Blog Article

Impostor Syndrome

Published: September 17, 2019

So over the past 15ish years I have struggled to share publicly and one of the reasons excuses I have learned about was Impostor Syndrome. (If you haven't heard about it before, watch the incomparable Sorelle Amore discuss it: I mean that cinematography and content is so powerful...amazing!)

Be authentic.

Thats it! It finally clicked for me maybe a year ago...but Sorelle describes it much more succinctly than I can...which is one of the parts that I struggle with in sharing (read the anecdote at the bottom about 1 reason that contributed to my impostor syndrome). I even had a hard time posting this blog. I rewrote it about half a dozen times and cut out a bunch of stories :)

I used to get really nervous about speaking at conferences but after a couple dozen, it got easy I understood how it flowed when I was authentic. I read a great quote from someone who said the best TEDtalks are not the one where people scripted out the best dialogue, they are the ones where people had a few points of stories they were going to tell and told them. Just be yourself, let your passion come through and you will be authentic and hence not an impostor!

The reason I wrote this post is not to elicit emotions from others, but to relay that the only person who can make you feel like an impostor is yourself!

[As an aside: I love the tip that Kim Pollishuke and Jen Giffen talked about on the awesome Shukes&Giff podcast (Give it a go!) about watching Youtube videos at 2x speed!]

[anecdote warning='Personal anecdote coming up. Stop reading and come back tomorrow to avoid it';]

I am verbose in conversation and text, I love to talk (which is one reason I became a teacher, the other reasons are too long for hear and would be a blog post in itself) and can go on and on. That is why it was is hard for me to blog...the feeling that I am not fully communicating what I want to share. Actually, and more deeply, it is the idea that what I have to say no one really wants to listen to.

I have done a lot of work in this area, with journaling, meditation, reflection, conversations with people, and many other people who support me in life (like my amazing wife Deanna and daughter Mele). Part of this stems from where I grew up: West Virginia. If you are some of the international people out there and only know of West Virginia through the John Denver song (which incidentally was written in Maryland and mistakenly thought it was the rest of my family who still live in/near WV will be cursing me for that blasphemy :), WV ranks as the best or near best in the nation for lots of highest obesity rates for adults, highest poverty rate, and most un-educated... all the things you don't want to be known for.

Because of these factors, I always say it is a great place to be from.

OK...I am getting around to it...despite all of those things, I had an OK education experience and a pretty happy childhood and a great family life. I grew up in a small, rural college town and people are generally really nice. The thing that I identified with though was that need to be more than, that being good locally was never enough, that I needed to think on a greater scale. These were not ideas that were drilled into me directly though, I think I just absorbed them subconsciously.

I think it all boils down to 1 point. West Virginia is the only state that has a directional prefix that doesn't have a complimentary state. For example, there is a North Dakota and a South Dakota, North Carolina & South Carolina, West Virginia & East Virginia. Truly by definition, if it needs additional clarification it is the inferior one. I still encounter people who think I am from Virginia totally ignoring the West part...there is no greater pet peeve I have than if you asked me how my trip to visit my family in Virginia went.

There is a lot more that I have resolved from that time and the more I travel and discuss experiences with others, the more I expose or peel back parts of the hurt in my soul that needs some loving.

I get that lots of people have varied experiences or obstacles that they need to overcome. Mine was all about perception, just the thought that I wasn't valuable enough to share my ideas and now I know that is not true...but it did take me something like 40 years to realize that.

Thanks for reading to the end!