Do you ever have moments when you feel like a fraud and think you’ll be found out? You’re not really that good? Everyone will discover the truth and it will all come falling down? They think you know more than you do? Other people who do the same thing you do are better than you will ever be? You’re a fraud and it’s only a matter of time before everyone finds this out? They will laugh at you and think you are an idiot? Does any of this feel familiar to you? Maybe it doesn’t happen all of the time. Maybe it’s just when you’re taking a risk or trying something out of your comfort zone. Maybe it comes on the heels of criticism. But however it comes, there’s something you need to know:
Those are lies you tell yourself. And many people do this exact same thing even when they are doing the very things that you admire and look up to.
Years ago, when I was working in television, I came into the office early one morning and one of the executive producer-level writers on the TV show I was working on was there too because he had pulled an all-nighter. He looked rough — unshaven, tired. He told me something that shocked me — he felt like he was a fraud and he was one bad script away from being found out. At the time, I was a Writer’s Assistant and this shocked me. He was doing everything I dreamt of, top of his game, and he still didn’t feel good enough. I was sure that if I could just write one produced episode of television, I would feel validated as a writer. And then I did. But when my first ‘written by’ credit aired on TV for all to see, I discovered his truth — I still felt like a fraud, just like he did.
This theme comes up with my clients often. Clients often bring it to me like a deep dark secret — the truth is that they are not good enough and everybody is about to find this out. No, no, no. That is not the truth. That’s the lie. You lie to yourself because you’re terrified. You’re terrified that you’re not good enough. Well guess what — you wouldn’t have this opportunity if you weren’t. You made it happen. You are not a fraud. It might be hard, but you rise. That’s how you got here and that’s how you stay there.
I know this storyline so very well and I help my clients navigate their own Impostor Syndrome when it comes up. And now as I prepare to publish my first book, I am feeling all of this deeply and intensely. Impostor Syndrome is real, ladies and gentlemen. It is so very real.
And I the therapist who helps people soothe their own Impostor Syndrome is also the Impostor understanding the lie and yet perpetuating it within myself. See, I’m a total fraud… a therapist who can’t help herself with the very things she helps her clients with… a flawed, broken human. And a liar, to myself at least… just like some of you.
Try not to believe the lies. I’m trying too.