Do You Sometimes Feel Like an Impostor?
There is a term I first heard fairly recently that explains a lot and sends chills down my spine. The term is “impostor syndrome.” Of course, once I heard John Lee Dumas talk about it, I heard everyone talking about it. Which is how most things go in life.
My first reaction was my usual first reaction. I get a bit skeptical. Is this another catch-all term they are going to call a condition and then assign some drug to? But the more I learned about it, the more I realized it is just a way of thinking. And since thoughts create our reality, I began to think about impostor syndrome more.
So what is it? It is that feeling you get when all eyes are on you. You think for a split second or for a few minutes or sometimes for hours, “who the heck am I to be presenting this information and why should these people listen to me?” I get it, you get it – Even the President of the United States gets it. And while we all get this feeling, we cannot let it hold us back. We cannot give in to it because, let’s be real, it can destroy us.
While we only have to know a little bit more than the people we are presenting to, coaching, talking to, whatever, to be the expert, we often wonder if the little, lot, or intense amount more we know is enough. And that wondering can make us go terribly wrong. The slight fear in us creates a fire in our bellies to be better, to learn more, and to give more. Beyond that, we make ourselves stuck and we go down a cold, dark path.
So how do you get around it? Well the obvious is keep learning. Your brain can handle a lot. So keep feeding it. I remember my neighbor, Ruth Gonzalez. She was in her 90’s when she passed away. She read every day and she did the New York Times crossword puzzle every day. She said that is what kept her mind sharp. I believe that. The woman spoke several languages, continued to teach us (myself and her granddaughter, my childhood BFF) until the end.
Another helpful hint to get through impostor syndrome is another new term I learned. This time in church. I pay attention! The term is Pronoia. A term so new, Word just put a squiggle under it and told me I must mean paranoia. No, pronoia is the opposite of paranoia. If “para” means you believe everyone is out to get you, “pro” is the concept you should embrace. Pronoia means (fill in your comfortable word here____) people, God, the universe, life is here to help you and propel you forward. When something doesn’t go your way, pronoia is opening your eyes to something better that life has in store for you.
So what does pronoia have to do with impostor syndrome? I believe impostor syndrome can become a reminder that pronoia is on your side. Impostor syndrome can become the brief hesitation that keeps you from getting too cocky. Impostor syndrome can remind you to stop, breath and know that the concept of pronoia – all things working for your good, is right there. Don’t ever let impostor syndrome stop you from going after your dreams, from helping someone, from doing what you know you are meant to do. Because even if it goes not the way you intended, pronoia kicks in and brings you to something better. If you let it.