Do you feel like an imposter?
Ever wondered when you are going to be found out? Ever thought that you don’t deserve to be where you are? Well you are not alone, probably you and many of the people around you, particularly if you are driven or a high achiever. This is a bit of my story.
I have always been a fairly loud out there kind of person, I suspect other people see me as confident and possibly even “sorted” whatever that means, but just like many people I have spent my life waiting for someone to “find me out!”. I have been reminded about this recently as I have been reading Amy Cuddy’s book “Presence” and I would particularly recommend you looking up her TED talk.
At forty I decided it was time to run the London Marathon. Since about the age of 14 I had promised myself that I would one day. Life however became busy with studying, having fun, working and having kids. Then one day I woke up and decided that if I didn’t do it now I would miss the moment, and the only person I would be kidding was myself. So I did my training, got shingles the week before, and made it to the start line. I knew that once that happened I would make the end, and I did in a rather painful 5 hours 9 minutes, but I had done what I had set out to do. The next day was one of the most miserable of my life.
I had completed this thing that had been on my goals list for the last 24 years and I felt completely rubbish! I don’t mean in an “I can’t walk everything aches” kind of way, but in a “I thought I would feel good about myself, like I had achieved something” way, but I still felt less than average. I had booked on a course that day, as I had suspected that I wouldn’t be in a place to do much work. I ended up in tears for some reason, and I remember the course leader saying “most people don’t need to run a marathon to prove to themselves they are good enough!” Whilst she may be right about the marathon bit, I think she is wrong about the general sentiment. I see that very many of us spend our lives thinking “when I have achieved (insert goal of your choice) I will feel good enough/ successful/happy with me”. I think very many of us don’t feel enough, and are constantly waiting for someone else to notice or catch us out.
It has been a bit of a journey to get to a place where I like myself and mostly think I am enough. Occasionally too long on Facebook, looking at how wonderfully well everyone else is doing can sap that feeling if I am tired or in overwhelm, but mostly I know now that all I have to be is me. When I show up as all of me I give others permission to do the same. Being me is the most important valuable thing either you or I can do.
On Fresh Air Fridays one of our values is that we accept people just as they are, for many of us the most important place for that acceptance is to start it with ourselves.