me, the imposter

Posted on: January 23rd, 2012

I haven’t written for awhile. And thank you to those of you who have asked if I’m ok. Yep – I’m fine. Just a crapload of writing deadlines in the last week. Deadlines, presentations, all good things but converging at once.

That’s part of the story. But not the whole thing.

Here’s the other part: I really questioned if I have anything of value to say. 

And here’s why: I read a really good article online, written by a mother of 3 young children – a woman who blogs every day. AND IT WAS REALLY, REALLY GOOD. Like I mean really good.

So good that it made me really question what the heck I think I’m doing. Why am I blogging? What’s the purpose? How come I only have 2 young kids and can’t write a kick-butt post like that one?

I have these 2 creatures on my shoulders. Are they on your shoulders too?

That gremlin on one side whispering slyly,

“Who do you think you are? 
You’re not good enough.
SO MANY PEOPLE are BETTER than YOU.”

And that encouraging coach on the other side shouting,

“You can do it!
Try something new!
Stretch yourself!
Believe!”

But even though that coach is shouting right in my ear, I let that whisper overwhelm me sometimes. Like last week. That gremlin won. He said,

“You don’t have one single unique thought that’s worth writing or blogging about. There are so many writers who are so much better than you. WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE???”

My husband and I led a workshop on Saturday. As we were driving there in the morning, I said to him, “Do you ever feel like you’re an imposter? Like you really don’t know what the heck you’re talking about? And someone’s going to find out? What do we have to say to all of these people who have so much more wisdom than we do? WHO DO WE THINK WE ARE??”

I compare myself to others (like this mom blogger) and I get jealous and feel unworthy. I feel like a fraud. And I hate those yucky things inside of me: comparing myself to others, judging myself, and feeling jealous. But they’re definitely there. There are some blogs I don’t even look at anymore because they make me feel jealous and inadequate.

And I know this Marianne Williamson quote. I’ve had it posted in my room for years.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I know this. Of course I do. But some weeks I have big doubts. And I believe the line I tell myself that at best, I’ll be mediocre. That I’m just an imposter.

33 Responses

  1. rachel says:

    Rebecca – I feel tears in my eyes right now because I feel the same way some days. I could be doing SO MUCH MORE in my job, as a mom, as a wife and as a friend.
    Please don’t ever question whether your blogging is important. I think it is. There isn’t enough honesty in the world. You are so refreshingly honest, sincere, and insightful.

    “And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

    By putting yourself out there, you give other people permission to do things outside of their comfort zones too.
    I feel like an imposter too, sometimes. I think people feel that way when they try something new and they aren’t sure how they will be recieved. I think feeling like an imposter sometimes is good, because that means you are stretching yourself.
    I truly love reading your blog, Rebecca – Keep it up!

  2. Sherri Grosz says:

    We all know those feelings of doubt and the difficulty in shedding them. I love reading your blog and I love your honesty – you give us permission to ask ourselves the hard questions and to know that we are not alone with our struggles and frustrations.

    Keep on keeping on Rebecca!

    (and I heard glorious things about your workshop Saturday! Friends let me know I had missed an inspiring event.)

  3. kristen b. says:

    i’ve said it before, and i’ll say it again; i love your honesty! and also the fact that you’re willing to put it out there.

    now, i must say that every day last week i would check your blog and wonder, ‘have i missed something? where is she?!’ today when i saw there was a post i literally breathed a sigh of relief. i wondered why i felt so relieved that you were “back”. and i’ve realized that i use your daily posts as somewhat of a devotional. i have never liked devotions. i always get motivated to do them and then get bored, forget, or give up. but your posts are inspiring and enrich my faith. i think i now like “doing devotions”.

    to me, you are not an imposter :) so please. keep writing.

    p.s. i have had to stop looking at a certain blog of a mom who has a baby my daughter’s age. i keep seeing these fun activities and creative things she is doing with her baby and it makes me feel like a boring, inadequate mother! you’re not alone in feeling jealous :)

  4. Anonymous says:

    Rebecca. I NEED your morning blog in my inbox. It has never been trivial or worthless. I want to echo Rachel’s quote over and over. Keep liberating others, Bulinda.

