How I Fight Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is the feeling of wearing a mask and playing a role that one does not feel at home in. It is when you feel like you or your work is a fluke, and that you’re a dwarf amongst giants. Many of us have this, especially when we’re in some sort of creative industry. Why? Because we are our own worst enemies and we do not give ourselves enough credit.

We let the voices in our heads spin tales of inadequacies, and we believe them. We look in the mirror and wonder if anyone else realizes that we’re just faking it.

That voice that is throwing hateration in our confidence dancerie has been allowed to take over, and we sit there thinking we’re playing a part we aren’t qualified for. We think we’re not good enough, and more often than not, we are sorely mistaken.

Imposter Syndrome tells us that we need to be perfect, otherwise we are failing. It tells us that everyone else is better than us, because they seem to be further ahead or that they have their shit together more than we do. It tells us that we deserve less than we’re worth, because we are replaceable.

It lies to us. Imposter Syndrome is liar, and too many of us have accepted it as truth. How do we fight it? How do we kick it out of our heads, or at least turn the volume down?

I remind myself that:

  • I am not the best. I don’t have to be. I am enough. The idea of “best” is temporary. The person who wins a race won it once. The next race, they might no longer be the best. Are they at least in the top 3? Did they beat their own time from the last race? We can reach for being the best but thinking we’ve lost just because we didn’t win is the quickest way to psyche yourself out.
  • I’ve worked my ass off. At the minimum, that hard work has earned me a ticket in. Even if I am not the best, the fact that I KNOW that I work hard, then maybe that alone is enough to have me in that room. My grind got my foot in the door. I can at least give myself that.
  • Knowing that there are subpar and mediocre ass people out there who still think they belong in the room that your EXCEPTIONAL ass thinks you don’t deserve to be in. Trust and believe that there are people with far less skills than you, who cannot be swayed from thinking that the room should have been named after them. People who cannot hold a torch to you are out here crowning themselves. Never underestimate the power of confidence. If you believe you’re the dopest thing walking, you might convince people of the same, just because you’re so headstrong about it as a fact.
  • Even if I happen to be in the room by accident, and by no doing of my own, I AM IN THAT ROOM. It is no longer an accident. How do I make it intentional and purposeful? Well, I better learn from the best then. I better walk away from that room inspired, with a resolve to be a more superior version of myself. So next time I AM in the room, I feel at home in it.

I’ve ended up in spaces with the people I admire the most (like OPRAH! and Kerry Washington) and each time, I question how I ended up there. EVERY SINGLE TIME. But after I reflect, I go back to some of those reminders. I worked hard for this. I don’t have to be the best. I am enough. Since I’m here, then it is no accident. I walk away knowing that I need to keep doing what got me in that room, and I need to keep doing it well.

Imposter Syndrome does have some redeeming value. It keeps us humble. It keeps us curious. Doubt has purpose sometimes. If we don’t think our work is good enough, we strive to do better and be better. Which then makes us better because practice does just that. It turns us into lifelong climbers who DO end up belonging in any room they end up in, because they’ve continued to work at their craft. And they’ve earned a slot in any space.

“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” — Steve Jobs