Hi. My name is Jen and I’m an impostor. Or, at least, I sometimes feel like I am.
Some of you might be thinking, Ah-ha! I knew there was something fishy about her. But, really, what I’m talking about here is impostor syndrome.
For those of you who haven’t heard the term before, here’s Wikipedia’s definition of impostor syndrome:
“A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments, and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud’.”
People demonstrate impostor syndrome and deal with it in different ways. For me, it shows up in the form of overachieving and striving for perfection in what I do and how I come across to others — all to avoid the fear of failure.
How’s that for being real?
I struggled with low self-confidence for years. I constantly compared myself to others, judging every little thing I knew about myself against what I could see in others. When, in my eyes, I fell short in comparison, I’d get upset at myself. And let me tell you, it’s all too easy to say harsh, demeaning words to and about yourself.
To cope with all that, I did my best to make sure people liked me. This resulted in the formation of my coping mechanism — make ’em laugh. If you get them laughing with you, then they’re less likely to laugh at or about you.
When I began writing this post and started pondering the idea of impostor syndrome, I realized we’re really dealing with the issue of identity, with who we are at the core. Because if we don’t know who we are, it’s hard to fulfill our purpose.
But that’s the thing with impostor syndrome: We’re the ones who know ourselves too well. We know what no one else knows about us. That sometimes we don’t know what we’re doing. That sometimes we’re crippled with doubt. That sometimes we fake it ’til we make it.
And we’re scared to death that somebody will see through our mask and discover the real us. They’ll see us as impostors.
But really, we’re the ones seeing ourselves as impostors, so we become conflicted about our true identity.
Who are you?
I ask this question, hoping you’ll answer it honestly. Because for me, I realized who I was — and my self-worth — only when I answered that question. But more than just answering it, I had to believe the answer and act on it.
Who am I?
I am a child of God.
He created me, knowing — and forming — my talents and my faults. He knew from the beginning how the good and bad parts of me would be used. He took my coping mechanism and turned it into an intrinsic part of who I am, for the good. Because He knew how much I would love making people laugh — not to make myself feel better or to avoid being laughed at, but because “a merry heart does good like a medicine.”
God wasn’t surprised by the various phases — the dips, surges and plateaus — of my life. Instead, He loved me for who I was, even though I didn’t deserve it. And He chose to die for me so I could become who I was meant to be — His daughter.
“But to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God.” – John 1:12