Could you imagine looking yourself in the mirror and not recognizing who you are? No, I’m not referring to a case of amnesia or an early diagnosis of dementia either. Have you ever heard of imposter syndrome? It literally means that you have internalized a fear of failing or proving not to be able to produce something, in which you have the competent skillset and adequate necessities to do so. Imagine being the incomparable Whitney Houston back in the 80 and 90s and saying, “Oh, I’m not going to sing, because I am not that great of a singer.” Did you Scooby Doo, “AROO?” Exactly, so maybe you haven’t physically looked in a mirror and not recognized yourself, but mentally and internally you are downplaying some of the greatest assets of your identity.
Fear is a funny thing. The only way that fear exists is for you to make it real. We laugh at children when we try to calm their irrational fears of boogeymen and things of that nature. However, as adults the realities of exploring our deepest passions and dreams are saying, “BOO,” every day that put them on a backburner. We try to excuse it by giving mature and sound reasoning. We blame it on resources, timing, and inadequacies. However, excuses are only combatted by action. If you never take action, then excuses are simply bridges to nowhere. They help you to procrastinate and feed the imposter syndrome that threatens to see how far you can level up. Let’s identify some ways that we can spot imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head and combat it:
1. “Everybody’s doing it.”
You love something and just because someone else is doing it and it seems to be successful, you feel that you are not welcome to the table. Furthermore, maybe you feel in comparison that others are better than you. Comparison is a thief of joy. Could you imagine if the great Michelangelo saw Leonardo da Vinci’s work and decided there wasn’t room for his art. We would have missed out on a major era of art which inspired many more to come. Their pieces spoke for themselves and they both are still mentioned and valued today for their contributions. What you do, won’t be like what another person does just because it’s the same field. No two minds are alike. Imagine talent as a lightbulb. Each room has their own lightbulb, right? Maybe, you can see the light from another room, but it can only fully light one place. Let your talent shine its light in its own space. There is room for you. More importantly, explore what you love, for YOU. Be your own competition to see the best out of yourself.
2.“Am I good enough? Will people like it?”
In life we have to understand the saying “different strokes for different folks.” Think of it as the, “Who is the greatest male dancer debate?” Depending on who is in the room, you’re going to hear names ranging from James Brown to MJ to Usher to Chris Brown and so on and so forth. At the end of the day, people are going to like who they like and put people on the pedestals they see fit. Your job is perfect your craft and get an audience who will like what you are offering. I repeat, “Be your own competition to see the best out of yourself!” Of course, practice and find inspiration from who or what inspires you. All the greats in any field was inspired by someone or something else. The key is to take that inspiration and make your own mark and impression using what you have.
3.“I can’t do it.”
Maybe, someone you looked up to did not give you constructive criticism and shot you down. Maybe, you failed a few times. Maybe, you simply need more practice to finetune the skill. However, simply saying you can’t and don’t try or put forth your best effort is the only way that you fail. You love something and maybe have even been praised about it before. If you love it then keep working at it. This is not that toxic relationship that you need to get away from. This is your passion. This is what makes you happy and what could possibly bring joy to others. Sometimes our passions lead us to bigger or better things. You may discover on that failing journey that something about this pursuit was destined for you, so don’t let imposter syndrome sneak up on you and taunt you, because things are not going so smoothly. Your passions do not have to be your complete livelihood while you’re working on it, but don’t put it off as an insignificant hobby that you do not put time into either. You may discover its more. Stop downplaying yourself or allowing others to do it.
Now, next time you feel “IPS” creeping up hit it with a “Hey Imposter Syndrome, allow me to reintroduce myself …”