Remember when you were a kid and people would talk about their biggest fears? It would be things like spiders, or the dark, or in my case that one scene in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone where Voldemort is drinking unicorn blood. Isn’t it strange that those used to be the scariest things in our lives?
Ah, and we couldn’t wait to get older.
Adults still have fears of spiders or the dark or that scene from Harry Potter (seriously, I still have nightmares sometimes). But now we also have other, deeper fears. Things like, “Will I make enough money this month?” Or “Am I ever going to find love?” Or, one of my biggest fears, “What if I’m not good enough?”
I’ve written about this in the past, but I have a hard time jumping into something unless I know that I can be really great at it. And this way of thinking can be a double edged sword. Constantly trying to be really good means you’re constantly questioning if you are ever good enough. Always basing my worth off of my achievements means that if I’m not achieving I don’t feel worthy.
Recently I learned that a lot of the negative self talk and the doubts that swim around in my head have a name. Imposter syndrome. And I would venture a guess that I’m not the only person who has ever experienced it.
Now to bring in some backup for a formal definition. “Psychology Today” defines Imposter Syndrome as “a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.”
So basically, the “I’m not good enough” disorder.
Imposter Syndrome hit me really hard the other day. I had an audition for Universal Studios where they called in “strong ballet dancers.” Now, I have been working on my ballet and taking intermediate/advanced classes since I got to Florida. My first couple classes, I did feel a little like a fraud. But now, after a few months, I actually enjoy going. And my instructor is so supportive and we celebrate my victories together. I no longer feel out of place or like I shouldn’t be in the room during ballet.
Even when I can list out all these achievements and how far I have come, I still didn’t feel worthy of being at the audition. Like I hadn’t worked hard enough, and maybe I just got lucky that they didn’t look too closely at my resume when they invited me.
I was super nervous. I showed up and here are all these skinny, petite girls I had never seen before who already work as dancers all over Orlando who have been taking ballet since they were probably two years old. What am I doing here?? I can barely do a double pirouette and I have no idea what half of the ballet terms mean. Wow, I’m not good enough to be in this room.
So here we have a picture perfect example of Imposter Syndrome hitting me. Hard.
A part of me wanted to leave. A part of me was ready to be like “nope, they’re never going to hire me anyway, might as well just save them the trouble.” But I took a deep breath, and walked right into that audition, stood front and center, and learned a ballet combination.
And you know what? I nailed it. When it came time for me to dance for the casting director, I didn’t miss a step. Were all the steps performed with the precision of someone who has been dancing ballet since they were two? No. Because I haven’t been taking ballet since I was two. Were all the steps performed with a lot of energy and personality and confidence? Yes, I am proud to say they were.
Amanda: 1, Imposter Syndrome: 0.
Imposter Syndrome can really hit hard with performers and artists of any kind. We exist in careers where our livelihood is often based off someone else giving us a shot. And with so many people vying for the same jobs, you hear “no” so much more than you hear “yes.” When you’re constantly hearing that you’re not right for a job, it can translate to you feeling like you’re not good enough for the profession. And then when you finally do book something, you say it was all just luck or who you knew in the casting room, not your own talent.
Right now I’m describing the woes of actors, but they’re really the woes of everyone. In any career, it’s easy to compare yourself to others or wonder if you’re good enough at what you’re doing or question why you’ve been there for five years and still haven’t been promoted, etc. Wondering if we’re good enough and often feeling like we’re not are universal feelings.
And I know I’m just some millenial with a laptop, but let me be the person today who reminds you that you are good enough. You are worthy to take up space in the world. You make your office, your home, and your friendships better by being a part of them.
We live in a word where we are constantly told we aren’t good enough. They sell us beauty products because we aren’t pretty enough. They sell us newer phones because the last one wasn’t good enough. They sell us fancy material possessions, because being just the way we are isn’t good enough.
Well here’s a hint, stop buying.
The number one person who gets to decide if you are enough is you. So the next time you hear that little voice inside your head trying to convince you that you don’t deserve success, I challenge you to confront it.
“Hello, Imposter Syndrome. Nice to see you again. I know you’re here to try and tell me that I’m not worthy. To try and make me believe that the success I’m experiencing right now isn’t real and I don’t deserve it. I acknowledge that is your plan, but I also acknowledge that I have amazing things inside of me that are being recognized. I have the power to change the world and influence my surroundings. I am successful. I am enough. And I am worthy. Nothing you say or do, will ever keep me from believing in myself.”
You have great value to add to the world. Don't you forget it. Now, go and spread your magic.