Imposter Syndrome? You Aren’t Alone

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“Between the ages of twenty and forty we are engaged in the process of discovering who we are, which involves learning the difference between accidental limitations which it is our duty to outgrow and the necessary limitations of our nature beyond which we cannot trespass the impunity,” as said by the author, W.H Auden.

A little over a week ago I was featured in an article in the Wall Street Journal: In This Economy, Quitters Are Winning. I thought of it as luck because the journalist who wrote the story happened to read an article I wrote about quitting my job and moving across the country. I woke up to an email one morning from him asking if I would share my experience, which is something I would have never imagined in a million years. It was a week of a lot of emotion, but the energy that resonated throughout my body wasn’t negative in any aspect. In fact, it was positive, but it was also overwhelming to the point of anxiety.

Did I deserve this? I asked myself. I was overwhelmed with the congratulations, not because I didn’t accept or want them, but I didn’t feel like I deserved the praise. The feelings of anxiety would lead me to not being able to enjoy the accomplishment. I locked away my happiness, internalized it, and hid it from the world unable to see. The article in the Wall Street Journal was published on the Fourth of July and throughout the day I would have moments and feelings of doubt, in which I downplayed my success. There was one moment in particular where my friends celebrated on the beach, meanwhile, I sat isolated, my body was there by my mind was elsewhere. All I could do is look at the ocean and listen to the waves. Thinking to myself, how did I get here?

I thought I was an imposter.

“Success and failure are the same impostors,” as expressed by Rudyard Kipling.

I often have moments of self-doubt, which I attribute to imposter syndrome. These moments happen often and have held back my potential for years. I want to write about it, and tell you, that if you ever have had this feeling that you aren’t alone.

Imposter syndrome was first coined in 1978 by two psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, which they describe it as “a feeling of phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” It is most commonly prevalent in overachievers or those who are highly creative and is the fear of being exposed as a fake when evidence indicates otherwise.

When you have imposter syndrome, the more you accomplish, the more you feel like a fraud – it’s as if you can’t internalize your experiences of success.

If you’ve ever felt like an imposter, you’re not alone, it is estimated that 70 percent of people will experience it in their lifetime.

Imposter syndrome seems to be a common denominator amongst millennials. Whether it be in our professional careers, relationships, or the triumph of being an adult. And if you’re like me, you think your achievements are a result of serendipitous luck. This thinking is paralyzing as the feeling of not being enough is toxic. It takes true power and self-knowing to help overcome imposter syndrome.

“I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.” – Will Smith.

My imposter syndrome didn’t start last week. It’s something I’ve combatted since high school, but it has taken me until the age of 27 to give it a name.

I am fighting these levels of imposter syndrome, conquering one to face a larger foe.

Imposter syndrome would follow me from high school to adulthood. In graduate school, I felt like I didn’t belong and that someone deserved my spot, “it must’ve been a mistake that they accepted me” I would say to myself. Statistically, the odds were stacked against me and the more I gained an awareness of that, the more I thought I was a fraud. I spent each year proving to myself that I belonged, even though it was already proven that I belonged by the fact that I was there.

I’ve had to lose myself to learn who I am again.

Growth is a strange thing to comprehend when you look back at your life trajectory. Every day, we are changing and becoming a better version of ourselves. Each of our timeliness is different but there’s a certain point we reach and realize our own worth.

It’s easier to be a fraud than to step into your true power, but it pays off. It may take a certain sign or event to trigger your self-worth, but when the moment of clarity comes it resonates through every microcosm of your body. The energy expands to your aura to be felt by those and the world around you. When you step into your power there’s a feeling of invincibility. An energy that expands beyond yourself, and thus, a leveling up occurs.

You are worth more than you can believe.

Face it, you’re good at what you do. You’re the best version of yourself and there is no one out there who is a better you. Whatever doubts in your ability that you may hold onto are nonexistent. They aren’t real and only live in your imagination. It is when you come to the realization is the moment when you step into your power. When you take ownership of your talents, skills, and all the special and creative things that make you, you.

Get rid of imposter syndrome. You’re a master at your craft, you’re meant to be in the position that you’re in, and you’re even destined for greater. The voice in your head that tells you otherwise is only fear. Fear is an imposter, not you.

Look at what you’ve accomplished in your life and be grateful. Don’t be crippled by the fear but lean into while letting your guard down so the world can see the real you. The fact that you’re battling with imposter syndrome means that you’re accomplishing things. So play your jam, do your power pose, because you’ve got this. TC mark

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