and it's me!
Let me do what I do, ramble. So I keep hearing this one specific term lately. I feel like it’s me in a nutshell, that it totally answers so much of my inner struggles. It’s been everywhere on my Insta feed, in advertisements and on podcasts. You’ve likely heard it too and thought “yessss that’s me!”. Or you thought “What the f is that?”.
That said term is.... imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is, well, exactly as it sounds. Where you feel like you don’t belong, that you’re an imposter, you are faking and making it. Or in professional terms, imposter syndrome is the “collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. 'Imposters' suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.” (Thanks Harvard! https://hbr.org/2008/05/overcoming-imposter-syndrome)
So did you feel it? Did you go, “OMG THAT’S ME!”? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Seems it’s hella common, almost like something we all would have experienced at least once in our lifetime. It seems unlikely we all felt like we belong everywhere we have been. What makes the difference between a feeling and a syndrome is the adjective chronic. It’s that moment when you’ve worked hard on a career, hobby, sport, business, etc. and yet you still feel like you don’t deserve the recognition. When someone gives you a compliment and you fight back “yeah, well I still have a long way to go…”
For me, I have this all the time between writing, Instagram my 9-5 career and hobbies outside of writing (why yes I have other hobbies, go figure). I suffer from chronic self-doubt in all of those areas. Where this stems from could be a mixture of things, and it’s important to know your traumas but that's for another day. Thing is, I also have these moments of “well whatever, I am what I am”, the complete opposite? I teeter between the two, more often than not it's the imposter side that takes control. It's that bully who would never let you down when you were up in the air on the teeter totter, just holding their ground laughing as you struggle to get off that metal piece of playground equipment.
Even writing this feels like trying to wring out water from a stone, because, well, I feel like an imposter. I feel like I’ve had little success compared to other bloggers, other writers, other poets, other creatives. I think the emphasis of flaw here is COMPARING. We all know comparing ourselves doesn’t help anyone, so why do we do it? Why do we have to compete? I mean, come on, to be a blogger/writer/creative you NEED social media to have larger success now a days. How can we not compare and wonder who has more followers, more likes, more listeners, more purchases etc. etc. etc.
Some of us don’t do those things, some of us are rock stars and kick butt. Some don’t look back. Others, like my imposter syndrome peers, fester in our minds what we should and shouldn’t do. We struggle with perfectionism. We struggle with anxiety over “will my audience like this?” “what if I fail?” "is this even worth my time?". I’m not sure if this means we want it more or less than those who rock it, or maybe those who rock it don’t show all their colours? I can't speak for them, I can only attest to my own experience.
We know social media is a highlight reel (man do those terms have different meanings now) of all their goods. There has been an incredible movement about showcasing realism on social media! Doesn’t mean it’s easy to let go of feelings of imposter syndrome. It doesn't mean we know that social media is just a highlight reel.
Other flaws to emphasize and grow through is anxiety, perfectionism, and caring too much. That last one, it kills me the most. Is it really a bad thing to care too much? Is it wrong to care about my success? Does that make me conceited? Selfish? Perhaps it is the "too much" part, but where's the line? Where do you cut off caring and start "go with the flow"?
Okay, okay, I feel like I’ve lost you. Let’s bring it back and step away from the spiraling tornado of impossible questions.
Imposter syndrome. Right. It sucks. It feels like a big giant concrete wall you must climb but it keeps getting taller and taller as you climb.
But the thing with feelings, is they’re not always real. If you are familiar with cognitive behaviour therapy, it helps you assess what feelings are real and which are related to your stem of thoughts. And for me, imposter syndrome often is a result of my thoughts (unless, of course I actually do suck at all the things I do…if so would someone please save me the time and pain and just tell me?).
I suppose this is why affirmations and manifestation is really taking the spotlight in mental wellness. Speaking, repeating and engaging with positive thoughts makes them habit, making them dominate your mind, and become your default thoughts. My issue is, positive isn’t always the truth. I find it’s better to aim for balance. I strive for balanced thoughts. I’m imperfect (despite the desire to be otherwise). I make mistakes. I fall to imposter syndrome and anxiety on the regular. But there are days where I don't, where I manage to make movement on the teeter totter, where I reach the top of the ever growing concrete wall. THAT'S balance. Knowing both happen (and when you're ready for the next step, accepting that both happen and it's A-OKAY).
I’m tired of it. I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself. I’m sick of feeling like I can’t. So for the next week I’m going to power through my imposter syndrome. I will talk about it with you all. I will work on recognizing when those thoughts invade my strength. I commit here today to a new goal. I will post a balanced thought, manifestations and affirmations in my Insta stories, reflecting and addressing my imposter syndrome thoughts. May it shine some light in the dark places within me.
Photo by Carson Arias on Unsplash