Imposter Syndrome (Part One)


Note:  Part one of a two part post.

Have you ever felt like you had a purpose, or the drive to do something, but you felt like you really weren’t qualified?  You feel you’re skilled, successful or can be successful in that space, but who would come to you for that?  Almost like, you’re a fraud because you’re not good enough (in your own mind) don’t have some sort of degree, certificate or major accolade to prove your worth?

One:  that is your ego talking, your inner mean girl/guy, what Bethenny Frankel refers to as “noise” (her book “A Place Of Yes was amazing – you can order your copy here ) or your own negative self talk which I wrote about here.

It’s time to have a conversation with it..

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Two:  it has a name.  Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome can be defined as “a psychological pattern, in which an individual doubts their abilities or accomplishments, and has a persistent internalized fear (ah, fear, so we meet again old friend) of being exposed as a fraud.  They feel that they do not deserve all that they have achieved and attribute it to luck or as a result of deceiving others into think that they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.”

Ironically enough, while Imposter Syndrome applies to both men and women, early research focused on women and more times than not, high achieving women suffer from imposter syndrome.

I never knew that this awful feeling I had, actually had a name.  As I mentioned in my previous blog post, before I started writing, I played this game of mental ping pong with regard to if I should actually start this site or not.  I felt a strong need to share this equivocal journey that is my thirties, because other people, whether older or younger, are going through these same exact situations; they’re feeling these feelings.  I felt a wink from the universe pointing me in the direction, to connect and remind people that they’re not alone, because they’re not.  I’m not, you’re not, none of us are.  I am you.

I asked myself, “how am I an imposter or a fraud by talking about what I’ve learned?  My own personal experiences?”  What was worse was that, after I finally started walking the a path that I felt I needed to take, word made its way back to me that friends were criticizing certain blog topics saying “What makes her think she should write about that?”  What does she know about it?”  And in that moment, I asked myself, “Maybe I am an imposter?” 

What I learned from that situation, because I am a forever student, I realized that there will always be harsh critics.  Even in the form of “friends.”

Now I challenge those who criticize.  What does Rachael Ray know about cooking?  She doesn’t have a Culinary Degree (or a college degree) nor does she have any formal culinary training.  In fact, she credits her job at Macy’s for giving her any education in gourmet foods and the rest was from watching family.

What does Anna Wintour know about fashion or journalism?  The reigning Editor-in-Chief of the world’s most renowned fashion bible actually dropped out of school notably declaring, “you either know fashion or you don’t.”  What did Steve Jobs or what does Michael Dell know about Technology?  None of these highest respected icons of their crafts hold formal degrees or trainings.

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell points out that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a any particular field.  I am not sure if I believe in experts, but I do believe in people who find their true self and purpose, who relentlessly tire themselves practicing their passions.  Those who wake up before the birds and go to sleep with the moon.  Those who spend 10,000+ of their free time mastering their craft.  Those are people who can never be called a fraud.

So, how are you spending your 10,000 hours?

The Art of Self Sabotage

You procrastinated on a task again..

You want to lose twenty pounds, you’ve been eating better, but you had ice cream and now you’re upset, so you just finish the gallon..

You know you need to save money, but you want that new BMW, because everyone else has one..

You really like that guy/woman, but you think “why would he/she like me…?”

You want to apply for that promotion but you know someone more qualified (according to you) applied for it, too, so why bother?

Confession time:  I self sabotage.  I’ve shot myself, in my big foot, more times than I can think of (5’3″, size 9, it’s a phenomenon).

I recall doing it when it came to starting this blog.  I’ve always loved writing.  I always enjoyed sharing my thoughts, but I remember putting myself down in my own head, “Who is going to read it and why would anyone even care what you have to say…”  Until I grabbed my metaphorical sack and started the blog.  And while I may only have X amount of subscribers, I see the traffic, I see the Google searches, people really do read it.

During a beach trip with my Aunt (we all need a good Aunt who won’t hold back) this past Saturday and talking through a few things, I realized what a hypocritical mirror I am.  I knew I sabotaged myself, I just didn’t realize I was doing it in certain situations.  Or how bad.

An accurate depiction of me realizing what the f*** I am doing.

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I am the person who chats her friends off of the ledge explaining how they’re sabotaging themselves, for no good reason, when in reality, I am doing the same exact thing.

So, what’s the deal?  Why do we do this?  And do I need an exorcism?  Is that covered by my insurance?  Aenta, are you reading this?

An accurate depiction of me realizing WHY I PERSONALLY self sabotage:

For the past 48 hours I have dedicated myself to finding out why humans are so conditioned to do this.  This includes using myself as lab rat.  Frankly, I am sick of my own shit.  I currently have an accountability hangover.

The first reason has to be the most obvious:  Fear.  We fear potential rejection, we fear failure so we don’t even start, we fear endings, we shockingly fear that things can be way better than they are, we fear the unknown, we fear getting hurt or being the person who causes any hurt.  So, in essence, we use fear as a security blanket, to remain out of anxiety of the unfamiliar.  Yet, we’re still anxious.  We remain the same because we at least know what we’re going to get.  It’s totally comfortable to repeat these patterns, right?  (Sarcasm.)