  5. Linda Frey says:

    It is okay to have feelings of inadequacy – these feelings can push us into a phase in which we want to review ourselves and our feelings, It helps move us forward to a better place. We need your blog. I have told you before that you wake up my soul. Yes, your blogging is somewhat like a meditation, somewhat like a devotional time. Thank you again. your aunt Linda

  6. shauna says:

    Rebecca! I must say I have been checking your blog this past week and was excited tonight to find a new entry. I was asking your sister about you because I was a tad worried though also knew you had some writing in the works. Thanks for your honesty today. I had those two individuals sitting on my shoulders today too. Also – what do you want this blog to be? a place to express, connect with others, – can this also be done without words when words feel far away? With a photo or song or quote. I love reading your blog but also don’t want you to feel pressured by it either. Does this make any sense? Good night, friend :) Sleep tight – Oh the quote you have on your wall is the same quote that you gave me at my mother blessing gathering – love it and think/re read it often. So thanks for that too. Okay – goodnight for real :)

  7. Beth says:

    Oh my goodness…we have so much to talk about over tea. I get this post. My digital sabbath over the last month was about rest and recovery but it was also because of the gremlins. I started my blog because I wanted a space to play, to write and to inspire…but after I launched it, the fear set in and I really question a lot of things about it…I really feel the tension of being full of possibility and letting myself be Enough, of taking risks and giving myself a break, of having a bright voice and having nothing new or clever to say under the sun, of deeply valuing connection&telling our stories and longing for scarcity and privacy. I am trying to sort out what is fear and what is truth. I’ve been asking myself…are my creative projects fun for me? are they life-giving? Why do I feel inadequate? Do they provide an important context for facing my gremlins?
    Keep sifting and sorting Rebecca – and may beautiful things manifest out of your willingness to face the gremlins and tuck that measuring stick of comparison away. When I read your writing I encounter inspiration, kinship and authenticity and it’s beautiful and so valuable. Also…warning…reading Brene Brown often stirs up all kinds of wonderful, deep, scary, hard, beautiful soul work! Happy Tuesday to you.

    • Rebecca says:

      Beth – yes, we must meet sometime! What you’ve said here really resonates with me. Thanks for your encouragement – and your warning about Brene Brown! :)

  8. Catherine says:

    Thank you for your brave voice! I get this on so many levels. I understand too well the measuring of my worth by what others are creating and sharing. I have also banned myself from visiting some blogs for the very reason that I leave knowing I can’t achieve the same results. The one thought that does come to mind and directs how I blog – create this space for yourself. If it documents your life and creates a memory that your family can return to in years to come – this is enough.

    And I love that Beth has found you!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for voicing this, I completely understand. Sometimes for me the whispering gremlins shout. It is very difficult to ignore them or at least to tell them to be quiet. They don’t listen very well at all. Keep working at putting them in there place. I very much enjoy reading your blog. Your reflections are wonderful and things that you’ve written have inspired change for me (and that ‘just 5 minutes’ trick works like a charm!). Thanks for your honesty!
    Karen

  10. Mara says:

    Oh, Rebecca, I so, so, so, so “get” this! After working as a translator for over 12 years, several publications to my name, a Master’s Degree and blah, blah, blah, I STILL wonder when everyone’s going to wake up and realize that I’m a fake. That I don’t really know what the heck I’m doing, that I’ve been riding the horseshoe-up-my-butt wave for the past decade… It is so reassuring to see someone as bright and creative as you feeling that way too. But on the other hand, you are not the only bright and creative woman I know who feels like an impostor. I’ve met several others, in fact so many others that it has made me wonder why all these women feel this way. Why do we worry we have nothing to share, to contribute? Why do we so often apologize for ourselves? I love your quote, it’s one of my favourites, and frequently I have to call it up again and remind myself that is it my duty to let my light shine. We DO have things to contribute to this world – these baby steps, these small contributions are what all come together to make it a better place. Imagine what a world this would be if all women dared to let their lights shine? :-)

    • Rebecca says:

      Mara, thanks for this – love the horseshoe-up-butt image!! Is it a woman thing? Didn’t think of that before. Yes – we DO have things to contribute, we need to just get over ourselves sometimes…

  11. Wow, Rebecca, my yoga teacher read this quote out loud last week at the end of class, and I wanted to come home and blog about. But I forgot until your post triggered the memory.

