All This While It Was The Imposter Syndrome.
I told myself I wouldn’t post this. I told myself I wasn’t good enough. What’s the point, I’m not aggressive enough to be noticed. But the idea wouldn’t leave my mind. Every time I’d feel I wasn’t good enough,I would think about how I was not churning out ideas the way I used to because I was constantly feeling that I wasn’t good enough. Go figure! As if on cue, Neil Gaiman’s (how much I love this man!) opinion about this feeling made it’s way to my timeline. And that is how I got started on this piece on the Imposter Syndrome.
I started reading a lot more about it, and realised stories of Imposter Syndrome worked better than “10 Signs That Prove You Have Imposter Syndrome” and “10 Ways To Deal With Imposter Syndrome” to help me feel better. What I am going to rant about here is a personal account. So I don’t know if I can help change your life, but I know for sure that I can make you feel good about being you. If you feel this way too, let me tell you that we’re in this together :)
It’s been a couple of months since I’ve noticed that I’ve been feeling this way. “You’re not good at it. Stop it” is what goes through my head every time I’m about to ship out my ideas. From getting to work on an idea in a day, I’ve started to take weeks to reach out and make sense of what’s going on in my head. Even when I do manage to ship something out, all that I’m thinking about is, “But people will find out you’re not good enough you sure you want to post that?” It took me a while to understand that this did not stem from any comparison. It was an internal struggle. I would constantly feel that I was fooling people into choosing to adopt a fit way of life. Sounds stupid, I know right?
It all started from the time I read troll messages and found out what people who I considered “friends” had to say about me. I would have worked on it had it been constructive feedback, but it was simple baseless trolling. I soon learnt to ignore the trolls because I truly believe that if there is any feeling that should be reserved for them, it should be one of pity. Anyway, the trolls got me doubting what I was otherwise doing great with. And it all spiraled into this stupid “I am not good enough” behaviour, which now had nothing to do with trolls. It wasn’t internet validation I was seeking anymore, none of it mattered. Because I just wasn’t good enough.
Today I receive (on an avg) 10 messages daily about personal transformation stories that I have inspired. I make it a point to reply to all those messages once every week, but I can’t get myself to share these beautiful stories on my profiles because I feel I never did a thing, it all came from within. I fooled people into believing they’re amazing, and it changed their lives.
Ridiculous, I know right?
The other day I messaged my baby sister — “you’re so hard working, I am so proud of you. You work hard, do new things, experiment with jobs and are not afraid to fail. Look at me, all that I do is workout and write. I need to do more things. What am I doing with my life?” I wish I could explain how I felt when I sent this.
For the longest time I have dealt with this pressure of being absolutely right about what I was posting, so much so that I did not give myself the freedom to fail. “My squat form needs to be perfect or else I can’t post this” Why yes, that is true, but I can educate people and share my knowledge and feelings with people through a caption too! I can point out how my form is incorrect, and that I am trying every day. But there are 2 problems with this —
- I feel I’m being snooty.
- “How does this make me different than anyone else, it’s about squatting 50kgs anyone can do that you’re not good enough”
But of course logic doesn’t matter here, I will end up analyzing how I am not good enough to post this video, and miss out on a golden opportunity to change a life.
When do I feel this way? — A personal analysis
Quoting an article from the New York Times — “ Well, we often hesitate to believe that what’s natural, maybe even easy for us, can offer any value to the world. In fact, the very act of being really good at something can lead us to discount its value. But after spending a lot of time fine-tuning our ability, isn’t it sort of the point for our skill to look and feel natural?”
I feel like an “imposter” when I’m way too concerned about myself. “If something is wrong, they will troll me!I am not an expert, I can’t talk about this. All that I did was lift 50kgs, what’s the big deal?” There are times when I genuinely want to reach out to people to help them, but that is almost always met with a “you’re no expert, they’re going to hate you for butting in” Ouch.