Cognitive Dissonance.  And it affects every single one of us.

We think we don’t deserve the thing. Whatever the thing is, forget it, we don’t deserve it.  The size 6, the new job, the man or woman who is way out of our league, who is probably thinking the same about you, go figure, but neither is being vulnerable enough to say how they really feel because of FEAR.

We lack worth or have low self esteem.   Remember the time that you went for the job and didn’t get it?  Or that relationship with that guy or girl that you really liked didn’t work out?  It can easily put us into game of mental ping pong:  “See, I  knew I wasn’t worth it” vs. “nothing ever works out for me”, to be carried on for years to come, and keeping you what you consider to be safe (in pain, unhappy in the land of self fulfilling prophecies… but “safe”, so totally okay).

Or even when we stay in a relationship, at a job, in a home, or even friends with someone, way past the expiration date.  We know we don’t belong there anymore, but whether it is because of investment, history, the hope something will change or again comfort, we are still sabotaging ourselves.  We aren’t opening the door to allow greater things come to us.

How do we fix this?  Well, I am not an expert so don’t look at me.  However, the first step to stop getting in your own way is awareness followed by accountability.  The next is surround yourself with people who won’t tell you what you want to hear or make excuses for you.  For instance, my Aunt told me to call her every single time I felt a wave coming on.  Another proactive step is to make a list of why you DO deserve what you desire.  Yes, sit down, make a list.  And be nice to yourself.

Think or write down the reasons why something WILL workout instead of why it won’t.  Have an open conversation instead of putting up the wall.  Have a protein shake instead of ice cream (I am looking right at you, Angela!).  Take a walk instead of scrolling through Instagram.  When you catch a negative thought, immediately think of something else.

And yes, I’ve already done these myself in the past two days.  Fine, two days, but you have to start somewhere, right?  Small steps = big results.  Always.  

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I may not know all of you, but I am rooting for each and everyone of you.  Promise.

Happiness Is Everywhere – You Just Need To Look Around

I am not going to be one of those people who tells you “happiness is a choice” and “you have to choose to be happy.”  I’ve openly discussed my personal struggles, with high functioning anxiety, and bouts with depression.  Some days you can’t just choose to be happy no matter how hard you try.  You need to ride the wave.  However… because there is always a “however” with me, what you can do, is you can choose to show up.

Just honestly and openly showing up to life can change and magnetize what shows up for you.  Read that again.  And again, one more time.

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Yesterday, I wasn’t the happiest when I woke up since I have been noticing that I am out of alignment.

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Even though everything is falling into place in my life post-divorce, after my world crashed down on me, to get my attention, and make the shift into a new life happen (thanks, Universe, that was quite the show!), there are still a few items and triggers that I am actively working on.

During my Sunday morning long run, I was hyper aware of so many things.  I don’t think that my hyper awareness was an accident, I think it was absolutely manifested and came at the time I needed it most.  Through my awareness, I noticed so much happiness flow to me knocking me back into alignment.

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The first thing I noticed on my run was the obvious sun that had just risen about two hours earlier.  It was shaping up to be a 10/10 day.  It was 61 degrees (I haven’t had my central air on in days, hallelujah!) and the perfect running temperature.

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I noticed a man teaching a little boy how to ride a bike in the back of an empty lot.  It was the perfect moment, as the little boy took off on his own and who I think was his father, jumped up and down like his favorite baseball team just won the World Series.

I saw one of the regulars who runs 24 miles a day, going harder than ever.  He is a complete inspiration.  Shortly after, a cyclist who was working with a prosthetic leg passed me; this was even more of an inspiration.

Deer.  Deer, everywhere!  An older man who was sitting on a bench, with his beach cruiser parked next to him, grinning ear to ear, snapping pictures of the deer with his iPhone.  He legit made my heart melt.  His suspenders were snazzy, too.  One more regular who I haven’t seen in awhile called out to get my attention, a quick high five was exchanged as to not fall out of either of our paces.

Next was a man running, with a little girl along side of him, on her bike.   She had the cutest unicorn helmet.  After that was a large group of men, that I see every single weekend morning, playing stick ball in an open field.

I saw my suspender friend again, riding his cruiser, stopping to snap a photo of the lake that we were both now passing.

Two German Shepherds running with their owner.  Because dogs.

It was all perfect timing for me, to notice what I was noticing, when this song came on:

Okay, okay, I know that I am a huge Coldplay fan, but this song always brings me right back to instantaneous happiness, the words, my God every single word, the energy, everything.  I will never get over this song.

When I finally finished my ten miles and I got back to my car to stretch, the last thing I noticed, which I have been noticing a lot in my yard, were white butterflies which was the most gentle reminder that the Universe has my back.  It was truly the best way to start the day.  I noticed that every human that was out early yesterday morning, whether running, cycling, walking, teaching their kids to ride their bikes, etc., was out for the same reason:  To show up to life.

And everyone else’s happiness that I saw, brought more happiness to me, to compliment the happiness I found in showing up.  So while no, sometimes we can’t choose to be happy, we can choose to show up, and, in turn, so does what we desire most.

All my love,