Imposter Syndrome. Again.

Imposter syndrome got a hold on me like a boa constrictor. Because of course it does. It's 2018, the beginning of a new year, and I've got plans. Major plans. Huge plans. Major. Huge. Plans.  A few months ago, in late 2017, I did what I always do (and probably what the rest of the universe does) — evaluate the year for personal gains and triumphs, failures and learning moments and, I set a course for some personal goals to achieve in new year. Because I'm a dream chaser. One of these days I'll get there, but I'm not too worried about it because it is all in the climb.

But what I am worried about is this imposter syndrome that always seems to grip me whenever I'm on the precipice of doing something really awesome for myself, or taking a huge leap. Like this certification class coming up in a couple weeks that I can't believe I was accepted into. Or like the collaboration that I'm moments away from pitching. I'm pretty good at mustering up my twenty seconds of insane couerage, twenty seconds of embarrassing bravery. But, who am I to be doing this stuff? Making these leaps?

It's taken me forty one years to recognize that imposter syndrome is itself an imposter. It is fear. Fear all dressed up in a fancy black dress and ready for some recklessness.

I now realize that this particular type of fear, this imposter syndrome, for me, is rooted in a fear of success. I know that might sound crazy to some, but I've only come to this realization after some years of constant personal reflection and reading and research and I realize that all of that is rooted in my childhood. My childhood successes were never successes. They were never celebrated. They were turned into failures and used as tools for comparison.

Childhood self: I made third chair clarinet!
Reply: Why not first? Who got first chair?

And so I never knew what success looked like. What it felt like. And because I don’t know it, I fear it. (At least that's my self-diagnosis anyway.)

There’s a certain motivational quote that pops up in my feed every now and again that I’m haunted by:


I mean, seriously... What happens then? I think I'd REALLY feel like an imposter then!

The bigger question is, am I going to reach out to create this collaboration opportunity? Or am I going to give in to old unhealthy patterns that don’t serve me? Like judging myself, and then eliminating myself before any one else can. To be continued…