Finding Value in Myself and Others:: Tackling Imposter Syndrome

Finding Value in Myself and Others:: Tackling Imposter Syndrome

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

As a kid, I shrank at this question. My chest would tighten; I knew what was coming next.

Grown ups love asking this question, but typically, the answers invoke one of two reactions::

A verbal pat-on-the-head {“You must be so smart!”}

Or

“That’s nice, dear, but what will you do for money?”

I’m curious why more people aren’t talking about Imposter Syndrome; from childhood, we’re asked what we want to be, but then warned about the perils of our ideas.

Doctor? Too many years of college.

Teacher? Low salary.

Race car driver? Too dangerous!

We tell children they can be anything they put their mind to- as long as it isn’t too. Too hard, too crazy, or too expensive. 

What’s a kid to do?

Finding Value in Myself and Others:: Tackling Imposter Syndrome

IMPOSTER IN A NEW WORLD

Confidence and self-assurance have never been my defining qualities. By the time I donned my first cap and gown, I no longer viewed writing as a career option. I was embarrassed to admit I wanted to publish. 

“Pity,” I thought. I would find the time to write one day but for now, I had a family to support. 

I spent a few good years in education before I realized that to pursue writing, I would need to make a change. I dove in, head-first, and supplemented my income with a brand new industry. I had little experience in home sales; feeling like an imposter became my new normal.

I dressed better; I went to the office more. I had to wear closed-toed shoes {or have a pedicure}. I had to look the part to feel the part. 

Even as my skill set and confidence increased, I was a stranger in a strange world. An imposter monster. 

What if this all falls through? Will I ever feel like a professional?

Finding Value in Myself and Others:: Tackling Imposter Syndrome

FROM FAKE TO BONA FIDE

It wasn’t until I started a new career that I realized I was suffering from more than self-doubt. Title work, teaching, hospitality, management, I have experience in multiple industries and felt like a fraud in all of them. 

Working in a sales-driven industry was a far cry from the noble undertaking of teaching today’s youth. I wasn’t sure I fit in or that my new choices reflected who I want to be.

One comment from a client would change my whole perspective. 

“Thank you for helping me, I wouldn’t have known what to do without you!” she said. In that moment, I realized she was speaking the truth, but I had to remind myself constantly before it really sank in.

Help. It’s a great word. Asking for help turns a misunderstanding into solution-seeking, hard work into an act of kindness, a sale into a favor. 

It sounds simple but being thanked for my work was key to an about-face. I had never placed value on myself in that way before and I had always seen sales as self-serving. 

Modern society isn’t great at assigning value. We over-value material objects and under-value the people who make them for us.

Seeing the value I could bring to others changed my “job” into a passion. I was transformed from a paper-pusher and door-opener to a problem-solving, miracle-making extraordinaire.

As a bonus, I now see more value in everyone else, too.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome does not mean an abundance of self-confidence, but having just enough confidence to know that I can help.

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