I struggle with really owning my gifts, my talents and my successes. For years I’ve deflected compliments, worked alone and shied away from the spotlight for fear of being found out.
Found out for what?
For being a fraud.
I don’t know why exactly that is. Maybe it's because I don’t have any formal education, or that I’ve gotten a lot of help from a lot of people, or for the fact that I really embody the term “fake it till you make it”. Turns out there’s an actual, psychological term for this; The Imposter Syndrome. Wikipedia defines it as this:
The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
I know from conversations that many people experience this. Maybe after reading that definition you do too. I’ve become keenly aware of the fact that I wrestle with being an Impostor, and in turn, I have taken steps to remove that thinking from my mind. Starting this blog was a direct combatant to the symptoms of the Imposter Syndrome, symptoms that include fear of failure, looking foolish, and being wrong. I’ve listed some steps to overcoming this in your life, if you happen to find yourself in a similar place:
- Own where you are
You’re there for a reason. There’s many places you could be, many skills and talents you could have, but you are where you are, and you are skilled and talent in exactly what you’re supposed to be skilled and talented at. Own that. Don’t try to be someone else, or worse, don’t fear trying to be like someone else.
- Shut out the haters
If we’re honest, the seeds of the Impostor Syndrome come externally. It comes from one comment somebody makes, in jest or not. It comes from the constant public comparison game we all play everyday through social media. It comes from people who actually don’t like the fact that you’re garnering success and attention, and their not. Shrug it off, its not worth it.
- It’s about the journey
Realize that its not about the complete perfect state that you’re trying so hard to attain, but the journey that we’re all on to get better and impact the world with what we have. Wear your imperfections on your sleeve, don’t try to fool anyone into thinking you’ve got it all down. It’s exhausting.
- Focus on the value
Bring value to the table, bring value to peoples lives. Be humble, and share what you know with anyone willing to hear it. Show your work, and then show your process. That will ultimately show that you have nothing to prove, and nothing to lose. That always wins.