Jeremy and I have had countless conversations surrounding imposter syndrome. Clearly stated in my opinion, imposter syndrome is pretending to be someone you're not. While this would generally portray a negative connotation, I would like to share my thoughts on what it means to me.
While some really struggle to pull themselves together, accomplish what they know they need and want to do for the day and then when asked, "how are you doing", they reply with a fake smile, "I'm good, how are you?", I don't believe this is the norm for most people. I truly believe that while it might seem "fake" in how they respond, maybe that's their way of looking past the struggle, embracing the imperfections and weaknesses that they possess and leaning into a better attitude......
When I was at college, it was common as you would pass someone to ask, "hey, how you doing?" and the response that EVERYONE gave was, "good, how are you?" It was second nature to respond that way to the stranger and the friend. But why?
I think it was that we didn't want to take the time to really say how we were doing, didn't know how we were doing, didn't trust the person with our feelings, or really had the blank, "I'm just going to class" brain. Again, I think this was the effort of myself and probably others to be better, or at least act better than we actually were.
Is there anything wrong with this? YES and NO! Yes because you could really be struggling and feel that others don't care and that drives you in your pit of sorrow even further. Yes because it teaches you not to deal with the struggle. No because it encourages you to be optimistic, push against the hard and succeed mentally, physically or spiritually.
I believe Imposter Syndrome can be broken down into a few categories of excellence and success.
Faking it until you Make it
This is a common phrase but one that should be reshaped to hold a positive meaning. One of my favorite examples is running half marathons. There would be photographers along the way, usually positioned perfectly when you felt like you were going to poop your pants, cry or stop to walk. And yet, there I was with that FAKE smile to capture on the camera so that I could laugh later knowing that smile was fake. However, pushing through the discomfort of running 13 miles and my legs feeling like jello, gave courage to others to continue as well.
And the truth is, every time I faked that I was doing okay on my race, it gave me the strength to keep pushing forward. I kept telling myself that I won't die and that I would make it. Although I didn't know it until I crossed the finish line (even after completing my 10th race), faking it until I made it helped me press forward. This is a form of positive imposter syndrome.
Taking on others personalities
While I believe that we were sent to Earth with a clean slate of attitude, opinions and dispositions, there are tendencies that we all possess based off of our surroundings. While I grew up being discouraged to share my opinion because I was a little too blunt, I kept doing it anyways. I was quickly drawn to those who would say things like it is, sugar coat the truth and not beat around the bush, for it really doesn't do anyone any good to do that. I have looked to podcast mentors, friends, church General Authorities and work associates who portray this way of conveying messages and have further investigated how I can be my opinionated self, but more kind and more of a leader as I see these people.
While I don't feel that my personality has changed, I have learned how to say the same things with a different tone, different look on my face and different setting to appropriately lead and share my thoughts. Having someone or a group of people you admire and learning how to be more like them, when you notice its a positive set of traits, will only help you become your best self. This is a form of positive imposter syndrome.
Smile with your Eyes, Find Joy in the Circumstance
A weakness of mine has always been that I have an RBF, yes it's a terrible accronym for someone who looks like they're mad. I have been told by friends who trust that I won't lash out at them from a supposed face that I portray. It is super hurtful for me to hear because I know that I'm not feeling the way that my face looks. Its more of a contemplative look for me, but it doesn't work for people. I'm learning more how to smile with my eyes to portray my inward feelings.
While smiling with our mouths isn't always necessary and sometimes not appropriate in certain situations, smiling with our eyes portrays a sense of peace and joy that we are all promised as we focus on gratitude and thanksgiving. Consciously putting on this type of smile will bring more hope, light and gratitude in your life, even amidst the hardest trials, battles of personal weaknesses or life not turning out the way you envisioned. This is positive imposter syndrome.
We need to reframe how being an imposter looks like to us. Are we posting fake smiling pictures of a happy life on social media to show off to others? Are we showing up with a smile on our face everywhere to hide the pain in our hearts? Are we serving people just to be noticed? Are the children clean, well behaved and dressed so no one notices the messy house and chaotic lifestyle we lead?
OR....Is this who you really are?
Don't let someone tell you that you're being fake. Don't let someone tell you that you're intimidating because you portray perfection. Don't let someone tell you to lower your standards of trying your best.
And DON"T LET SOMEONE TELL YOU THAT YOU CAN'T CHANGE!!!
IF you don't like who you are, who you're becoming, or where your life is headed, there's time to change! Try some of these "Imposter Syndrome" tips to help you become your best!
Take care of you so you can take care of them. Take care of you so you can enjoy them. Take care of you so you can be your best!