3 Times I Had Imposter Syndrome and How I Fought Against It
Feeling like a fake, a fraud, or just totally inadequate? Doubting yourself, your capabilities, and your past accomplishments? Yeah, sounds familiar. It’s a good ol’ case of IMPOSTER SYNDROME! Doesn’t matter how confident, or experienced, or creative, or funny, or talented you are… none of us are immune to the negative self-deprecating thoughts that so easily creep into our brains.
I feel like imposter syndrome is the metaphorical cockroach of our internal dialogue. Doesn’t matter what you do, it’ll always be there; however, there are ways to manage it and keep it at bay.
DANG THAT WAS A GOOD METAPHOR! *Pats myself on back*
Since imposter syndrome is a good ol’ friend of mine that has paid me several visits over the years, I thought it may be helpful to share some specific times I battled it, and some of the tools that I’ve implemented to get through it.
Here are three major moments of mine where imposter syndrome made its presence very, very known:
My Entire SoulCycle Journey: from training to instructing
In 2015, I began to chase the dream of becoming a SoulCycle instructor despite having zero fitness instruction background, a fear of public speaking, and not even being that great of a rider. I auditioned for the first time in January 2016, and didn’t make it. I auditioned for the second time in April 2016, passed, and was accepted into the ten-week training program that started at the end of May. At the end of those ten weeks, guess what? I FAILED! You can read about that heartbreaking experience here. I picked myself back up, decided to redo the training program, and in December 2016, started teaching in NYC.
You would think after twenty weeks of training, I would know what I was doing. You would think I’d be able to walk into each studio every day with confidence. You would think that I would feel sure of myself. Well folks, if you thought any of those things… YOU ARE WRONG!
Most days, my heart would flutter before I taught. My thoughts would race as I intro’d myself to the class: Do they like me? Do they want to be here? Are they even listening? My hand would shake a little as I turned down the lights and turned up the music.
I constantly questioned my energy: “Everyone must see how nervous I am!”
I constantly questioned my ability: “Why would anyone want to come to my class when there are much more experienced instructors they could go to?”
I constantly thought that people picked up on even the tiniest mistake I made: “Oh gosh, everyone must have noticed when I kept everyone tapping it back for longer than I should have!”
As an instructor, I projected a lot of confidence on the outside, but on the inside, imposter syndrome thoughts were unavoidable.
Looking back on the year and a half that I taught, I can say with complete confidence that I was one hell of an instructor despite the doubt and the fear.
Teaching a “Brand Yourself for Instagram” Class
This past April, I was approached by the Aromatherapy Institute here in NYC to teach a class to their students about how to brand yourself for Instagram. For not one, not two, but for THREE hours. I knew this was an incredible opportunity for me to practice my mantra, “Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway”, so I said yes, but as I was preparing for the class a few days before it happened, I was filled with dread.
Yes, I am a full time Instagram influencer. Yes, some may consider me an expert at this platform. Yes, I’ve been on panels and podcasts, but SHIT, I have never taught any type of class before.
Who do I think I am getting up in front of a group of paying students thinking that I have any sort of knowledge to share?! Especially knowledge that spans over the course of three hours!
I was terrified. I didn’t want to let anyone down or waste anyone’s time.
I did the damn thing, and I have to say, I think I taught a really solid class despite the doubt and the fear.
Giving a 5 Minute Inspirational Talk in Times Square
In June, 2019, Aerie asked me to do a five minute talk on the topic of my choice at their Summer Solstice event in Times Square… in front of hundreds of people. I said yes, because I really do my best to say yes to things that are scary and that challenge me but are also things that help build my confidence.
As the event approached, thoughts raced through my mind:
Why did they pick me when they could have picked anyone else?
Will anyone care about what I have to say?
What if I completely forget everything once I get on stage?
I did a heckin’ good job, and I was so proud of myself despite the doubt and the fear. You can watch the full talk here.
So you’re probably wondering… how the heck did I not only say yes to these scary things, but also go through with these scary things, despite having thoughts of doubt and fear?
Well my friend, I’ve got some ANSWERS for ya! Here are the tools I use to fight back against imposter syndrome that I’ve learned over the years:
1. Recognize your feelings
This sounds simple, but sometimes even though we feel imposter syndrome settling into us, it’s hard to actually admit to ourselves what’s happening. Start to become more aware. You can even track when these thoughts enter your mind so you can begin to recognize patterns. Also if you label what you’re experiencing as imposter syndrome, you’ll remind yourself that just because you feel like an imposter doesn’t mean you are actually an imposter.
2. Talk to someone
We internalize so much. The more we keep inside, the more outlandish and overpowering our thoughts can get. Often times talking to someone else and expressing our feelings of fear of inadequacy can begin to lift a weight off our shoulders. A friend, family member, colleague, or mentor can help you can feel less alone and also remind you why you are very much capable.
About to attempt something that scares you? Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and visualize the future experience that’s about to happen. Imagine yourself giving the speech, doing the interview, teaching the class… whatever it is! Visualize yourself confident, poised, and kicking ass. Our thoughts are a powerful thing. Learn how to start harnessing them in a way that works for you.
4. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Growing up, I was always envious of other students who could cram the night before a test and just sorta BS the whole exam and still get a decent grade. I have never been that way. I always need time to properly prepare thoroughly so that I don’t feel stressed or rushed, and so that I feel confident. Teaching a SoulCycle class? I’ve prepped the playlist and planned the choreography. Giving a five minute speech? I’ve written the speech and practiced out loud many times. Big interview? I’ve researched the company, done mock interviews with friends, and have my resume printed and ready to go. The more prepared you are, the more you can squash feelings of being a “fake” or “fraud”.
5. Reframe your thoughts
It’s ok to be nervous, scared, or anxious
Everyone is a beginner at some point, and that even experts doubt themselves
You don’t have to know every single thing in order to do a good job
Learning and making mistakes is part of the process
Just because you FEEL like an imposter, doesn’t mean you ARE an imposter.
What’s your favorite tip that you’re going to put into practice? Do you have any additional advice that’s helped you get past feelings of imposter syndrome? Share em below!