End Impostor Syndrome for Good
It has taken me two years to start this blog. Two, whole ass years to do something people start and drop and restart left and right. This kind of hesitation isn’t uncommon for me. For the last 4ish years I have been struggling with a heavy case of “Impostor syndrome” (I definitely think this term is getting over used, but I'm not sure what else to call it.) Impostor syndrome is a concept describing people who can’t internalize their own accomplishments and have an overwhelming fear of being exposed as a "fraud". We feel that our personal accomplishments are never enough and most terrifying of all, we fear everyone around us is going to find out we are faking it.
I first heard this idea explained on one of my favorite podcasts, The Friend Zone. Since then, I’ve done tons of work to free myself, I haven’t quite found a “cure” but I have found some tricks to help me, (and hopefully you) move forward:
Write out your wins
About a year ago I was at m absolute lowest point, struggling with Seasonal Affective Disorder, battling impostor syndrome and trying to complete my last semester of undergrad. A friend advised me to make a list of everything I had ever done that I was proud of. The act of compiling the list helped me tremendously.
We should remind ourselves, regularly, what we have accomplished and how far we’ve come.
Every deadline you’ve met, every award you’ve received, panels you’ve sat on, jobs you landed, exam you aced. Write all of it down! Having a list we can easily grab when we are feeling intimidated will help remind us of what we’ve overcome. Nine times out of ten, we have faced scarier giants than whatever has us #shook at the present moment.
Unfollow some people
This is an easy and obvious win but we skip over it all the time! As much as we hate to admit it we are heavily influenced by our social media. Do yourself a favor, unfollow the people who regularly make you feel inadequate, unattractive, unsuccessful or anything negative. Fill it with people who reinforce the path you are on and that highlight your strengths.
Saturate your social media with people who post positive messages and make you feel affirmed in your journey. Consume social media that feels authentic instead of curated. We’re going to continue to use social media, it is going to continue to influence us. Let’s make sure we have a healthy relationship with our little black screens. Some of my favorite positive instagrammers to follow are @Cravingyellow, @21Ninety and @Sweetpotatosoul.
Chat up your role model
We may feel like we are missing some skill, some connections or need a little nudge in the right direction. Get the perspective of someone who has made it to where you want to end up.Talking to the real person behind the fitness goal or career aspiration we desire reminds us that those people are human too-- which means they struggled to get where they are just like we may be struggling now. More importantly it can reveal that we aren’t as far away from our dreams as we think. Try asking them a few questions like:
Have you ever dealt with deep feelings of self doubt or impostor syndrome?
How did you get over your biggest challenge?
What kind of things are challenging you now?
FIND A MANTRA...OR 5
This has been the most life changing thing I have picked up in the last year. While this may not work for everyone, and not for every situation, I find that having a solid mantra and set of affirming statements anchors me helps carries me through episodes of impostor syndrome. The more you say it and hold in to it, the easier it is to see it become your truth. My favorite mantras are:
The universe has my best interests in mind
I choose calm over anxiety
I am already as great as I want to be. I am already as great as I can possibly be.
Millennials are routinely criticized for wanting to be rewarded for everything and always wanting things for free, but honestly, 20 and 30 somethings are the hardest working people I know! I believe when you accomplish something you should reward yourself! Who else is going to do it?
Rewarding yourself for doing something awesome makes your accomplishments seem real. These rewards can be an opportunity to do double duty and get some self exploration in too. Reward yourself with some alone time by curling up with your favorite tea (or wine...or tequila. Whatevs) and your journal or an amazing book to nourish your soul. If you aren’t a home body (like me, guilty) then challenge yourself with a new experience like a networking event, an ice skating trip with a friend or a daycation to a nearby city. Big or small, find a way to treat yo’self, sis. You work hard, you deserve it.
These tips are far from a complete list. Again, I don't intend to cure anyone's impostor syndrome, I just wanna get us all on track to healing. What steps are you taking to deal with impostor syndrome, or any mental health challenges? Let’s talk it out! Remember, that just like our physical health, our mental health requires continuous maintenance and upkeep. We will never regret making mental maintenance a habit once we get started.