Thursday, 21 March 2019

Imposter Syndrome & Me

You know that feeling, when you achieve something great...something you've worked hard for, or dreamed about for a long time...and you feel happy but somehow, at the same time, you also feel as though you don't fully deserve it? As though there's maybe been some kind of mistake and you feel as though you're waiting for everyone else to realise it too...?

Or maybe you'd understand another feeling more...the one where someone is complimenting you on a talent they feel that you have. They're talking about something they think you're good at, and you feel yourself blush and stumble over your words...unsure of what to say. Not because you're being humble or because you're awkward...but because you genuinely cannot fathom why they're saying these things. Because you just don't believe them to be true.

If you don't understand the feelings I'm referring to, then this post probably won't make such sense to you but if you do understand them...then did you know that this thing has a name?

Imposter syndrome.

The Google dictionary defines it as "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."

Wikipedia goes a step further by stating that sufferers of imposter syndrome have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud. 

This is something I can fully relate to, and that I experience in most aspects of my life.

When people compliment me on how happy my children seem and tell me that I'm a good mother...I thank them, I smile...but inside I find my mind screaming ...

"But you don't really know me! You don't know that sometimes I stay upstairs for longer than I need to just to have some time away from them, you don't know how much screen time they have, you don't know how many sweets I let them eat!" 

Last week at the spiritualist centre I go to, a couple of women started complimenting me on how good I am at what we do there and complimenting me as a person too...I found myself coming away feeling upset. UPSET. Because people had complimented and been nice to me.

Because I just couldn't understand or accept the things they were saying about me to be true. 

I can hazard guesses to where these feelings come from - I endured a childhood of bullying from peers at school, never felt as though I had any real friendships and was always painfully aware that I wasn't liked by anybody outside of my own family - so perhaps it's just a case of these feelings being difficult to shake off as an adult.

But imposter syndrome plagues my life in a myriad of other ways too.

The biggest impact being the one it has on my work.

It holds me back in so many ways from trying to do things I'd like to do, because I manage to convince myself that I would fail before I even try. 

It amazes me that I've managed to work for myself for the last 6 years and earn a living, but yet I still doubt my own abilities as a writer to the point where - despite the fact that my biggest dream is to write a book - I've never taken a single step toward achieving that goal.

I tell myself that it's because I don't know where to start, because I don't have the educational background, because I don't have the experience....but whilst all of these things are true, they're not the real reason.

The real reason is - because I don't believe that I have what it takes. 

Oh I WANT to have what it takes, but I don't believe that I actually possess the talent, skills or creativity to achieve it. Nor do I believe that anyone would have any interest in reading something by me. I feel that if I approached anybody about it, they would laugh at me...ask me who exactly I think I am and call me out as the fraud I believe myself to be, deep down.

That same belief holds me back from all of the things I'd love to do in my working life - I'd love to host events...I dream of hosting events to inspire and teach other bloggers how to build their online profiles and turn them into profit, I would LOVE to host events helping women to learn how to love themselves as they are...but I will probably never take any steps toward achieving those things, because my inner critic tells me that I'm just not that person.

I'm not cut out for great things...I lack the leadership skills, nobody would be interested enough in anything I have to say to come.

This year, I started a manifestation journal. A notebook to draw and write in, full of the things I'd love to attract into my life this year.

One of those things was that I wanted to speak at an event. 

As I doodled an image of myself with a megaphone, imagining myself standing in front of a room full of people delivering a speech - I felt deep down that it would never actually happen.

But last week, I was invited to speak.

It's nothing huge, just a local cafe hosting an event in celebration of International Womens Day - the owner follows my Instagram and asked if I'd go along to speak for half an hour about body positivity.

I forced myself to say yes before even allowing myself to think about, because I knew if I thought about it that I'd talk myself out of it.

But as I sit here trying to write that talk and imagine myself in that room, the imposter syndrome is strong.

"Who are you to give a speech on body positivity?" I ask myself  " You don't know enough about this. You don't have enough experience. Do they know who you actually are? Maybe they've got the wrong person. Maybe they think you're somebody else..."

All of these thoughts and more have filled my mind ever since I accepted the offer.

Imposter syndrome is a bitch to deal with, and honestly I doubt that it's something I'll ever be able to fully overcome...

But despite all of the negative beliefs I hold about myself, I know one thing....I love to prove myself wrong.

And even though I'll be standing up there convinced that I'm making no sense, that nobody is interested in what I'm saying and that they're all just waiting for me to shut up and go away....I will force myself to do it anyway.

2018 was the year I embraced body confidence and stopped hating on my body for what it isn' maybe 2019 can be the year I embrace the art of proving my inner naysayer wrong.

"It's not what you are that holds you back, it's what you think you are not"

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