The Impostor Syndrome

I have 7 or 8 dresses. I have various musical instruments that I do not play, nor do I have time to learn them. I’m a fake. An impostor.

It is true, yes, that I have more dresses than there are days in the week, and that I have a strange affinity for instruments and typewriters that doesn’t exactly fall in line with the simple living ideas I present on this blog (although, to my defense, I consider all these things very beautiful and inspiring). However, it’s this strange fear of being found out as an impostor that hampers my progress with this blog.

The impostor syndrome is rampant among my friends, all incredibly smart and talented people I am proud to be in regular communication with. It’s also widespread in the professional world, and has been holding people back from recognizing their remarkable skills.

I’m an impostor all the time.

But really, am I? Are you?

We tend to belittle our achievements, and fail to recognize (even silently to ourselves) the work we’ve accomplished. This impostor syndrome causes unnecessary anxiety. And anxiety, as Seth Godin reminds us “is nothing but repeatedly re-experiencing failure in advance. What a waste.”

This mindset is a waste of our time. It makes us do things, say things, hold back things that we wouldn’t usually (how’s that for an impostor?) and I imagine it has a strong negative impact on what we decide to contribute. I know it impacts what I write here, and what I don’t (my “drafts” tab is about as long as my “published”).

Although humility is one of the traits I hold in high regard (especially with the path towards minimalism and since I’m a young, rather inexperienced person in the ways of the massive world we live in), I think it’s time we start giving ourselves more credit and bragging a bit.

I think it’s time to give ourselves more pep talks in the car, to project our ideas in the midst of fast-paced meetings, and to share what we find as valuable and interesting. Because you know what? It is valuable and interesting.

How are you fighting this beast?

I would love to know if, and how, you’re fighting this monster of a mentality. Not unlike a victim mentality, it’s affecting our well being and may be sabotaging our relationships and professional standing. I’m working on a few rules for myself to keep my confidence high.

Impostor Monster

You’re not an impostor.

First, realize what you are doing. You are exaggerating your averageness. And you’re not average. Then, create some rules for yourself:

Seek feedback and criticism – honest, non-filtered constructive criticism. Be more vocal, risk embarrassing yourself (note: you probably will embarrass yourself, and that can often be fun, creative or productive). View everything as an opportunity. Encourage others. Share your ideas. Even the baby ones that haven’t yet started to walk on their own.

I think we all convince ourselves that our friends, colleagues and mentors are superheroes, and I’m not suggesting that they’re not in some capacity. What we need to realize, though, is that they also have dirty kitchens, feel shy in meetings, and worry just like us.

Is this something you struggle with too? I’d love to hear your thoughts, as well as challenge you to embolden yourself and beat this creature once and for all.

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2 thoughts on “The Impostor Syndrome

  1. It’s definitely something that I have to deal with on a day to day basis. There are many times during the day where it’s easy to discount the things I do and praise those of others. But I’ve started realizing that it’s okay and it’s also lifting to give myself a pat on the back for a job well done.

    • I thought I had replied to this already, so I’m so sorry for the late response Amanda! It comforts me to hear that others struggle with this kind of stuff too, and it makes me so happy to hear that people are making conscious efforts to change it! Keep up the positive vibes 🙂

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