Imposter Syndrome

Man in scary mask imposterIn the early days of graduate school, I had a major case of Impostor Syndrome. Nearly everyone I was with had it too. I know because we talked about it openly.  

We all walked into this new, intimidating situation, sizing each other up. What’s special about you? How did you earn your spot here? Is it warranted? 

Now I see that THIS was what was going on (this is what people call Imposter Syndrome):

  1. My mind made up ideas about what was required to succeed in this environment and what it would mean about me if I didn’t succeed.
  2. I didn’t realize those ideas were made of incredibly biased thought. I truly believed they were solid and true.
  3. My mind assumed that I likely wouldn’t live up to the standards but everyone else likely would.
  4. I went through school feeling like an imposter, like I needed some traits or qualities I assumed everyone else had.

It’s a funny little trap we find ourselves in, isn’t it? 

We experience this in new jobs, new schools, as new parents, as if there is a real problem, oblivious to the fact that the entire thing is made of inaccurate thoughts taken as truth.

“I can’t live up to this” or “They’re going to find out I’m not so great” are incredibly clear alarm bells showing you that your mind is creating a ton of inaccurate assumptions, and imbuing them with a lot of personal meaning. It’s the meaning that hurts. Even if I had failed out of graduate school, leaving school wasn’t what I was afraid of. What I thought it meant about me was what I was afraid of. 

Imposter Syndrome is you innocently giving your mind’s meaning-making, fictional creations a ton of credibility. 

In the biggest sense, we’re all imposters anyway. None of us are what we think we are, thankfully. We’re too always-enough for a mind to even fathom.

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