If you’ve ever tuned into the personal growth space or the small-business/start-up ecosystem you’ll hear people say something about feeling like an imposter, or not being deserving of what they have or have accomplished.
The official term being ‘imposter syndrome.’
It’s quite interesting actually. Anyone who feels this way says all the same things. Up until the last few years, I’ve been so arrogant to a degree, I haven’t even realized this should be something that was affecting me as well.
Maybe arrogant isn’t the correct term. Ignorant for sure.
I haven’t accomplished something on my own to the extent that I feel like I’ve been graced with something undeserving. Everything I’ve accomplished was done so by completing all the required steps. Doing the work. Above that, there have been people that helped me meet those accomplishments. Nothing I’ve done has been a result of me and me only. So all seemed right.
Yet now, I too feel like I’m living someone else’s life. That I am in a lucid dream capable of steering events in my favor but bound to wake up at any moment. I have felt this way for probably the last 5 years. It’s become more apparent to me that I’m in a position that I don’t feel I deserve.
It is such an odd feeling
I’ve found myself in certain positions of authority almost completely by accident if not undeserving. Somewhat of a subject matter expert without seeking such a title.
If it was ignorance previously then the only way to combat this feeling is with a dash of arrogance but more importantly, gratitude.
That’s really the only way to come to terms with it all.
On the shoulders of giants
Rather they know it or not, I’ve had some excellent mentors, sponsors, leaders, bosses, and colleagues. I’m going to try to do better about letting them know.
For instance after a bumpy start to the post-graduate life and full-time employment, the whole first year really, I was given a great opportunity. That opportunity at the time I took begrudgingly based on current information through my own lens. How I got there could not have been any more my own doing and determination but still in someone else’s control. Possibly a bit more on that in a later post. However, the opportunity was granted to me based on a single phrase, as I understand it, and how that phrase was interpreted by the ultimate decision-maker.
The question was something along the lines of “how did you go about leaving your previous organization,” and my response summed up was, “We still keep in touch.” Meaning I didn’t just leave them high-and-dry, but I’m available for however long is needed to answer questions and help with anything I was working on as I was leaving.
….hired. I know there was a bit more to it than that, but that was a key factor. Big enough for those individuals to take a chance on me.
That opportunity gave me some great experience and a lot of lessons learned. There was grace and a lot of second chances. I’m grateful for that.
Following that was another opportunity provided through a close connection and as a result of my current work. Someone willing to stick their neck out for me. Which lasted a very short time until I found myself in another peculiar situation. Simply by asking a few questions. In short order, I became a team lead surrounded by people so much more talented than me. Doing work I really enjoyed. Again in a position asking myself how the hell did I get here.
That role lasted a few years until I got where I am now. Yet again through some odd series of events, I’m going to be surrounded by people with way more knowledge than me and provided an amazing opportunity to learn, grow, and build my craft.
The odd series of events and how I got to considering a new position is too long for this post. I’m more than willing to share that information with you later if you’re interested.
However, a major component of it all was just being ‘out there.’ Even in the worst sense of the term. My shitty podcast, my failed attempt at co-hosting a podcast, all of my terrible blog posts, and my presence on LinkedIn.
I never pursued my last few opportunities. Somehow they came to me. This is why I don’t feel deserving of any of them.
Last week on the way to pick up the kids from daycare, I found myself reflecting on a phone conversation I had earlier that day. It just all seems so surreal. This opportunity I’ve been given. There’s no doubt that I didn’t get here without help, but nonetheless, I pinch myself and it is me who’s here.
Everything to this point was leading somewhere. I was part of that.
Everything I experience going forward, good or bad, is leading somewhere. I will be part of that — making sure I’m doing the work to hold up my end of the bargain.
As crazy as it may be. As hard as that may be. I have to find a way to remind myself that ‘I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.’
You’re not a fraud. You’ve done what you need to do to be right where you are.