Embracing Authenticity

While cruising through the Jacksonville airport earlier this week, Jay pointed out a magazine cover that was showcasing an article about imposter syndrome, and we laughed – both joking about needing to read it. Because believe it or not, imposter syndrome affects all kinds of people, from all walks of life, yet it’s not something we really talk about.

Have you ever been in a situation where you find yourself questioning your worth, feeling like a fraud despite everything you’ve accomplished (at work, at the gym)? If so, you’re not alone. Impostor syndrome, characterized by persistent self-doubt and a fear of exposure, affects most of us at some point in our lives.

Impostor syndrome can manifest itself in a bunch of different ways, but some of the most common ways are, doubting your abilities, feeling unworthy of your success, feeling like you don’t belong, and attributing your achievements to luck or external factors. It often arises in high-achieving individuals, regardless of their expertise or accomplishments. And the irony is, those who experience it tend to be highly competent, but they struggle to recognize their own success.

Now what causes imposter syndrome exactly? Well, the causes of impostor syndrome are often multifaceted and can even stem from several sources. You won’t be shocked to learn that perfectionism usually plays a significant role, since individuals with overly high standards often find it difficult to recognize their own achievements. Additionally, comparison – comparing yourself to others, especially in the age of social media – can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy, intensifying imposter syndrome.

Anyone who’s felt the effects of imposter syndrome knows how challenging it can be to live with, but I have good news, there are some things we can do about it. So, listen up my friend.

First things first. We need to get our negative self-talk in check. We need to actively challenge negative thoughts and beliefs that reinforce impostor syndrome and replace all of those self-defeating statements with positive affirmations. We need to focus on our accomplishments and strengths, not our failures and weaknesses.

We need to get better at accepting the fact that making mistakes and experiencing setbacks are just part of the learning process and that it happens to everyone. We need to embrace vulnerability (which isn’t a bad thing) as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. We all go through ups and downs. It. Is. Okay.

We need to learn to celebrate our achievements. Let’s start by acknowledging and celebrating all of our accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem. Cherishing our successes, and keeping a record of them, so we can remember our capabilities during moments of self-doubt when they arise (because they will).

Another great tool is to embrace a growth mindset and prioritize learning. We need to recognize that knowledge is a journey, and it’s natural to have areas where we still have room to grow. Instead of focusing on what we don’t know, we need to channel our energy into expanding our skills and expertise.

Impostor syndrome may be an unwelcome visitor or a constant companion, but either way, it doesn’t have to define us. By understanding the nature of impostor syndrome, it’s possible to combat it and live a fulfilling, and more importantly, an authentic life. If you remember one thing from this post, my friend, let it be this – we are all capable, deserving, and worthy of our successes. Yes, you too. Fully embrace your uniqueness and let go of the fear of being exposed. You belong exactly where you are.

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