I’m an imposter.
Well, not actually, but sometimes it feels like it. You know the buzz phrase “imposter syndrome”—its most basic definition being feeling inadequate internally while achieving success in the external world. We all have likely experienced this phenomenon ourselves or know people who have.
So why is it that many people, a large amount being extremely high achieving individuals, feel as though they don’t deserve their success? It’s an interesting concept to ponder and dissect as everyone from the mailman down the street to Beyoncé has the capability of feeling inadequate, even if they’ve received an abundance of external praise.
What I believe it comes down to is a lack of not only self confidence and self worth, but also self trust. Yes, it’s a hard pill to swallow admitting to lacking these three things to some degree, but many of us are guilty of letting these intrusive thoughts win at times. We may not feel totally confident in our abilities, therefore doubting what we’re capable of. We may not feel as though we are worthy of success or praise. These questioning mentalities may not hinder us to the point of not finding success, but when against all odds it does find us, we dispute it as if it can’t be true even when it’s staring us in the face.
Imposter syndrome has shown up for me personally in many different instances in my life. What many of you may not know is, I’m a singer. Even when writing that simple phrase, “I’m a singer”, I still feel a twinge of “that’s false”. Because I don’t write my own songs, never studied music, have only performed on occasion for fun, and don’t consider myself to be an expert on the topic in any sense, it’s hard for me to claim that title for myself.
Even though I’ve received countless praise from family, friends, singing coaches, and even strangers, gotten paid to sing at coffee shops and bars, and have been singing since I could talk, because I haven’t met the prerequisites I’ve set in my mind that all “singers” must have, I simply can’t consider myself a true singer.
We all have these certain qualifications/degrees/prerequisites in our minds that allow us to say “I am __” or “I accomplished __”. But what happens when we check off every box and we still feel like an imposter? While there are certainly things we can do to make us feel more deserving of an accomplishment (prep work, schooling, practice, etc.), it truly does boil down to how we feel about ourselves and what we believe we deserve.
I encourage you to take a look at your own life and see if you can pinpoint a time when you felt like an imposter. Was it getting the promotion you didn’t think you deserved? Winning MVP on your team when you didn’t think you played your best that season? Writing a successful book when you’ve never even taken a writing class?
Sometimes—maybe many times—the prerequisites we place on our lives are bullshit. The fact of the matter is, we reached success because we deserved it. If we didn’t, it wouldn’t have found us. I didn’t need to be an expert in music, have my own album, and graduate from Berklee to have a successful performance.
We all put limitations on ourselves. I’d like to say screw the limitations, screw the doubting, the questioning, the feeling less-than. Because we are so worthy of all the amazing things that happen to us in our lives and whether we always believe it or not, we play a role in our success.
So the next time you’re doubting yourself, remind yourself that most of your pre-rec’s are BS. You are where you are today because of you. Whatever you claim for yourself is yours.