The ‘Imposter Syndrome’. Banish it.

‘We can live in a world that we designed …

However big, however small, let me be part of it all.’

A million dreams. Pink.

‘This psychological phenomenon, known as Imposter syndrome, reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.

In short, it’s a hot mess of harmfulness.’  The Muse.

Imagine if we all just trusted ourselves.  Believed that we were worth something, not just in glimmers of light or a break in the clouds, but that we were always worth it, and stopped self sabotaging – first do no harm of course, but more importantly, do no self harm.

The Imposter Syndrome is often associated with those who are already high achievers: the doers that have done and now doubt that they actually did achieve, but continually inflict doubt upon their abilities and in so doing, lessen their own self worth.  We think of the ‘Imposter Syndrome’ as one pertaining to specialists, business men and women, those who are of high standing and successful.

But we suffer from the Imposter Syndrome on every level. No matter who we are, we doubt, and it is that doubt that cripples us.  Others may never see it, we may not show it, but it exists in every one of one us – I am not capable, I am not enough, I am not worthy. Who will believe in me, can I really do this, am I up for it … how will I muster the courage to invest in myself and in so doing, make a difference in my life?

I have felt the fraud.  Life has made me doubt myself.  What do I really have to show for myself at this age, was what I did before amount to nothing if I don’t have the label, the status, the financial wealth and the social standing others have?  Do I count at all and more importantly, how do I go on from here – how to begin again, gain the confidence to break free from any ties that bind and make something of myself.  Good old doubt, good old disbelief that it is too late, has amounted to little to show for it, that my life has been, well average. I hear you. I hear me.

There are types of sufferers of The Imposter Syndrome.  The perfectionist who will not ask for help, believing that if they did not do everything themselves they would eventually be caught out as frauds, as imposters.  There are the Super people who continue to study, to gather certificates by the dozen in the belief that enough is never enough for fear of being, caught out.

The genius, always the overachiever, who fails to keep up with the expectations of others, or the expectations they perceived that are thrust upon them.

The expert, according to ‘The Muse‘ who is always lauded for being the go to person and cannot ever admit to not knowing, but fears being found out for not knowing everything.

Recognise yourself?  I am guilty and have been for a long time.  For a time it was simple, follow the rules and do the duty, but when faced with another life, a different situation, fear of being seen as less, not worthy and incapable of driving myself forward, I fell into the Imposter Syndrome.  Whatever I thought I could be, evolved into falling short of my belief that I was not capable.  On the outside I knew it all, had done the homework and could speak for hours on every subject, give advice, but actually put the dagger to the sticking point – well that was a whole different story.  Who would trust me if I did not trust myself?  Asking for help was a sign of failure, of weakness.  Yet I always spoke of it all, tried a little of it, and never quite took the leap into the unknown for fear of falling short.  I would then, I believe, be found out as the fraud, the talker rather than the doer and rather than face failure and possible mockery, did little. Best to hide behind the knowledge than fail in the trying.

Sadly, the Imposter Syndrome was of my own making. And there were always excuses.  I have them, and then I hear others at this stage of our lives, succumbing to the listless living of little gratitudes, of acceptance rather than trying, perhaps for the first time, to be the person they were meant to be.

Can’t do that.  In her acceptance speech at the Baftas, Phoebe Waller-Bridge thanked her mother, who said: ‘ Darling you can be whatever you want to be, as long as you’re outrageous.’

My mother said, find a good husband and live a simple life. Like I did.  Don’t stir the waters, so to speak. Bless her heart. Within that beautiful world of marriage and raising children, I did feed the burning curiosity of learning about absolutely everything, but not acting on it.

I didn’t believe I could. Never felt the imposter in pouring my life and knowledge into them.

And when they grew and left, I felt inadequate to try anything new, something I thought I could do, but held back for fear of being the fraud. Confidence lacking syndrome. Imposter Syndrome; Hold so many degrees, certificates, diplomas and nurtured the mind but launch myself into a business, open a shop, put myself out there, at my age … was too big a task, even for myself. And I have procrastinated, lingered, loitered in the green room. What if my family saw me as a fraud, not the example to follow, if others rejected my ideas, if no-one wanted me? The doubt was my own invention and in that the Imposter Syndrome, at this age, became the milestone around my own neck.

it doesn’t matter what it’s called today, Imposter Syndrome or the lack of confidence, it is what it is. A lack of belief in that I matter, that I can do what I want to, to fulfil my life in the coming years.  It is a question, when it comes down to it, of whether I am going to settle for a gratitude journal or walk tall into the unknown, trying and failing and trying again until I can actually say:

‘However big, however small, let me be part of it all.’

Not a spectator to my own life.  Not a feeble excuse not to try. Not the gatherer of knowledge and ideas and the instrument of my own doubt.

Ageism is a thing of the past. We form one of the largest communities of doers, changers and those with an income for change. Paid our dues, worked hard, contributed in our own way, but if we begin to fear lessoned, reduced in anyway, it is our own imagination. Time for a re-brand.

Whatever your situation now, it is never acceptable to resign to life. Life is only what you, now in your situation, will make of it. Re-brand with the confidence that you can choose a different path, fall hard for it will make you feel more alive, change if you have to and in the end, realise that you can overcome the ‘Syndrome’ of resignation and defeat and find another beacon to reach.

Rebrand yourself.  Gather the knowledge of life and use it for good.  For your good, for your sanity and satisfaction and banish that Imposter Syndrome to the the wings while you take centre stage of your own production.

I am scared about doing it. I doubt still. I have no choice though, for I cannot submit to idea of just being content.  I need to be fierce still, to be worthy of my life and in the end, to be just in that I gave myself the opportunities to not be a fraud, but a legend in my own eyes.

And if I can reach. fall and reach again, so can you.

Image: The format.