The Imposter Inside

Have you ever felt like you were a fraud? Perhaps you questioned your own knowledge in your field or position. Maybe you were anxious that someone would discover that you were just “faking it until you make it.” These are all signs of a phenomenon known as IMPOSTER SYNDROME and you are not alone.

This year has been particularly tough for most people as everyone’s lives changed drastically with the pandemic. This has caused even more people to look critically at themselves. Recently, I myself became nearly paralyzed by imposter syndrome. I started a new, temporary, job in the technical theatre industry, which I haven’t worked in in almost 10 years, launched the internship program at Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife, and continued on my own professional development journey as a graduate student. Up until now, I had felt rather comfortable, confident even, in my decision to leave my career as a classroom teacher to purse my Big Audacious Goal of opening an ecotherapy center. Suddenly, however, I felt like I must have flown under the radar to get accepted into my graduate program and that I had made it this far by a streak of good luck. I was terrified that any day now my luck would run out and someone would realize that they had made a mistake and I would be busted as an imposter!

So why on earth would I turn around and out myself like this?

Last week I had a conversation with some of my peers, turns out this feeling is pretty universal and most people experience it at some point. Through talking about my feelings I was able to process what was going on deeper within and gained a better understanding as to why this common condition was flaring up so viscously for me.

For many years I had a deeply rooted belief that I was worthless, useless, and undeserving. It wasn’t until the last few years that I was able to start to breakdown these beliefs by reframing my thinking (I will do a post in the future explaining what that means). I spent the majority of my life discounting myself and my achievements because I didn’t feel or think I was worthy of success and recognition. This affected me to the point that if you thanked me for something as simple as setting up the desks for class, I would reject your appreciation and tell you why I did it for self-serving reasons. As a result of this constant self-depreciation, I have a skewed view of my qualifications and abilities but I am working on changing that. I realized that I have spent my whole life trying to prove my worth and not spent enough time reflecting on the value of everything I have done, accomplished.

Yes, I could continue to discount myself by measuring myself against everything I haven’t done, but there will always be more to do and no one is a master of all things. I am choosing to focus on what I have done rather then what I haven’t. As for the “streak of good luck”, Seneca said, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity”. This means that if I hadn’t put in the work upfront I wouldn’t be able to seize the opportunities I have when they present.

The only imposter is the voice inside telling me I am not worthy and its time that voice shuts up. I’m making a commitment to myself to spend time each week reflecting on something I have accomplished and recognizing myself for the hard work I did to do it. Sometimes these accomplishments may be small but I will write them each down and when the imposter inside begins to creep back up I will have a quick reference of the evidence proving to myself that I am not a fraud, I am a badass!

What is something you have accomplished that you should give yourself more credit for? Comment below and let’s practice some praise with each other!

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