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What is imposter syndrome and what to do if you have it.

Imposter syndrome is defined in the Webster Dictionary as ‘a psychological condition characterized by persistent doubt concerning one's abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one's ongoing success’.

How many of us feel it? That persistent doubt. How many of us think we don’t measure up? Who wakes up in the morning convinced they eventually will be found out? The irony of which is that most of us think we are alone in that cesspool. I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t considered it at one point or another.

While reading up on imposter syndrome and pondering about my own, I found out that Maya Angelou said “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” Lady Gaga has to remind herself on a daily basis that she is a superstar. Jodie Foster used to believe someone would knock on her door any day and tell her that there was a mistake and her Oscar should have gone to Meryl Streep, while Meryl Streep said she feared people would eventually find out she can’t act.

Why do we feel undeserving of our skills, achievements, talents? Why do we doubt ourselves and are afraid to be found out as frauds? Obviously, I can’t speak for all, merely for myself. In my case, I didn’t earn a degree in photography. I studied it alone. Hard. Loved it fully. I stubbed my way around to it. I read and researched, I tried, got frustrated, and failed. I faked it (poorly) until I made it. And that still feels odd to write. I am a perfectionist, but I also have an abysmal lack of confidence. Basic neurotic artist, according to any therapy textbook. The good news is, it is no curse, nor is it incurable.

I still have a little impostor syndrome… It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.” Do you know who said that? Michelle Obama. So if Mrs. O., Meryl Streep and Lady Gaga can't shake it off but still move on to stratospheric levels of success, we should all be able to make better use of our mental space. We all, at one point or another, question our place in the universe. How does it serve us? I’m going to go ahead and say it might give us a mild sense of modesty and occasionally keep us grounded. Otherwise, crazy idea here but hear me out, how about we drop it? How about we stop thinking we're not good enough. From this point forth, we shall focus on striving forward, accepting our failures and imperfections as stepping stones towards bettering ourselves, and wiggling into our deserved beautiful space.

I showed you mine, tell me about yours!

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