"You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserve your love and affection"~Buddha
When I was in graduate school, I was invited to interview at a prestigious Feminist Multicultural Internship site that allowed only 4 students into their training program per year. When the call for my interview came, I was in shock, so much so that I did not answer the phone. I didn't call the Internship Coordinator back!
My multicultural counseling professor and mentor found out that I had not returned the internship coordinator's call and pulled me aside one day after class. She had, after all, written a letter of recommendation for me to attend this internship site, and was confused as to why I hadn't followed through; my avoidant behavior was uncharacteristic of me.
My professor was the first person to introduce me to the concept of feeling like an "Imposter."
"Candice," she said quite resolutely, "You are not an imposter." She then explained what Imposter Syndrome entails.
Imposter Syndrome, also called Fraud Syndrome, was first used by psychologists in the 1970s to describe individuals who could not internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their accomplishments, individuals with this syndrome believe they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome).
I never knew there was a "syndrome" that described how I felt all these years! I had struggled to accept all of my hard work, dedication, and perseverance that had gotten me to this very moment. "Who am I?" I thought (like so many times before), "Who am I to think I deserve this amazing opportunity?"
The staff that interviewed me at the internship site shared that my letters of recommendation were so "stellar" that they "had to meet" me. That same day they offered me an internship with them. I was floored. Who are they talking about? I thought.
However, I decided to put my fear of being a fraud aside and embrace this opportunity. I feel truly blessed that I did as it was the beginning of many transformative experiences in both my career and my life.
Like me, so many incredibly intuitive, bright, dynamic, and creative individuals walk around feeling like they are an imposter. They question every success they have had, wondering if they will somehow be "found out" that they are not good enough, not capable of...; a fraud.
So many people hold onto old, outdated beliefs, often from childhood, that they are unworthy of having success; unworthy of a beautiful life.
Many individuals with Imposter Syndrome feel like they are not capable of living a life free of suffering. If they have a success, it is nearly impossible for them to accept that they truly earned it based on their own merits. Internalizing their worth seems like an impossible feat.
The most impactful part of my internship experience was learning and witnessing in myself, along with hearing from others that even then, I was the Real Deal.
Granted it has taken years upon years for me to allow this statement to fully sink in, and only until recently have I been able to completely understand and embrace being The Real Deal.
(Funny, as I just wrote the last statement, I had a twinge of fear of the Imposter. Even now she creeps in.... so subtle, reminding me that she is still here if I want to go back into my box and play small.)
Indeed, the mask that a person with Imposter Syndrome wears is thick, heavy, weighed down by years of guilt and shame at not measuring up to real or fictional parental expectations, to the exceptions of friends, to the expectations of educators; to anyone. Even though these are often the perfectionistic kids that appear to do well in all areas of their lives, they push themselves so hard and with an incredibly unforgiving eye. Sadly, they often can't see their worth. They are blind to it.
I realize, after years of struggling with this, that it can take quite some time to embrace our raw authenticity and vulnerability.
The statement "I am the Real Deal" applies to anyone who has endured years of feeling like an imposter. Anyone who has felt like your accomplishments are a sham, that you don't deserve your successes in life. You too are the REAL DEAL. That may be hard to say, swallow, or even let sink in, but let yourself say it because it is true.
What I am continuing to learn is that there is something really quite beautiful in the messiness of our raw existence; our raw and vulnerable perfect imperfection. It is beautiful.
If you can identify with having Imposter Syndrome, ask yourself, "Is it working for me to continue to feel like an imposter? To hide behind my true genius?" Who does that really benefit?
What would it look like, more importantly, what would it feel like, to rid yourself of the Imposter Syndrome and allow your brilliant self to shine? How would it be to embrace the authentic, powerful you who is THE REAL DEAL?
Today is a new day; a beautiful opportunity to cradle the authentic YOU in your arms. You are worth loving. You are worth embracing who you truly are! Let love in and let the Imposter Syndrome go.
Now is the time.
With love dear friends~
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