Let’s Play Pretend: Imposter Syndrome
“I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” —Maya Angelou
“The exaggerated esteem in which my life work is held makes me feel very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.” Albert Einstein
If Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein felt like imposters or a fraud, what hope do we have in embracing our worth and feeling like we are living our authentic self?
Depends on how you view it. You can say that you are in good company, or you can use it as fuel to perpetuate your feelings of self doubt, your imposter status or overall feeling like you just are living a life as a hypocrite or a fraud. The truth is an estimated 70 percent of people will experience impostor syndrome at least once in their lives.
What exactly is Imposter Syndrome? Dictionary.com defines it as the following:
im·pos·tor syn·drome (noun)
“the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.”people suffering from impostor syndrome may be at increased risk of anxiety”
Persistent inability to believe. What do you believe in? Like truly believe in at your core. Success? Happily Ever After? The Fairytale? Probably not. Most of those items went away with rainbows and unicorns. (Because we all know that Santa exists!)
When my daughter was little, I tried to make every experience magical for her as a single mom. I planned picture perfect matching themed birthday parties, attended all her events and never missed an important moment in her life. I coordinated my schedule in some crazy ways to make sure that I was always present for her – even if it was at a cost to me.
One way I did this was through glitter dust and special coins from the tooth fairy. Setting an alarm to get up after she fell asleep in case I dozed off watching tv. Always going the extra mile. Always striving for mother of the year.
Which I was anything but. My days were spent worrying and wondering how being a single mom would impact her in the long run. Would I do enough to help mold her? Or was I damaging her in the process? Sleepless nights, increased worry, no social life and living in a state of fear was not living my perfect life. It was living in fear that someone, somewhere would realize that the outside facade was just that. A prettied up hot mess.
I know you are thinking, welcome to being a mom. I couldn’t agree more! When I was a teenager, I remember watching the show thirtysomething and thinking that once I hit the old age of thirty – I would have life figured out. Well I am almost a few decades past thirty and have yet to feel like a grown up.
My day job is spent partnering with high achieving individuals on such a core level to help them live an authentic life in which they THRIVE.
My evenings were spent wondering if they would ever figure out that I didn’t even have my life figured out and I could not hold myself accountable for some of what I asked of them.
Fraud? Heck yes. Hypocrite? Card carrying president of that club. Fearful? Absolutely every day that someone would see through the facade and learn that my bark was wicked loud since the bite wasn’t always there.
Fast forward many years and that small eight year old little girl is twenty one years old. Living on her own and figuring out her life. Do I still feel like a fraud? Of course I do, but I also realize that my people know who I am at the core, accept me for the flawed being I am, as well as realize that no matter how much I may rock my career (please note some humor there…) that I am also very human too.
Being human allows us to be flawed. To be amazing in one area and struggle in another. To give advice that we cannot always take. To learn from those we work with as much as we teach those to thrive.
I am still waiting on my Mother of the Year award and parenting an adult child comes with more challenges than I could have ever imagined. Whether I succeed or fail in that challenge does not impact my worth, my value or my ability to be who my clients need in their time of struggle.
Imposter Syndrome is a term that has become trendy, most can relate to the textbook definition of and many continue to struggle to admit it is how they live their life daily. Helping Professionals, High Achieving Individuals, Strong Individuals and the rest of the population is allowed to be human too. The trick is being able to admit – with confidence – that it is ok to be scared most days.
And still be a rock star at what you do.
“Ah, the impostor syndrome!? The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania, and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh god, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud. Seriously, I’ve just realized that almost everyone is a fraud, so I try not to feel too bad about it.” —Tina Fey
We are going to spend the month of June looking at Imposter Syndrome, how it impacts burnout, compassion fatigue and the ability to live an authentic life. Check back weekly to see the new installment!
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As I have stated previously, being known for who you uniquely are at the core is a freeing experience. One that will take bravery and vulnerability, but one that can be achieved.
Always remember to take care of you. You are worth it!