kendall Napier

P.S. If you receive a subpoena to appear in court, it is because the authorities have finally caught on to Professor Goode’s disappearance, and I am a prime suspect. I’m so sorry – I had hoped to be a better representative of your fine university, and I really did try my best.

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