Is anyone else out there unjustifiably hard on themselves? Welcome to the club. What’s your jacket size?
In all sincerity, stop that. I’m willing to bet that everything– well, maybe almost everything– you’ve thought negatively about yourself in your own internal monologue is just that: internal. I’ve never realized how much of my own insecurities can’t be seen by others. But I’m gonna go ahead and share some because why not? I hope it helps at least one person feel more sane.
So, I for real think I have imposter syndrome. I’ll save you the Wikipedia search.
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the imposter experience) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
I know that might sound ridiculous but hear me out. A lot of the times I really don’t think I deserve to be where I am even though logically I know that I work my ass off and really care about my career and more importantly, the specific job I have now and my clients. But the main thing I’m insecure about? My age. I feel like people look at me and question my competence because of my age. I’m younger than almost all of my coworkers and, like I said, some people may be reading this and thinking “Girl shut up about your youth” but it really is something I think about all the time and makes me really insecure and you don’t get to choose your insecurities.
But then it hit me. I recently was talking to a coworker who asked me how old I am and when I told her I’ll be 26 this month she admitted that she actually thought I was older. She didn’t think a damn thing of my age. She didn’t think I didn’t deserve my job because of my age. She didn’t think I was incompetent because of my age. It was my own internal issue. Now, I’m sure there are people out there that may think I’m incompetent because of my age, or really for whatever reason, BUT the moral of the story is this: Not everyone thinks that. It’s probably in your head.
Another thing I tend to do to myself: obsess over my “timeline”. I had an idea of where I thought I would be by 26 and surprise: I’m not quite there yet even despite the things I have done. I look around and see people that are also my age and we are all over the map– some, quite literally, are travelling the world while others are going back to school, graduating, getting engaged, some are newlyweds, and others have been married with kids for some time. Many are doing a few of these at the same time even.
In the age of social media this is not a new, radical concept, but you just CANNOT, CANNOT (one more time for the people in the back), CANNOT compare yourself to others. It could make you feel invalidated or unhappy for inane reasons. So I’m here to tell you that I get totally insecure when I open up Facebook, and if you feel that way too, well, let’s go get a cup of coffee or something.
Some people I graduated with are married and/or have the cutest little kiddos running around and I find myself getting a little upset that I’m not there yet. I look at their pictures and their statuses and to be real and frank, sometimes I get jealous. But then I realize how silly I’m being– I’m not even ready for those things, and I know this to be true. It’s so easy to get in your own head and lose sight of your own reality.
When my sister graduated high school, she decorated her graduation cap to say “enjoy the journey”. I loved it. It’s simple and, albeit cliché, it’s important. I mean, clichés are clichés because they’re true and used often. I wish I could remember more to enjoy the journey, tell my inner monologue to shut up, and never lose sight of my own reality. The truth is, this is going to happen in life. I’m going to lose sight of that. I’m going to compare myself to others and I’m bound to feel like I’m failing at adulting one way or another in the future; the way to make it happen less often, however, is to be aware of it and to be present enough to practice mindfulness and enjoy that journey for what it is.