I lived life, as a young girl, with spirit, curiosity and confidence. My childhood was certainly not idyllic and was often fraught with upheaval, change and family drama. Yet I embraced life and all of its adventure with enthusiasm and hope for better days. I was sure that better days were to come. And I couldn’t wait to be an adult.
I lived life, as a young girl, with spirit, curiosity and confidence.
I thought adults were the best. Adults had things sorted. Adults made decisions, they knew stuff, they were the ones making things happen and doing all the cool things. I was desperate to be an adult and all the freedom, excitement and adventure that adult life would bring.
With this I was a rather ambitious child. I dreamed of being on stage. I loved to create and perform. I wanted to change the world and make a difference. You know, all the grand ideas and dreamings of your average enthusiastic child.
I thought to myself, one day I’ll be a famous film star sharing stories that mean something and using my money and fame to make a difference to those less fortunate. It was all part of ‘the plan’. Mostly borne out of the fact that I didn’t understand how there were so many rich people in the world and yet even more people living in poverty and starving. It drove me insane to think about it. And being somewhat idealistic I had decided I would be the one to change that.
Fast forward to my late teens and things began to go downhill. Insecurity and feelings of worthlessness crept in. A number of reasons for this that I probably could write another essay about, but needless to say that being around some somewhat unfavourable types in my teens did not help my sense of self.
By my twenties I was in university, studying a degree which I loved and helped to expand my mind and understanding of people from all over the world. I was taught skills in critique and empathy. I learned how to read between the lines, to seek out context, to delve deeper than assumptions. I was given the tools to investigate and question. I found a totally new way of thinking about the world that I will be forever grateful for.
But things weren’t going so well for me in my own head.
My feelings of worthlessness continued. Nothing was good enough. My luck with relationships, both romantically and friendship wise, was not the best. And no matter how hard I tried nor the level of effort I put into other people, I continued to feel lonely and unworthy.
By the the time I left university I was totally lost. That little girl with the ambition and fervour for the world was now confused and unsure. Instead of jumping ahead and seeking out opportunities I second-guessed myself.
I didn’t feel ready.
I didn’t feel good enough.
I didn’t feel like I knew enough.
I didn’t feel I was experienced enough.
Everyone around me appeared to have their shit together. People were doing well. They were getting the careers they wanted, fulfilling relationships, solid friendships.
I, on the other hand, was stuck like a rabbit in the headlights. Totally stuck. Unable to move.
My twenties consisted of constant change and a meandering journey of trying new things and trying to figure it out. Just when I felt like I was heading in a good direction something would hold me back from taking the giant risk, the big leap, the opportunities to do something even better. I just kept saying to myself, you’re not good enough yet.
Just when I felt like I was heading in a good direction something would hold me back from taking the giant risk, the big leap, the opportunities to do something even better. I just kept saying to myself, you’re not good enough yet.
I felt like an imposter.
I can’t apply for that job, I’m not good enough yet.
I can’t reach out to that person because they won’t think I’m their kind of person.
I am not cool enough to be contacting that company.
I am not successful yet to be asking for help.
It’s a spiral. Imposter syndrome is a giant spiral of self-doubt, worthlessness and total paralysis. It’s the misguided assumption that everyone else is better. And it took me until my thirties to realise it was total bullshit.
Imposter syndrome cripples so many people. I know that I am not the only one. It holds people back from being their true, authentic self. It stops them from making meaningful connections. And most importantly, it prevents them from making that valued contribution they born to do.
So here we are.
I’ve learned some lessons over the past few years and the most important is this:
Nobody actually has all their shit together. Nobody really knows what they’re doing. Nobody is better nor worse than you.
Following from that I’ve learned:
Everyone has a different path and different journey to make. We are all at different stages on that path and not a single one is comparable. No matter how lost you are there is always something you have to offer. You are VALUABLE.
Whilst I feel lucky to be on a journey now where I recognise that I can make a difference, that I am worth something, I am still sad that I lost my entire twenties to imposter syndrome. When I look back at all the missed opportunities I am gutted that I let something like that totally floor me.
If you are reading this and you think you might be suffering with imposter syndrome please know that you can change your mindset. Please tell yourself that you are important, valuable and there are people out there that need your contribution to the world. Not everyone has their shit together, and you can totally do whatever it is you are passionate about.
Overcoming imposter syndrome is a journey, the self-doubt and moments of worthlessness can creep in. But if you take a moment to yourself and remember what it is that makes you rad, you can often work through it.