Conquering the “I’ll never be good enough” thoughts
A recovering perfectionist’s words on Imposter Syndrome
A lot of us run around thinking that we’re talented and hardworking. Strike that: we know it! We pound the pavement, take classes, stay up-to-date with current industry news and build up contacts like the yellow pages (is that still a thing?). And when we finally get a big opportunity, what do we do? We act like it’s no big deal because deep down, some of us sometimes feel like phonies. Like our achievements were just luck. Like no matter what we do, we’re “pretending” to be part of this industry. We ignore evidence that we are skilled, talented and successful.That feeling, my friends, is called Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Symdrome isn’t a mental illness
It’s very real and very icky. Imposter Syndrome isn’t a mental illness (thank goodness!), but it can still have some serious effects on us. These include stress, anxiety and depression. Oh, my!It can lead to drops in self-esteem and steer us to that old standby: compare-and-despair. We all know that nothing can make us feel much lower than comparing our “failures” to others’ successes. Talk about apples vs. oranges!But, those of you who, like me, have fallen prey to imposter Syndrome are not alone. Lots of heavy-hitters have talked about their struggles with it. Would you guess that THESE people sometimes feel less-than?!
· Emma Watson
Meryl Streep has felt Imposter Syndrome
So we’re in good company. What if I told you even Meryl Streep has felt Imposter Syndrome? In a 2002 interview with Ken Burns for USA Weekend, Streep said, “You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”I know what you’re thinking: How dare Meryl-freaking-Streep think that way? Well, I have a question for you: How dare YOU think that way about yourself?! You’re working hard and that deserves some acknowledgment. Heck, you should be celebrating that stuff! What would your biggest fan say if you got new headshots? How would a fan react if they knew you just booked a costar on an awesome series? If they knew you even snagged an audition for a costar? They would be celebrating every step KNOWING they were leading you to more opportunities. So, why is it so hard to be our own mega-fan?I think it’s because many of us were raised to believe that recognizing our accomplishments is prideful. And pride is “bad.” So, instead of feeling good and proud of our work, we make a massive effort to be humble. Humility definitely has its place in our lives, but it will not help propel us forward. Pride is our fuel!Pro tip: Pride is FINE! It’s arrogance you want to avoid.Pride is inclusive! Notice how a group of lions is called a Pride, not an Arrogance? It’s because they work together, not alone. Successful people acknowledge others’ contributions because it feels good to give their collaborators their due while celebrating our own wins.Feeling good is important for our lives. It’s actually a form of self-care to make sure you are acknowledging your achievements. And aren’t we ALWAYS looking for a form of self-care that won’t break the bank (or the waistline of our favorite pants)?Now that we’ve established what Imposter Syndrome is (it’s a bunch of lies we believe about ourselves to protect us from disappointment), and what it isn’t (the truth) you will be happy to know that there are many things you can do to combat it! Brace yourself. Some of these tactics depend on you asking for help. As a recovering perfectionist, I will tell you it can be difficult. But it is soooo worth it!
1. Safely share your feelings!
The person you choose to share with should be smart and trustworthy. You need to be able to have full confidence that they know what’s real and what’s not, and that they’ll help you see it, too.
2. Celebrate your wins!
Remember: even baby steps can be BIG accomplishments when you stack them all together. #doingISwinning
3. Ask friends and/or family to write down compliments about you.
You can make a book out of them, put them on slips of paper in a jar or even keep them in a notes app on your phone. Make sure you’re able to access them if you start to spiral.
4. Make an effort to change your self-talk.
If you trip and fall a lot, like me (what can I say? I have small feet), try saying, “Aren’t I just the most graceful?!” instead of saying you’re clumsy. I promise this small shift will make a difference!
5. Make an effort to accept that perfection is not realistic.
That’s right, we can never be perfect. And it’s not only us; nobody can be perfect!
6. Avoid all-or-nothing statements.
Nothing is all good or all bad in real life. Especially you and your achievements!One more thing about Imposter Syndrome…since so many of us feel it, be on the lookout for it in your friends and family. They may not be aware of it, so be gentle if you bring it up. In fact, you could start by writing compliments about them so they have them for a rainy day. You never know then you’ll be the one to help someone shake off that feeling of false incompetence. But, when it does happen, you’d better throw yourself a dance party in celebration!