Imposter Syndrome [ im-pos-ter sin-drohm ]
the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
I’ve spent the better part of my life believing I have no real talents or skills. There’s nothing about me that is inherently special or unique. I am totally and completely replaceable in every facet of my business and personal life. Except for motherhood. Somehow, and thankfully, that’s the one area I’m consistently confident.
I have no idea why I have Imposter Syndrome. I wish I could pinpoint the exact moment I first felt like a conman in my own life. Or I wish I could point the finger at someone, be able to place blame somewhere other than my own miswired brain. Even as I write this I question why anyone would want to hear what I have to say or care about my opinions.
And I only see this within myself. I think everyone around me is amazing in some way or another. Everyone else has some gift or ability that I just wasn’t dealt. When I was in college, I was a mediocre student at best because everyone else just seemed to get the lessons. I couldn’t see in the moment that I was getting it, too. Now, almost 20 years after graduation I’m almost able to see and trust that I am intelligent and knowledgeable in my field.
When I was bartending and waitressing, I was anxious at every shift that someone would order a drink I didn’t know how to make, or I wouldn’t bring the correct order to the correct table, or I’d give the patrons the wrong specials. In about 10 years of working in hospitality, I can probably count on one hand the number of times that actually happened but that did nothing to mitigate the anxiety that I’d in some way fail the next customer that ordered from me.
When I first started working in marketing and advertising sales, I figured I’d be fired any day. I was sure my sales numbers were too low or I’d quote my clients the wrong figure for their campaign. And when I transitioned to social media marketing and copywriting I knew eventually I’d be responsible for a massive error and cause my clients to lose business. I’ve been in that field for several years now and I’m vital enough to be asked to return to work 5 days after the birth of my son. Even with that, I was still afraid to ask for a raise, wanting so badly to believe I was worth more than I was being paid and terrified that I’d be let go rather than compensated for my abilities.
This has held me back in so many ways. I tend not to follow through with big things because I’m just going to fail anyway. It’s quite a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’ve been trying, especially recently, to power through, to push myself past the anxiety and fear and just do the thing. Usually I succeed, and that’s been incredibly helpful. I’ve learned the more I talk about Imposter Syndrome, the less hold it has on me. I’m not sure if it’s hearing myself say it out loud, or the reactions from the people I’m speaking to. Either way, it’s slowly losing its grip and maybe one day I can say, with confidence, that I’m good at what I’m doing. And believe it.