Imposter Syndrome, and claiming your identity. Do you know who you are?
Have you ever done something and then afterward felt a hesitation to identify yourself by whatever activity you have just done? Have you ever shied away from titles because you felt like maybe in some way, shape, or form you don’t deserve that title?
As I mentioned in a previous post I have long thought of myself (and claimed myself for that matter) as a runner. I have never had an issue saying very matter-of-factly, “I Am A Runner.” However, I know this is not a similar experience for most people. Sometimes we think of ourselves as imposters in certain spaces where we may think we don’t live up to the standards of how we idealize a certain title.
What is Imposter Syndrome
Psychology Today defines Imposter Syndrome as:
“People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think—and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them. Those with imposter syndrome are often well accomplished; they may hold high office or have numerous academic degrees.https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/imposter-syndrome
In many professional fields, titles are gained through education, evaluation, or practice. However, in some cases, even folks who have been through the rigors of these gatekeeping ideas still don’t feel worthy of titles. Yes, there is a nature in which to be able to claim a title you must be able to do the said practice. I cannot be a doctor, no matter how much I am able to “google” certain maladies I may (or may not) have. However, I have done all the work to have earned the title of Reverend (though I prefer pastor that is just because I am informal haha). I have also done the work to be called a runner, and many others who feel hesitant to claim the title have as well.
Note: I use “runner”/“running” as an example because it is one that I often hear, being heavily involved in the running community. However, Imposter Syndrome can translate into many fields.
When I encounter runners who may be hesitant to claim said title of description I often retort back to folks (in a kind empathetic tone knowing they are comparing themselves to other “runners”):
“did you just move by the use of a series of single leg jumps that propelled you forward?”
It seems silly when said like that, but that is literally the definition of running, and in my mind, if you do that, you are a runner. In the competitive walking sphere, you must always maintain contact with the ground or you will receive a penalty. Therefore, they are “walking” by the definition of the sport. However, in running, it is any pace at which you are doing those “single leg jumps,” meaning there is a point when you have no contact with the ground.
I love the look on folks’ faces when they feel affirmed no matter how slow they think they go (which we should really get rid of “slow” from our vocabulary).
For me, it is honing in on this feeling of Imposter Syndrome that many of us carry with us whenever we enter a space. We create and concoct reasons that we don’t fit in or that we shouldn’t claim who we are. Yes, I may not be the smartest, the fastest, or the best, but I am. I am a runner, a pastor, a father, a husband, and a reader. I don’t do it as well as others, but I try my best, and isn’t that part of what matters?
We become so hesitant to claim who we are sometimes because we fear the judgment that might take place when we claim the title. Though I encourage us to take on the mentality of recognizing the work we do and proudly claim who we are. Not only do we realize who we are, but we take pride in it as well.
Imposter Syndrome is a very real psychological and mental barrier in our lives, and I am not trying to mitigate any of these. I hope to add to the dialogue of self-worth and self-care as we gain a greater understanding of who we indeed are. We do not wholly care for ourselves if we are allowing judgments of others to distort the work we have done. Therefore, for all who need to hear it— YOU ARE A RUNNER…(or insert that title you are afraid to claim yet which you have done the work to earn).
Would love to hear your thoughts:
Have you ever felt Imposter Syndrome in your life or vocation?
What affirmations have you used to help in your efforts of overcoming this feeling?