I'm the problem. It's me.
As part of my ever growing job of spreading my message to help others, I need to be out and talk to people. If you know me, you know this is generally not a problem. Making friends in unique places is what I'm known for. Metro Stations, parking garages, lines in Target are really just some of the more recent areas. No surprise, especially to my family.
But Networking is a whole different ballgame. Now, these are usually my people. They work hard, are people I aspire to be like and we all support each other. There isn't competition. There is room for everyone. But it's different. I'm not only representing myself, but my message I want to spread. To instill confidence and my genuine side. All easy things, trust me!
So I attended an event this past week and it was wonderful. I made some great contacts and in ways that I didn't expect. But what I didn't expect was the impostor syndrome I felt later. Someone's comment, completely benign, comparing me to someone else in their life, shook me. Hello doubts. You've arrived in my head.
As a normally outwardly confident person, my insides are generally screaming at me. A lot of prep work goes into being able to get out of the car to meet people I don't know. "What if I…" is often in my head. Insert some dumb worry that you can do in front of a group of strangers and I am sure it went through my head. I'm only human. And trust me, the worries of "will I sound stupid" are full front and center.
Almost a week later, the impostor is still sitting on my shoulder repeating those words I heard. And the words were not terrible! That's the interesting thing! It was a way to connect as humans do! So why did it shake me???
I looked it up. Up to 82% of people face these negative feelings from time to time. So my feelings are completely common. That means it can affect anyone! Feelings don't care if you're a teen or adult. While doing some reading to reset my mind, blog after blog said this happens commonly to people who are high-achieving. The harder thing here is that the doubt is so overwhelming that we don't realize it's a passing moment and not actually our abilities!
Self-doubt…inadequacy…. my acquaintance didn't put this in my head. I did.
Why does imposter syndrome show up? Well, you have a few tendencies for it to appear if:
You're a perfectionist. If you set extremely high standards for yourself and find that you're overly critical of your work, you create more pressure and self doubt on yourself.
Fear failure. Do you worry about failure? Do you think a failure proves that you're not capable or adequate in your work? Don't forget about your own accomplishments here. Different, yes, but not a failure.
Compare yourself to others. Ever feel like you don't measure up? Your friend/neighbor/family is better at things than you are? Hey buddy, did you forget about your work?
Need some recognition. Ever get an "A" on a test and when you told your parents, they barely acknowledged it? They were busy at the time and you didn't actually realize it? It sucked. And you probably walked away wondering why you put so much time and energy into studying. This made you feel unrecognized or undervalued. The problem was timing, not the achievement.
A week later, some of these resonated with me while others didn't. How did I shake this off?
Be Present. Stop worrying about what already happened. Do a 5-senses check in. Think about something you see, smell, hear, taste and touch. Spend a full minute on each.
Acknowledge your accomplishments. Jot down a weekly list of things you've done and you're proud of. As I vulnerably write this, I'm proud that I've dusted myself off and I keep going. It's not a business win, but it is certainly something that I am pleased didn't stop me from moving forward.
Share your feelings. Do a group of people reading my blog count? Yes? Ok, I can check that off. But in all seriousness, find someone you trust to share your feelings. Sometimes just saying it out loud will help you from holding on to it.
Take care of yourself! Hello self-care. I feel like self-care is something you're encouraged to do daily because of the stress levels in our society now. But it's that critical. If you can't care for yourself, how are you going to care for others, put your best foot forward or even make dinner tonight?
It's ok to need to shake off things that have happened. Not every moment is perfect. My mentor always used not everything is sunshine and rainbows! Although, there are days I'd like it to be!
Bottom line, don't be so hard on yourself. Don't spend time comparing yourself to others. At the end of the day, just trying your best, even when the outcome isn't what you wanted, is still ok! We learn every day!
"I have not failed 10,000 times. I've successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work." -Thomas Edison