Imposter syndrome is a funny thing—
I realized just how significant a role it’s played in my life when I finally started teaching. There are some things that just get really well highlighted, bolded, underlined, italicized, and any other emphasis you can imagine, when you have to stand up and teach 138 teenagers every day because they tend to very much not care about you or your feelings. That really brings up imposter syndrome.
But then, after I noticed myself feeling unfit and unworthy to teach and actually make a difference, I started thinking about when else I’ve felt that same way. And I realized, I also feel that way every time I write—always asking the question of, “What if I’m not genuine enough? What if I really don’t have anything good to say?”
It’s always in the areas I feel passionately about and called to—teaching, writing, fashion—what if my designs are too ridiculous? What if I don’t know what I’m talking about?
Well, what if I don’t?
Everyone starts out in anything new not knowing. Why does that have to make us feel like an imposter? Why do we suddenly feel like we don’t belong because we aren’t at the very top of everything?
There will always be someone who is above us, someone who seems like they have more authority—and there will always be someone who isn’t quite as far along, who feels the same about your authority as you do about the ones above you, always asking the question of, “Well, if I don’t have that level of experience or exposure, what right do I have to talk?” And we forget that at one point, the person speaking in a higher professional/experiential space was once where we are now.
We forget that progress cannot be made unless we start at the beginning because that is where we all start.
Being new doesn’t mean we are an imposter; it means we are new. That’s it.
But, once we have passed the newness, once we have reached higher into that space of authority in an area, many of us still tend to feel the same way we did when we started—that we have no right to speak or share or have any authority. And we forget that most of the time, everyone around us feels that way too.
We act as if feigning a lack of knowledge makes us more likeable—but if you know your stuff, if you good at your stuff, act like it. It is, in fact, ridiculous to pretend we have no grounds on which to offer our two cents.
We are worth so much more than second guessing our gifts and what we have to offer to those around us.
So let yourself be unapologetically radiant and excited about all the things you are passionate about. And don’t be afraid of being unqualified. You have to start somewhere, and that’s always at the beginning. You are not an imposter for beginning.