How I'm overcoming "the imposter syndrome" in my recovery
Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one's accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud." Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved.
As women, we see this in ourselves more often than men - but it doesn't mean that men are immune to it - in fact 70% of the population experiences this feeling of just being lucky rather then having the skill it takes to get that promotion or raise or any other accomplishment.
In my career, I can't even begin to tell you how many times I have felt it - that feeling of them discovering that I could be "a fraud" and it will all come crashing down on me. Even recently, I've felt that feeling of "not belonging." Even as a mother - I think of it all the time. I'm a proud supporter of "faking it 'til you make it." If you "play the part" long enough - eventually your thoughts will catch up. I truly believe that.
But when I started feeling that "fraud" feeling in my recovery - I couldn't necessarily, "fake it 'til I made it.
There isn't a list of responsibilities and tasks to do when you leave the hospital as a survivor of anything. No boxes to check. No handbook. No formal review process where you are given your official "Survivor" title.
In fact, when I came home from the hospital, everyone that I spoke to told me how "brave" I was, how "strong," I was. That I was "superwoman." And that I was "so inspiring.
When I was told this, I immediately panicked. "Oh crap!!No! I'm misleading you. There's no way I can be inspiring! Ah these poor people. I'm a fake!!How can these nice people think such great things about me, don't they know that I literally laid on a table while the doctors did all the work! I didn't do anything out of the ordinary."
So I mentioned these thoughts to my dad and he told me, that after I had survived the surgery that doctors didn't know I would survive he began to thank the doctors, as one those after they save your daughter's life. But one of the doctors said to him, "we didn't do anything. She did it all. She fought to survive.
It honestly hadn't crossed my mind that I fought to survive. Despite, seeing my dear friend who passed away a few months prior (yes! I saw her. I don't know when it actually was - but I saw her) and telling her, "I'm not ready to go. I have to stay for Bryce." Despite that - I didn't feel like I did anything.
And I would love to say that, I bounced out of my chair and did the power pose and everything changed - but at this time, I could barely make it to my bed by myself. So the power pose was out of the question. But I did begin to do things differently.
Sharing is caring
I began to share my story publicly. And this was HUGE leap of faith for me. I have never felt comfortable with being vulnerable especially so publicly (yes - honestly). I don't like people feeling pity for me. Before this - I hadn't even mentioned that I was a single mom. I mean the people in my life obviously knew, and if you followed me before the rupture on social media, you kind of figured. But saying it carried this bit of shame that is attached to the phrase "single mom."In sharing my story, I found freedom. I clearly remember feeling a weight lifted from my shoulders the moment I typed "a single mom who at 34 had an aneurysm rupture . . . "into my bio. It was truly liberating.
Despite being surrounded by amazing friends and family, this can be a super depressive and lonely thing to go through - but suddenly, I wasn't alone anymore. By sharing my story so openly and so authentically, it opened my world open and my extended community became these great people who knew what it was like. They shared my struggles, my anxiety, my fears, my deficits And even my happiness. All of it. They know.
At some point, I decided to embrace it. I'm not exactly sure when this decision took place. I don't think it was conscious decision - but at some point, I decided (I know you have all seen the Instagram quote); God didn't bring me this far to ONLY bring me THIS far. I'm walking this path for a reason - so let me do something worthwhile with it. That's not to say, I didn't have moments that I hated it and didn't want anything to do with it. I'm a human being, I'm entitled to those feelings - we all are.
Changing my storyline
Before I knew it, my storyline had changed. I didn't purposely seek this out. Nor did I know this would happen. I didn't even realize when it was happening.I had no idea that by sharing my story, building my community and embracing it that it would lead to my story line changing. But it did. And all of a sudden, I wasn't an "imposter" anymore. I wasn't a "fake." I was, and am . . . a survivor. Or better yet - a THRIVER!
I wish, I could tell you - follow these steps and you'll rid yourself of feeling like an imposter forever - but that is absolutely not the case. I still feel it from time to time. The only difference is that I am better at recognizing it and telling it to "sit back down and then I power pose all over the place!"
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