This thought entered my mind and brought an instant smile to my face. It’s a thought that I want to share with you today. In a society where we are constantly competing and racing to prove our worth, we often tend to beat ourselves up over not feeling accomplished enough. We look at what our peers are achieving and we feel small and somehow less competent or worthy.We hear a tiny voice within us that says:
“Are you sure you’re ready?” What gives YOU the right to try this?” “You’ll be so embarrassed when you fail.” “Don’t even bother.”
That little voice whispering that you are not fit to succeed or even try is indicative of something called “impostor syndrome,” a phrase coined in the late 1970s by two psychologists. It refers to high-achievers who experience an unrelenting fear of being exposed as “frauds” to their peers and struggle with intense feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt. Though impostor syndrome is commonly attributed to women, it actually affects almost everyone and results in self-imposed limits marked by a sensation of unworthiness.In the first part of this post, I described the significance of this dress. I shared how prior to moving to Los Angeles how I felt anxious about the transition to a new environment, and at some level was fearful over how others would perceive me. Today I want to discuss the larger topic of imposter syndrome and give you advice that I wish I had been given on ways to ditch feelings of unworthiness once and for all. Stop comparing yourself to others. There is a distinct difference between giving your best and being the best. Likewise, there’s a distinct difference between trying to better yourself and being better than everyone else. The true secret to overcoming Imposter Syndrome is self-acceptance: you don’t have to attain perfection to be worthy of the success you’ve achieved. In no way does this mean that you are lowering the bar. No, it’s about resetting it to a realistic standard that doesn’t leave you forever striving and feeling inadequate. Remember you do not have to attain perfection to share something with the world that enriches people’s lives in some way.Own your success. You didn’t get to where you are by chance. Just as we must take responsibility for our failures in life, we must also take responsibility for our successes. Minimizing our successes serves no one. So if you sometimes feel undeserving of your success, try writing a list of all the key things you’ve accomplished over the last 5 years.Focus on the value you bring, not on attaining perfection. One of my dearest mentors would often remind me this past year that “perfect is the enemy of the good.” Meaning that one might never complete a task if one has decided not to stop until it is perfect. It’s in the same way that people may never even begin an important task because they feel reaching perfection is too hard.
Also by being acutely aware of how hard we’re working to keep our head above water and fulfill expectations, we often mistakenly assume others are getting by more effortlessly. The reality is that many people are stretched and struggling just like you. Perhaps not in the same way, but in their own way, with their own unique set of challenges, insecurities, and internal struggles.