Impostor Syndrome. It’s one of the buzz phrases of our time.
The idea is hardly something new. People have always had insecurities, but the way we talk about it today has changed like somehow we are less because we feel insecure.
Like most people, Impostor Syndrome is frequently on my mind. I’m constantly asking myself, “Do I give my family all they deserve? Is my work of high quality? Am I a successful adult? Is my writing any good?”
Earlier today, I read a moving story on the subject by Jessica Hillis, Oh, Hello Imposter Syndrome. In her article, she asked a lot of the same questions. At 37, (she shared her age, so I’m not giving anything away) Jessica is wondering what she will do with her life when she grows up.
Good news, Jessica, I’m 47 and still don’t know. Even better, my mom is in her mid-70s, and she still feels the same way.
Are we three unique people out of eight billion? I doubt it.
What About the Experts?
All the online talk about internal insecurities has me wondering, does anyone really have it all together? Is there anyone who genuinely feels successful? What about the leaders in business or best-selling authors? How do the influencers with millions of followers feel?
It’s easy to look at successful individuals like Elon Musk or James Patterson and think, “If anyone feels secure in themselves, it has to be them.”
I have to wonder, though, how they really feel. In the middle of the night, when those crazy insecurities come calling on all of us, what do they think about? Do they still wonder if they’ll ever get it together?
I don’t know Musk or Patterson, but based on my human experience, I believe they feel exactly like the rest of us. They may be less likely to own up to it, but the feelings are still there.
One of my closest friends is in her mid-90’s. She is full of wisdom and life-lesson stories. I’m never disappointed when I take the time to visit her.
When we get together, we laugh and talk about the craziness in the world. We reminisce about some of our favorite memories. She tells me about the world that existed decades before I came to be, and I share stories of today’s woes of dealing with social media and technology.
It never fails, at some point in our conversation, we will turn to things we’re working to improve. Though legally blind, she reads daily by using audiobooks. She is still trying to better herself.
After nearly a century of life, she told me just the other day, “I don’t think I’ll ever get it all together.”
Yep, sweetheart, you’re not alone.
So, What Do We Do?
My favorite part of Jessica’s story is where she says,
As of now, I’m writing, so I am a writer. Good enough. — Jessica Hillis
That brief thought carries a world of wisdom. If none of us truly feels like we know what we’re doing, then the only option is to keep going. Learn what you can. Practice your art. Keep showing up.
If we will never overcome Impostor Syndrome, then let’s stop thinking about it. Let’s have the attitude, “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m going to keep doing it, anyway.”
After all, what’s the other option? To do nothing? No, of course not. Life has to go on, and so must we.
Thank You, Jessica
I want to thank you, Jessica, for your story. It made me think and inspired me to sit still for a minute and write. Yes, you may feel like an impostor. Yes, you may feel you have no clue what you’re doing. But, you know what? You’re doing it, and even better than that, you’re teaching us as you go.
Do you feel like an impostor? Congratulations! You’re a human. Own it. Accept it. Then let’s get to moving forward, stumble if we have to, but keep trying to improve.
Who knows, maybe at some point we’ll reach the point where we all feel like we’ve figured it out. Maybe we’ll wake up one day and know we are good parents and writers and employees.
It’s more likely that the feeling will never go away. If that’s the case, let’s at least try to have some fun along the way.
If you haven’t already, make sure you take a minute to read Jessica’s story.
Scott Ninneman is a bookkeeper and tax preparer by day and a writer by night. He maintains the blog Speaking Bipolar and writes about living with bipolar disorder and chronic illness. He also enjoys writing short stories, poetry, and inspiration for personal development. His interests include reading, cooking, and entirely too much TV.