THE ONE THING I'M MOST AFRAID TO ADMIT TO YOU
I was listening to Jess Lively's "The Lively Show" the other day and she did a whole show based on the idea of admitting things she'd been afraid to tell her listeners and readers. She invited her listeners to share the things they were afraid to admit and I was inspired by the challenge. So (big breath) here goes:
Not a day goes by where I don't feel like an impostor
Impostor syndrome is quite common in my line of work (marketing) and frankly, it's most common for high-achieving women. I didn't have a name for what I go through for a very long time, so if you haven't heard of impostor syndrome, it's pretty much always feeling like a fraud and like you don't deserve success, regardless of your actual competence or intelligence. In short, I frequently feel like I don't belong, that I'm not smart enough and that I'm undeserving of what I have in my life.
At work, I feel like I can't work hard enough and when something good happens, I write it off as luck or I feel like I've deceived everyone into believing I'm better than I actually am. Among friends and family, I feel like I don't deserve their friendship and that soon they'll discover who I really am and leave (the irony here is that there is no secret identity to discover). Impostor syndrome is very closely related to perfectionism due to the fact that if things aren't perfect, you feel like people will be let down and know you're a fraud... even if you aren't.
I battle feeling this way almost daily and every once in a while, I lose the battle and have a total meltdown. It's not pretty and it feels very overwhelming... so overwhelming in fact (and this is the hardest thing to admit), I feel like giving up. I want to just crawl into a corner and do nothing. I feel like it doesn't matter what I do, I'm letting everyone down and I have no clue if I'm offering any value by being around. The mental self-abuse can get pretty rough.
But when I start to feel that way, there's a part deep inside me (the logical part) that tells me I'm doing ok and all the happiness habits I have built are making things better. All the research and reading, all the podcasts and self-help can't have been a waste. I've worked so hard to get to where I'm at in my happiness and it's only gotten better and better as I continue to grow. It takes usually 24 hours, a really good long nap, and some cuddles from my dog before that deep, logical part of me gains traction again and I'm back to fighting the war against impostor syndrome.
So why I am so afraid to admit it? Because it means I don't have my shit together, it means that I struggle daily with the self-confidence I need to get through the day. It means that cocky confidence I do portray is just a shield. It means that I'm not perfect and that makes me feel like I'm a fraud. Who am I to be writing a blog about happiness? Who am I to try to encourage others? Who am I to put a label on my daily struggles to validate them and who am I to even admit to you that I'm facing this as if you care? This list could go on and on but it really comes down to this:
I struggle with feeling like an impostor and I feel undeserving and fraudulent in nearly every aspect of my life. But now that I've admitted it, maybe things can continue to get better. Maybe now that I've admitted it, you may realize you are not alone if you deal with similar issues, or you'll be more open-minded towards the seemingly tough, high-achieving women you meet and work with.
So there it is. Thank you for reading, for allowing me to share and admit this part of my life. I worry about the fallout and backlash from writing this but I hope it's not as bad as I've feared. Even if only one person reads this and relates... it might have been worth it. If you feel like an impostor or have struggled with something similar, I'd really like to hear from you. Send me a note from the contact page or find me on social media and I'll be sure to respond.
Photo by Scott Webb