    I think it’s okay to feel these things. Totally normal, part of being human. Sit with the feeling–sit through the feeling–and it goes away. Or maybe it pushes you somewhere unexpected, like your Aunt Linda wrote in a comment above. It doesn’t have to be a bad thing. Maybe there was nothing you wanted to say out loud last week. And now you’re ready again …

    …to write more wonderful, warm posts like this one.

  12. Margo says:

    Just found this post through Carrie. Thanks for your honesty. One of my reactions to feelings like this is to ignore it and act as if it’s not true (I used to be a high school teacher and I faked confidence ALL the time!). I know this is not popular psychology, but if I pay attention to this feeling too much, I obsess and get derailed. That’s my personality – to brood, dwell, and get stuck in this junk.

    I sometimes think I need to post a banner at the top of my blog that reminds my readers that it’s my personal little happy space focused on my successful thrifty projects. I process my interior junk with my closest friends, not blogland. . . which can give the false impression that I’m always cheerful and working hard. ha.

    Well, I do love blogland for the way it makes me ponder things. .. thanks again for your frankness.

    • Rebecca says:

      Margo – great to meet you here! I’ve been looking around your yummy blog, and you’re inspiring me to change up my menu for this coming week! I know what you mean about posting that banner. I struggle with how much to let “leak” onto my blog – thanks for your words here.

  13. Can’t help but notice that all (I think) of the comments so far are by women. Re: Mara’s comment, and Rebecca’s reply… I thought maybe I’d post links to these two articles… The first one talking about whether-it-is and why-it-is that women in particular may struggle with this (http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/200907/the-imposter-syndrome), and the second is a short Wikipedia entry, which says that “The impostor syndrome was once thought to be particularly common among women who are successful in their given careers, but has since been shown to occur for an equal number of men.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome).

    Keep up the good work, you imposter you!

    :)

    Bryan

    • Rebecca says:

      You’re right about the women being the only posters (?) so far. And I’ve been thinking this week about some men I know who feel like imposters/impostors (see?? I even feel like an imposter writing that word – which is the “right” spellling? am I doing it wrong? But I’m pretty sure, though my quick research, that there are 2 ways of spelling it…) I have a feeling that when you put yourself out there creatively, some feelings of “imposterness” quickly follow. But that’s just a hunch. Maybe there are some super confident writers/poets/musicians/artists out there.

      I’m looking forward to taking a look at the articles you posted. Thanks!

  14. I mostly have women commenting on my blog, too. I think it’s a reflection of my readership.

  15. Mara says:

    Rebecca, this is the article that got me thinking about the women angle, particularly the amazing quote “Women hold up half of the sky”. It’s not exactly the same topic as your post, but it’s absolutely fascinating reading.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/23/magazine/23Women-t.html?pagewanted=all

  16. Kaitlyn says:

    Rebecca – I’ve been following your blog for a while and I love your words and thoughts. I’ve been in transition and so missed this one, but I wanted you to know (although you’ve been told this many times already) that you are not alone. I wrote a blog much like this one in september, (http://jantzis-in-rumbek.blogspot.com/2011/09/ponds-and-forests-knowledge-and-power.html) it hurts to tell the truth but it is so powerful. May you hear the words of encouragement being told to you.

    many blessings.

    (p.s. this is kaitlyn nafziger – you were once my teacher about an eon ago – I stumbled on your blog while doing MCC in sudan – it has been a good encouragement and reminder of good and thoughtful people in the region to which we have returned. thanks!)

  17. Rebecca says:

    Kaitlyn! So good to hear from you! I loved your post – thank you. And thanks for the words of encouragement too – I can never hear too many of those! I’d love to get together with you soon. :)

  18. Kaitlyn says:

    It would be fun to get together! I just saw Darren Kropf last night and he told me about your meeting on the weekend – definitely exciting stuff. I see you like the starbucks – I am also a fan. perhaps some day we could drink hot beverages together. my email address is knafziger@gmail.com.

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