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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Are you a gamer?

I’m a big fan of board games. I grew up in a family of gamers (video, board, card; you name it, we played it), and we spent a lot of time hanging out and playing generic and easy-to-access games like Jenga, Uno, Monopoly, Aggravation, Sorry…you get the picture.

Now that we’re all adults, we’ve become a hyper-competitive group of strategic gamers who are in it for the long haul. Recently, games like King of Tokyo, Stone Age and Galaxy Trucker have been on our replay lists. If you’re still stuck playing games from when you were 8 years old, you need to step up your game. (Yes, of course that pun was intended).

Seriously? Board games?

Yes, board games. They’re more engaging than television, and there are so many that stretch your imagination and engage your critical thinking muscles more than you’d expect.

One of my goals for this year is to play more games with the specific goal of interacting with my fiance and family more. While it might mean owning more “stuff” (I’ll have to develop a plan for curating my growing board/dice/card game collection), these games hold great value to me. They’re functional, and they bring joy to my life.They also bring a healthy dose of friendly competition (eh, let’s be honest – “out for blood” comes up a lot in my family). Success in games like Settlers of Catan often depends on both your negotiating skills and your ability to bluff (hey, I don’t want people to know that I’m going to steal “Longest Road” until I can take it without contest).

If you want to know what kinds of games I’m talking about, check it out:

We don’t mess around.

Games for two

Being away from my family leaves my fiance and I to our own devices. Do we turn on Netflix and waste away the night? Okay, yeah sometimes. It’s a habit we’re trying to break.

But we’ve been able to come across some really great games for just the two of us, and we’ve been having a blast. “Yinsh” is a new favorite of ours – and might be one for those interested in minimalist design to check out.

Yinsh

It’s like Othello on very confusing, triangular steroids. Only it’s not as difficult as it first seems, and is comparable to doing a two-person Sudoku puzzle where your opponent can scramble the numbers to muddle your plans for complete domination. Pattern recognition, strategy and a clear mind are required to get the most out of this game.

Yinsh Board

If you ever need board game suggestions or have any to share, let me know! I’m always open to learning new games and sharing what I find with others.

Note: if you’re unconvinced, consider what Seth Godin has to say about Candyland in his book Linchpin:

Author Steven Johnson hates the board game Candyland and all board games like it. I hate them even more than he does.

‘I realize that games of pure chance have a long history, but that doesn’t make them any less moronic,’ he writes. Here’s how Candyland is played: You pick a card and do what it says. Repeat.

This is early training in agenda following. Indoctrination in obedience. We teach kids that the best way to win is to mindlessly pick cards, follow instructions, and wait for it all to turn out okay.

Sheesh. What a disaster.

My decree: If you own a copy, burn it. Replace it with Cosmic Encounters or chess or a big box filled with wooden blocks. Please don’t look at school or even board games the same way again. If they’re teaching your kids or future employees to be map readers and agenda followers, make them stop.”  – Page 193

Make Art Every Day

Art isn’t only a painting. Art is anything that’s creative, passionate, and personal. And great art resonates with the viewer, not only with the creator. … An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally.

Seth Godin, Linchpin

If you’re not an artist, then it’s time to find out what has been holding you back.

Every day we have hundreds of opportunities to create art – each interaction we have opens up the possibility of changing someone. Many of us have fallen into the false security of a paint-by-numbers job and fail to take risks outside of our established duties. Is that really going to equate to long-term security? Or should we navigate away from strict obedience and aim for extraordinary?

No matter what your job, whether you work in an office, a hospital, or a coffee shop, bravery and boldness are open to you. Speaking up at meetings in the face of opposition from the rule-makers, going the extra mile for a customer or patient to have a perfect experience, or simply challenging your typical to-do list are acts of art – however unconventional.

If you aren’t creating art in your work, you run the risk of your efforts turning into commodities – easily teachable and quickly replaceable. Find out what sets you apart, and pursue it.

Challenge the standard, and quash the excuse that there’s no room to be different. There’s always room to be different.

 

Wisdom Wednesday: Seth Godin on Change

sethgodin

Are you holding out on change because you’re scared you’ll fail? One of Seth Godin’s books, The Icarus Deception, was one of the major drivers in my last job change – I was willing to take a big chance to improve my situation, and it turned out better than I could have anticipated. Waiting would have significantly changed the outcome, possibly for the worse.

The beauty of this is that it applies to both businesses and personal lives: practicing rapid innovation can move you forward in ways you never expected. But keep it in check 🙂 Too much change in such little time can make adapting more tedious than it should be.

I challenge you to implement one change today that takes you out of your comfort zone.

Picking Your Passion

“Our cultural instinct is to wait to get picked…No one is going to pick you. Pick yourself.”

Seth Godin, in his book The Icarus Deception, got it right. It seems as if I and many of my peers have been waiting for our day in the sun–to get discovered, to strike it rich, to have a profound impact on our world. However, the truth of the matter is that we’re all just young people struggling, still, to define ourselves and our passions. As I begin this blog, I want to focus on topics that are wholly interesting to me:

  • Finding your passion. This doesn’t mean to the exclusion of all of your other interests. In fact, I’m going to explore how we can merge our interests into a more singular path.
  • Personal development–so many young people are struggling to find their place in the greater world, that they forget to put themselves first. I see this every day.
  • Happiness. I feel silly typing that out, because it’s so darn cheesy. But, I’m not talking about fleeting happiness that comes with drinking a cup of coffee (which, incidentally, makes me very happy) or looking out at the sunshine, I mean deep-rooted, hard-core happiness. Fulfillment, gratitude, you get it. I’ll go there. My methods and ideas are not for the faint of heart!
  • I’ll certainly dedicate posts to my own personal development. I have so many interests, that it’s a constant struggle to manage my time and do what I want to do. I’ll identify goals for myself and help you along the way as well.
  • Books? I’ll read them. Blogs? I’ll read them. I’ll recommend good reading or viewing materials as I move forward along this path.
No really. What makes you happy? Dig deep, and be honest.

No really. What makes you happy? Dig deep, and be honest.

I’ve become so interested in the unhappiness epidemic lately (a woe-is-me attitude that runs rampant among my peers), and I hope that this blog can at least help one of you work towards a more positive future.