I’m sure you’ve heard of and most likely experienced imposter syndrome. Over the last few years I’ve had a couple of big imposter syndrome moments, but they are also moments that have defined and changed my life.
I think back to a quote I recently read on my Traditional Medicinal tea tag that said “If you want to enjoy the rose, you have to put up with the thorns” In my opinion, if you want to try new things and grow… you have to put up with imposter syndrome.
When I first started to teach yoga, I use to get so nervous before class, often feeling like I wanted to throw up. One day my life coach at the time suggested I ‘turn down the spotlight’ that I felt was shining very brightly at me. Essentially, she was saying that people aren’t paying as close attention as you think they are. And I know from being a yoga student longer than I’ve been a teacher, that is very true. We are more often listening to the voices in our heads than the voice of the teacher! That idea, along with the fact that I just kept showing up to teach, helped the imposter syndrome soften (I don’t think it every fully goes away).
The second major case of IP that I’ve experienced in recent years was when I went back into the tech world as a project manager. I had been away from that world for 5 years when a former colleague of mine contacted me one day to see if I was interested in covering for her while she went on maternity leave. As a bit of an aside, this was also an example of the universe listening and doors opening up as I had just said to my husband Roger, a few months before that I was going to take a break from teaching yoga and do something else. I didn’t know what that else was at the time but along came this opportunity.
I was so happy to give project management a try again but holy moly…take about imposter syndrome. I thought for sure I was going to be called out for not knowing what I was doing, from not remembering how to use MS Projects to following SDLC processes… I figured at some point I was going to get tapped on the shoulder and asked to leave. But I kept showing up, doing my best (and lots of google searches) and of course eventually that imposter syndrome softened again.
These two recent experiences have me convinced of a few things:
- When you start something new you are going to feel like an imposter.
- The only way to get over it is to go through it. You have to keep showing up. There is no quick or easy solution.
- You know more than you think you do.
- People aren’t looking at you as closely as you think they are.
- The feeling never totally goes away but confidence and experience are antidotes of sorts.
- If you want to learn and grow and try something new, you need to accept that you will feel like an imposter at the beginning.
- My very unscientific belief is that it takes at least 2 years to feel confident doing something new.
So here I go again… I’m working on a Feng Shui certification program and plan to offer Feng Shui consultations. I hope to combine it with my yoga training to offer something interesting. I have no idea what that looks like yet but one thing I do know for sure is that imposter syndrome will be along for the ride starting out.
As I mentioned above, the only way forward is through, there is no going around. I use to say this a lot to new yoga teachers I met. So to use a hiking analogy… I’m once again geared up and ready to take a hike through the scary imposter syndrome forest. Hopefully though, I have a backpack full of tools and knowledge to help make the forest a little less daunting. I’m determined to come out the other side!