Everybody struggles with their sense of identity at some point in their life. We idolise others, search for perfection outside ourselves, and let our envy get the best of us.
It’s great to draw inspiration from those we admire, but where do you draw the line?
If you find yourself jumping from obsession to obsession or trying to force an image that is just not you onto those you’re close to, you may find your sense of identity becoming even more muddled and frustrating.
When I was in secondary school, I had a new identity I was trying to peddle every day, and it devastated me when no one believed it. I hated being told to ‘be myself’ because I didn’t know what that meant. I had zero self confidence because I didn’t have any sense of self in the first place.
When I was researching for this post, I came across this definition of imposter syndrome and really love it.
“The imposter syndrome is a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” – Psychology Today
It’s when you have a story in your head about why you’ve achieved what you have and you validate it externally instead of attributing it to yourself. It’s like there’s a main external reason you’re winning and it’s not you. Example: getting into college because you were on a sports scholarship so really it wasn’t because you were smart enough. Or running a business “full time” but really it’s because your husband financially supported you.
Imposter syndrome is really the feeling of either 1) self doubt, 2) inadequacy, 3) fear, or 4) shame.
It’s always based in self doubt.
It’s believing you don’t deserve what you have created.
It’s feeling afraid the other shoe is going to drop.
It’s not allowing yourself to be present with what you’ve created.
It’s pushing away something good. It’s immediately anticipating it leaving.
It’s falsely believing you’re unworthy. Your worth is 100%. You just have a low opinion of yourself and that’s totally optional to you.
I would say the first step to curing Imposter Syndrome, and finding out how to ‘be yourself’, is to stop caring what other people think.
1. Don't Look At Yourself Through Other People's Eyes
This happened for me shortly after I left school and started spending more time by myself. I’m not saying that isolating yourself from everyone (especially not the people you care about) is a good idea, but you should be putting more energy into just enjoying the time you have on your own. Be as comfortable as possible; do whatever your heart desires. It will help you to find a clearer sense of what you like to feel and do better than when you’re around other people. That brings us to step two.
2. Embrace Your Strengths
Everybody has something they’re good at, some niche, a word that will always be a go-to adjective to describe themselves.
Most people might say ‘creative’, ‘intelligent’, ‘compassionate’, etc. The trick is to pick words that reflect who you are, not who you wish you were. So even though I would really like to define myself as ‘successful’, I’m going to go with ‘playful’. And if you’re having trouble coming up with a word, for whatever reason, here’s one for every single one of you (ironically enough): unique.
Side Note: There are no variations or levels of the word ‘unique’. You cannot say that something is more unique than something else. The word itself means ‘one of a kind’.
3. Idolise Yourself
Think of all the attributes your fake persona would have.
You know, that person you pretend to be or wish you were. Are they a totally independent badass a la Lisbeth Salander? Or maybe you wish you were pretty, bubbly, and popular like Elle Woods.
It doesn’t matter what it is.
Usually, the people you idolise (fictional or not) resemble some part of you, that’s where the attraction comes from.
So if you find yourself bouncing between lots of idols and identities, focus on what you like about them and where to find those attributes within yourself. Instead of dying your hair or dressing like said person, look at their other characteristics (not the physical ones like demeanor and looks).
If someone seems really cool and independent, focus on becoming more independent in your own life and embracing the ways you already are. Learn to idolise yourself!
A Final Thought
As long as your goal is bigger than your current life, you’re going to feel inadequate because if you already felt adequate, you’d already have the result.
Practice overcoming imposter syndrome by following the steps above. At each level of growth and success you’ll need to do this.
It’s 100% always worth it.
I hope you have found the above educational. Please feel free to contact me and I’ll leave you with that.