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by • January 14, 2014 • Life As I Know ItComments (2)2190

My Superhuman Might: Kryptonite and Imposter Syndrome

Thanks to Chris Conzen sparking this post (and for helping me rediscover an old favourite tune).

Back in February 2013, Chris published this post about struggles with self confidence and its intimate relationship with vulnerability, authenticity and weakness. I’ve been mulling over the post for a while now, and coupled with my current reading of Brene Brown’s Daring Greatly¬†it was about time I put something down on (digital) paper.

Chris and Brene both rather¬†articulately¬†outline personal and professional moments of perceived weakness, feeling unable or unwilling to “show up” (as Brene says) or confronting powerful emotions of your own triggered by someone else’s challenges (as Chris discussed).

Reflecting on confidence, weakness, and vulnerability, my mind continues to circle back to a term I first learned in graduate school that has stuck with me and continues to colour many areas of my life. Impostor Syndrome.

One ‘cure’, as it were, for impostor syndrome seems to be validation. To substantiate or confirm (thanks dictionary.com) seems to lessen the heady impact of feeling less than by confirming that what is, is as good as what could be. It’s being fine right now, in this moment. It’s saying there is enough, you are enough, and enough is good.

Humans, however, don’t often like enough. Enough isn’t our best yet, or our best ever. Enough allows weakness to seep through cracks in our emotional armour, and enough seems to imply that there will be no more. We are naturally and maddeningly attracted to progress and perfection, a doubly potent recipe for addiction as we continually strive toward something that, in my mind, we can never achieve. We perpetuate an odd cycle of validation – wanting to be ‘enough’ now yet always striving to be ‘more’ mere moments later.

How do we stop this cycle? When do we get off the universe’s roller coaster? Can we ever lay down our armour long enough to show up and be present with who we are, right now?

I’ve come to learn that enough is not a static state. Confidence and inner strength are not fixed qualities but are very much moving targets. These ends can downplay and utterly ignore the beautiful means by which we navigate through this adventure called life. Enough, then, is a process, not a product. It is enough that we try, every day. It is enough that we keep going. It is even enough when we pause, step back, or step out. It is not perpetual motion that defines us, but purposeful movement. Note that I never said this movement must always be forward. Yes, forward is the direction we crave, but backward, up, down, sideways or simply bending in the breeze are all enough too.

Enough is a willingness to go and to stop, to move and to be still. It is embracing the process, and never chasing the impossible goal of ‘best’. Enough is truly where you are right now.

 

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2 Responses to My Superhuman Might: Kryptonite and Imposter Syndrome

  1. ericakthompson says:

    I’m learning to tell myself that I’m enough and not wait for external validation. I can really identify with the struggle you’ve shared. I’m learning to choose my own path, be careful not to judge my journey against someone else’s, and be proud of myself. I still like sharing my proud moments and getting that extra “way to go!” though…

  2. lmendersby says:

    I don’t think we can give up, ignore, or put down external validation. It feels good and, given that we’re innately social creatures, it can help to build a positive and supportive community. I wouldn’t want to get away with external validation, but I think we can get better at how much value we place on it and how often we look for it. I struggle with when and how we can start believing that external validation … internally.

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