You Aren't the Impostor You Think You Are
Do I even know what I’m talking about? Why would anyone even listen to me? Do I have anything valuable to say on this topic? These are the thoughts swimming through my mind on a day to day basis. I wish we had a name for this part of ourselves so that I could look it in the eyes and call on it to see my accomplishments when things are going well. For many of us, this part still reigns supreme and controls our lives from behind the scenes and we are left wondering why? What gives this part so much power and what keeps me from overcoming it?
This is what imposter syndrome feels like to me. A few months ago, I got a promotion that was announced to the entire organization. Congratulations began raining in and in response I had to run into a room and cry. I felt undeserving; I felt like an imposter. Because I felt this way, I felt like I was one step closer to being found out and became frozen by a sense of impending doom.
I know that I am not an imposter. I work really hard and I have a deep respect and trust in my co-workers and manager that if I wasn’t deserving, I wouldn’t have gotten the promotion. But this is something I have struggled with my whole life and it’s not easy to talk about with others.
So I’m here to tell you or remind you, all of your thoughts, patterns, and behaviors (whatever they may be) don’t mean that you’re crazy and your reactions don’t make the difficult things you might say to yourself or that others say to you valid.
I am on a journey to being kinder to all parts of myself because that is part of the ultimate path of living a life where the ambitious part of myself, the goofy part, the dramatic part, and the sad parts all have a voice and sing to make a beautiful harmony. In response to the voice that tells me I’m an imposter, I’ve often tried to banish it and beat it back with cruel words but that only made it stronger.
It’s important to instead find a balance between pushing those thoughts aside without other parts cropping up that bring up even more shame and feelings of unworthiness for having felt bad at all.
Writing this now, I can still feel the undercurrent of doubts asking why I’m writing this post at all. I still feel the part of me that believes I don’t know what I’m talking about and that I’m unworthy but what it comes down to is that everyone is deserving, everyone is worthy, everyone has a voice worth being shared.
At some point in our lives, our parents, our friends, and our cultures raised us to believe that there is one version of life that is correct. We are supposed to be married, we are supposed to own a house, we are supposed to look a different way, we are supposed to have savings accounts, we are supposed to do certain things with our free time, and the most beautiful revelation is that they’re all wrong. We are all wrong about what our lives are supposed to look like.
What works for me might not work for you. And what works for the ambitious part of yourself might not work for the more timid part of yourself. Every aspect of who you are only makes you more human and more of your beautiful individual self.
I’m writing this post about imposter syndrome to spark a bigger conversation: how to lead the life you want to lead by valuing who you are as an individual. A great deal of the pervasive anxiety comes from guilt, regret, and rejection of who we are at our core and by embracing who we are at our core, we can reach our goals and truly enjoy the journey.
We feel like imposters because we believe there is one way to exist and that we don’t already exist in that way. I am many things - emotional, goofy, dramatic, blunt, happy, sad, angry, confused, aware. You might be trying to get rid of one of the many parts that make you who you are but I invite you to lean into those parts instead, and work with them to find the real value in your life and to find out what you’re capable of.