I was chatting with a friend last night about my constant fear of failing. This fear is pervasive and it truly is holding me back – both personally and professionally.
This friend casually commented that I appeared to have ‘Impostor Syndrome’. My first thought was, ‘Great! Another thing to lay awake and worry about while spending my kid’s inheritance on therapy!’ You see, this friend of mine is brilliantly smart and if she says I have Impostor Syndrome then dude, I’ve got Impostor Syndrome.
After a few minutes of panicked freak out, I decided I’d better Dr Google this to see if there was any hope! What I found was fascinating….and sadly, a description of my inner self talk.
Impostor syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates that the opposite is true. It is experienced internally as chronic self-doubt, and feelings of intellectual fraudulence.
It is basically feeling that you are not really a successful, competent, and smart (person), that you are only imposing as such.
I have been a very successful person and in more than one career over great lengths of time in my life. I have received awards and accolades and glowing references and recommendations for my work. Truth be told, I am smart, very smart. I work hard and, although I deeply believe in Divine blessing in my life, I have also earned where I am. I worked my way into where I am. I have studied subjects that were far beyond my comfort zone and I have excelled at them. I have built a very successful and reputable business from nothing.
That’s the truth. But here’s what my inner dialogue on the subject sounds like: You are merely lucky. You aren’t nearly as smart as you appear – and people will figure that out. You can’t maintain this level of success for very long – you will crash and burn. You don’t deserve that award – it was a fluke you even got it. No one believes you to be that smart – you have nothing worthwhile to contribute and you are a fraud.
Yep, I call myself a fraud in a regular basis. An impostor. A liar. A fake. A phony.
These are dark and haunting ramblings, aren’t they?! And they are paralyzing, because I believe almost everything I tell myself!
These words are fueled by fear – plain and simple. And the truth of the matter (when I put my inner voice on mute for a moment) is that fear is a rotten, stinking liar. An absolute bastardly liar.
Me an imposter? What exactly am I trying to impostate? (Yep I know it’s not a word, but it’s fun to say!). What am I trying to pretend?! I didn’t order my awards from Joe’s Wholesale Trophy – earned the qualifications necessary to receive them. My pay cheques weren’t stolen from people – they were acquired through blood, sweat, tears and the long, lonely hours of a self-employed Mom trying to find the crazy balance between healthy parenting and a good career.
What I am telling myself I am pretending to be I actually am! I am successful. I am smart. I do own a profitable and reputable business, so who exactly am I fooling and how am I fooling them?!?
Yep, I am as confused as you are right now. You can’t be an impostor to something that you actually are.
A gold medal winning Olympic athlete doesn’t have to pretend to be a gold medal winning Olympic athlete – she is one. An award winning author isn’t a fraud for saying she’s award winning – because she is! And neither has to make excuses for herself when bringing it up.
I don’t have to hide in the shades of my self doubt, self loathing and self sabotage any longer. I am not pretending anything. I am exactly what I am. And if my courage to be my true self scares you, maybe you feel like an imposter, too.
Who better to be Dee Robb than Dee Robb?!? No one in the world – in the history of the world – is as good at being me than me. There’s no fraud there – in fact, that’s the most authentic truth in the Universe. There is no one more you than YOU!
Stop hiding all the brilliant, shiny parts of yourself. Stop downplaying the glittery parts of who you are. Stand up and shout it, ‘I am not an impostor, I am me!’