Imposter Syndrome is a Thief. We Deserve More


Guess what? Imposter syndrome isn’t real. It’s a lie. Honestly. Imposter syndrome is simply a way for us to protect ourselves from the vulnerability we feel when we experience things like joy, excitement, and confidence.

I’m not sure if it’s my age and experience, or having faced cancer that’s brought me to a place where I refuse to sandbag myself and limit my own potential. Besides, feeling joy is awesome! Why would I want to limit the amount of joy in my life?

The hard truth is that none of us are getting out of this life alive, so I am planning on experiencing as much joy and excitement as I possibly can. I have zero time or tolerance for anything that will take that away from my life.

I am a writer.

I won’t stop saying it until actual, factual experiences tell me otherwise.

As a professional, I know what I’m talking about.

I have over 20 years experience. I’m up-to-date on current research. I AM GOOD AT WHAT I DO. There is no reason for me to ever doubt my abilities. Besides, all that does is add stress to my daily work. How does that help me in any way?

It doesn’t. But, in a rather misguided way, we think that by not being proud of our abilities, playing down our strengths, is a way to protect ourselves from feeling embarrassed or disappointment when someone says we’re not.

(Psst: Feeling confident can make you feel vulnerable. But that’s okay…you can live through it; it’s risky but it’s worth it.)

When I was asked to give a keynote presentation, I prepared as if I were an actual keynote speaker, because on that day, I was one. Clearly, the person who asked me to speak felt as though I had something of value to say – there would be no point in questioning that.

What good would that do? Nothing. Except take away my own joy and excitement of the experience.

Feeling like an imposter would maybe serve as a protection to soften the embarrassment if people didn’t applaud or respond positively to my speech. No. That is a falsehood.

Other people’s opinions about us don’t define who we are. If they didn’t like my speech, it wouldn’t mean that I wasn’t good at it or had something valuable to say. If a student doesn’t like me an instructor, it doesn’t mean I’m not good at what I do. If someone doesn’t like what I write, it doesn’t mean I’m not a good writer.

Think about it this way: If someone called you a chair, would you agree with them? If they said over and over that you were a chair, would you ever in a million years begin to agree that you actually are a chair?

Your value, your gifts, talents, and strengths are not determined by other people. Take on the role. Identify yourself in the way that brings you joy. Describe yourself in the way that makes you proud. Be confident.

I promise you, this is the only life you have – the joy and confidence you are seeking aren’t going to eventually fall in your lap. CLAIM IT NOW.

As I tell my kids, and often remind myself, nothing we do will ever stop us from feeling disappointment or embarrassment.

But spending our life trying to keep that from happening will only keep away the other wonderful emotions like joy and confidence. To me, that’s not an good return on investment. In fact, that’s an awful way to spend your emotional currency. You are more valuable than that. xoxo

(c) Melanie Forstall – Stories of Life, Love, and Mothering


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