I recently became aware of a concept i’d never heard before, and it’s quite interesting. I’d just left a job fair with some classmates, and we were having lunch, discussing the day. All of us were intimidated by the options open to us, felt unprepared, and were really just trying to make it past finals, to graduation. None of us had our heads one hundred percent “in the game,” and needed those beers a little more than we were letting on.
I can’t remember who started the conversation, but we ended up in a discussion about frauds. I knew I felt phony to the max. My life was all over the place, and yet I was being groomed for a helping profession. I felt I was the one that really needed the help, most days. During the conversation a friend of mine said “Yeah, it’s pretty normal to feel this way, it’s called imposter syndrome.” I was intrigued, and urged her to go on. I could sit here and give you my take on this phenomena, but I think it best to give the official definition, so here it is. Imposter syndrome: A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”
A fraud. How could I, a soon to be college graduate, Magna Cum Laude, wife, mother of three, mother of twins, sister, aunt, friend, daughter, be a fraud? But I was a fraud. I was the first to help a friend stay positive, to help my kids work on breathing techniques, to post an inspirational quote on Instagram, as if that’s all it takes. On the inside I was filled with doubt, criticism, and fear. I had little belief, and wasn’t giving myself grace. I know that now, and as much as I wish I could rewind the clock back, I feel that life always has a way of giving us lessons. Sometimes over and over again until we get it. I could continue on the “safe path,” and never think twice about it. Or I could live fearless and with great courage. I’m choosing the latter.
Let me try to explain this a little better. Years ago, my dream was to become a columist for a newspaper or magazine, then it was to become an editor, content writer, copywriter, and lastly author. Noticing a trend? Well, that imposter syndrome ran so deep within me, that I didn’t do any of those things. I was telling others to follow their hearts, take risks, life their best lives, all the while, not being authenic in my own life. I’ve had teachers ranging from fifth grade to college, complimenting my writing, and encouraging me to take it further. Yet, I didn’t see it for myself. I’ve lived in fear for so long, covering it up with excuses. “This is a safer route, this earns more money, this will help more people, this will provide benefits, this will make my family proud etc. All the while, not having enough faith in myself to do what makes my heart happy.
So while I can blame this “syndrome” for part of the self- doubt, it’s just not enough. It’s up to me and you to change that (yes, you’re reading this for a reason!) This will be the year I write my book. It won’t happen overnight, but there will be chapters finished. There will be action taken. I refuse to let anything or anyone determine my worth, my future, or my impact on this world. Who says I can only do one thing? Who says I can’t exceed at many different things? And who says I have to listen to the people who are saying it?
I urge you to have courage in your own life, expecially in those areas you are holding back in. I encourage you to try new things, fail and fail again, until one day you succeed. So, here comes the part again where you give yourself grace. What I mean by that is allow yourself to mess up, make mistakes, and still love yourself enough to keep going. Don’t second guess your purpose. Let’s quit feeling like imposters in our own lives, and start living unapologetically in our truths.
-Gypsy Hearted Mama