While I’m feeling too important about myself, I’m making myself feel worthless. See what I did there? I’m so busy feeling self important, I think I matter. Then comes the crippling doubt “what am I even doing with my life? All that I do is exercise, and I write about it. Anyone can do that” We’re great at undervaluing ourselves, and I seem to be a pro at it.
This pressure of being an “expert” is ruining things. In my head, I’ve assumed everyone is looking up to me as an expert, and I am supposed to know everything about what I’m doing. Then I go into the same old “but wait, who’s even reading this, ah you’re not important enough” cycle. Here’s the thing — I cannot bullshit my way into people’s hearts, and I say what I CAN say. Over the years people have realised this, and I’ve noticed they respect what I do. They understand that I don’t know everything about “fitness” but whenever I learn something new, they will too. Which is why I love the fitness community, we all empower each other. Once in a while we encounter those know-it-alls who will enforce their way of thinking upon you, but we take them out,just like those weeds during spring cleaning :)
There are some people who will make you feel worthless (I didn’t believe this happened IRL, but the audacity of some people is commendable) The other day someone quizzed me on geography because I love travel, and to them I am just another person who wants to travel to talk about it. I pointed him out (subtly, in a dignified manner) to some of my writing, he didn’t know what hit him. Someone the other day left a comment upon one of my Instagram posts, talking about wrong posture. I took some time out to address this by sending them links to informative posts about what they thought was untrue. Fortunately this one was a nice human being who sent back a thank you note. Someone instead of calling out to me decided to make a lengthy post about their (incorrect)interpretation of one of my posts, I left a public comment justifying myself. But how many of these can one keep doing till they reach a point of no-return? There are times when it gets overwhelming, and you’re thrown into this dark ditch where you can’t see why you need to be part of the world above you.
How do I deal with it?
I wrote earlier how this has nothing to do with “comparing” myself to someone else. While that is true, it’s only human to look at someone else and say “Damn, she got lucky.” Fortunately I have been logical enough to know that each person is presented with a set of opportunities, and their choices decide their fate. While some are comfortable being taken care of, some of us like to charge ahead and take control of the situation. What’s the point in hating someone for loving their own goddamn life? In the last couple of months I have made a conscious decision to stay away from those who only complain about how their lives are not #goals compared to someone else’s. Life is too short to not celebrate your own, right?
If you’re still reading this, I want to tell you just one thing-STOP COMPARING YOURSELF TO THAT PERSON! You’re not here to live someone else’s experience, you’re here to be you.
Someone told me “Treat your art as your business.” I realised that I tend to get personal, and forget that I am reaching out to people who are out of my friend circle too. There’s greater good to be done, and I shouldn’t stop trying.
Another thing that has helped people, something that I am trying to do too- taking those emails and messages to make a folder, reading them when I’m feeling low, reading all about the lives I am changing, thanking them for being my greatest supporters (so far, so good)
Someone once told me “stop undervaluing yourself” This statement finally makes sense to me. The best businessmen have made wrong business decisions. The greatest orators have fumbled on stage. The best basketball players have missed shots. The best football teams have lost. Losing is part of the game, embrace the freedom of failure.
If you want to go out there and expose your vulnerability to the enemy, you’re no fraud. You’re a hero.
Before I end this, I want you to look back on the last 3 years and see how much you’ve changed. Opinions change with information, attitudes change with knowledge, isn’t that the beauty of learning new things? So why do you feel you’re never good enough, when all that you’re doing is trying the best to be you?
This is probably the first time I’ve been so vulnerable while writing something that is all about me. I am sure there are many who feel this way, but we do not talk about it. Reading about such stories made me feel better, and I am sharing this with the hope that it contributes to at least one person’s life.
As far as posting updates is concerned, I haven’t had someone who’s made fun of me (not at least to my face) and the inspirational messages are far more in number than the ones from the trolls. So guess what? I am going to take a deep breath, and continue posting updates from my fitness journey.
Leaving you with what helped me talk about this-
If you wish to read more, here’s something from American Psychological Association.
BRB, need to learn how to process this.