Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Let's Talk About Impostor Syndrome

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

Have you ever felt like people are going to realize you are a fraud? That you work isn't good enough and should not be shared?

I know I have. This is called "Impostor Syndrome," a pattern of doubts in one's accomplishments that creates a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. I am feeling this a lot these days.

I have published my first novel. I am over the moon proud of myself for accomplishing this feat and making my dream come true. I get a thrill seeing my name pop up on Amazon where you can buy my book, Leap of Faith. I have an author profile on Amazon and Goodreads. People I don't know have bought my book.

These all define success for me.

So why don't I feel like it is enough? Why do I feel like my book is insufficient on the market? Why do I read another book and wish I could write that well?

Impostor Syndrome.

This psychological phenomenon affects 70% of the population, according to Forbes. It does help me to know I'm not alone in that overwhelming fear of inadequacy. Maybe you feel it too? You are not alone either!

I wondered why this is such a common feeling for so many people, especially writers and creators. This severe self-doubt is not only low self-confidence, according to Mind Tools, but also linked to anxiety, depression and a fear of success or failure. It is a constant fear of exposure, isolation and rejection.

Fear is heavy and tricks our brains into convincing ourselves we are not good enough - that our accomplishments are somehow luck and not skill.

This is a lie!

It is often hard to recognize it as such, especially when you are feeling low, but know you are not an impostor. You are beautiful, original and worthy.

To break away from this self-deprecating pattern can by hard and emotional work, but it is necessary for your growth.

First, find the source of your fear. Self doubt can be triggered by internal and external struggles. Once you get honest with yourself about what you are afraid of, you can understand that fear and comfort your inner self.

Then focus on the facts and not your feelings. Recognize other stresses that are going on around you. If you are feeling stressed or pulled in many directions, self-doubt is easily triggered.

It is time to flip the script. You don't have to prove yourself to anyone. You are learning and always growing. Don't beat yourself up about something you didn't know before you learned it. Take time to focus on the victories, no matter how small.

Finally, embrace your story. When you believe in yourself, others will too. We are human and flawed, but we also have a beautiful capacity for learning and growing.

When impostor syndrome hits the hardest, you are often close to a breakthrough. That moment when you want to walk away in fear, stop and look inward. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. What is coming up?

For me, it was a disappointment in myself for not making my work a priority. The entire week went by and everything else was important enough to get done, but not editing my novel. I felt like a failure and a fraud. How can I call myself a writer if I'm not writing?

The reality is, it's been a busy and emotional week. I acknowledge that this is my reality. I also accept that I did work on my novel, I simply didn't get as far as I wanted. Part of this was because it needed more editing than I originally thought, and that is okay.

By acknowledging what comes up and accepting the answer, I can move forward in a productive way. Instead of spending time feeling bad and guilty that I haven't gotten as much done this week that I wanted, I can sit down and work with an open heart and sense of curiosity.

We are all creators and it is scary being vulnerable. Our creations are a piece of ourselves. That is also the beauty of liberal arts. This is what connects us, art is what makes life worth living.

Be proud of who you are. You are amazing and capable. Impostor syndrome will not win. My voice matters and so does yours. Raise it proudly. Face your fear and stand tall beautiful human. Your work is valuable and is worthy of sharing with the world.

Sending you peace and love!

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