I’m a terrible blogger. My goal is to publish a blog post a week but I’m failing miserably. I have lots of sweet excuses though, trust me.
BUT, besides all my bullshit excuses, the real reason that I am terrible is because I constantly feel like an imposter who has no business writing about anything at all. Who am I to give advice, I’m not an expert at anything besides sarcasm, sass and self-deprecation. I’m also pretty good at trash talking, abbreviating and being a quitter—some might even say expert level. Like I’ve eluded to in previous posts, I’m often paralyzed be perfectionism. (re: PerfectioNation).
So, I decided to investigate why it is that I constantly feel like an imposter in almost all areas of my life. At work I feel like everyone is going to realize that I actually have no fucking clue what I’m doing. At the gym I feel like everyone is going to realize that I’m just pretending to be an athlete. Even in social situations I feel like people are going to realize that I’m not actually witty, I’m really just a huge nerd.
But I also know that I’m not alone in this; many people also struggle with things like attributing their success to luck, struggling to accept compliments, lacking confidence and fearing failure.
So, what is ‘imposter syndrome’?
Basically, it’s defined as a 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. Research shows that both men and women experience these feelings in equal numbers.
According to expert Valerie Young, there are five sub-groups of imposters:
- The Perfectionist
- The Superwoman/man
- The Natural Genius
- The Rugged Individualist
- The Expert
People who struggle with confidence often fall into one of these archetypes. Take a read of her definitions here to identify where you might fall.
If you are anything like me and you feel like you are just faking your way through life, here are some hot tips to help overcome those feelings:
Take responsibility for your success.
“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity,” – unknown.
I first heard this said by my friend Kelly Olynyk who plays for the Miami Heat. He didn’t attribute making the NBA to his genetics or his up-bringing…he realized that yes, being 7’2″ is lucky, but that would have meant nothing if he wasn’t willing and prepared to work his ass off to get where he is.
Accept that you have earned your accomplishments, you create your own luck.
C.S. Lewis said “success is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
Provide value to others while expecting nothing in return and success will come. If you shift the focus away from yourself, and just focus on how you can add value to others, those fraudulent feelings will fall away. Give without expectation.
Bitch, be humble
“Humility and worthiness have nothing at all to do with defending our territory. We don’t have to feel like a fraud to also be gracious, open or humble,” – Seth Godin.
It is possible to feel worthy without feeling entitled, and overcoming impostor syndrome is all about finding a healthy balance between the two. Accept that you are crushing it and be humble about it.
Kill comparison, keep metrics
“Envy is ignorance”- Emmerson.
We all know that comparing ourselves to others has little to no benefit, but it’s hard to stay in our own lane. When you feel like an impostor, one of the hardest things to grasp is how much of a role you have in your own successes.
Keep a file of wins and positive reinforcement both at work and in your personal life. Your college acceptance letter, positive things people have said about you, nice emails or messages you have received from coaches, clients or mentors. You have a lot to be proud of…I mean, you are still alive, congratulations!!!!
Understand that everyone is faking it
Lets be fucking real here, no one actually has a clue what they are doing. Life is just a series of people acting as if they know the answers and saying it with so much conviction that people actually believe them.
Fake it till you make it is legit, everyone is doing it.
Embrace da syndrome
It’s really hard to get rid of impostor syndrome completely, so rather than trying to rid yourself of these feelings, focus on just not letting it hinder your success.
“We know what the feeling is called. We know others suffer from it. We know a little bit about why we feel this way. And we kind of know how to handle it. Invite it in and remind ourselves why it’s here and what it means,” Carl Richards, NY Times writer.
Embrace it and don’t let it fuck wit you.
Want more? Check out this pretty great podcast from Richards about IS and how to overcome/embrace it.