Have you ever been in a setting where you thought,” I hope no one finds out that I actually don’t deserve to be here.” This could be in a business setting with esteemed professionals or just a friendly, social gathering surrounded by beautiful, creative people. We all struggle with confidence issues or self-doubt at times, but if we find ourselves constantly anxious, striving to prove our worth, there may be a deeper issue.
I first heard about imposter syndrome from my husband several years ago, and it completely overwhelmed me because I immediately related to it. Imposter syndrome is defined as feelings of inadequacy where one doubts their accomplishments and has a constant fear of being exposed as a “fraud” despite evident success. I meet so many people who politely shun compliments to their success by attributing them only to luck or to the people around them, never actually acknowledging that they themselves had anything to do with the success they’ve garnered. Yes, we get lucky sometimes, and yes, the people around us make significant contribution to our successes, but ultimately, it’s up to us to use the luck and the requisite support to produce measures of success.
I believe this phenomenon is something most people experience today. Some may be seen as high-performing or ambitious, so their outer image may seem to indicate unwavering confidence and steadfastness, but in reality, their inner world can be in chaos and unrest.
Imposter syndrome is rooted in shame and perfectionism. Shame tells us to hide who we genuinely are, concealing any perceived weakness, because we will never be enough. It lies to us that we are flawed, unlovable, and unacceptable, so we must hide behind something that is acceptable to society. Perfectionism is a trap that leaves us at constant unrest as we strive for an unattainable, superhuman standard. By choosing to believe these lies, we live in bondage to them and live unfulfilled as we hide who we truly are to the world.
If you struggle with imposter syndrome, know that you‘re not alone! I struggle with this myself and it’s likely that the person next to us does, too. To conquer it, we need to learn to love ourselves and fully accept ourselves for who we are, flaws and all. We need to unlearn the world’s pressures of success and outward image and instead adopt freer, better-fulfilled lives that comes with loving all of ourselves.
When anxious thoughts come up, have a selah moment. Pause, take a deep breath, and catch those thoughts. Silence them by reminding yourself of who you are and how amazing you truly are. Consider your reality - the reality that you are doing an amazing job and you’ve made it this far despite the hardships and obstacles! Celebrate the victories along your journey and feel free to have a dance party over your achievements.
Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, know that you belong there. You are not just occupying space, but your presence and your voice is needed and valued. You are not an imposter! I hope we all come to love the unique expression of greatness in us!