Last week I came home from a poorly attended yoga class. It was rainy and chilly and it made sense to attribute the low number to that. But did I? NOPE. Instead Impostor Syndrome reared its ugly head. Thoughts like:
“I must suck as a teacher.”
“I mean just look at all of these awesome yoga teachers on Instagram! I don’t look like that!”
“I’m never going to be able to do those advanced yoga poses.”
And it got worse to…
“I’m not helping Third Space… They’re better off with a different partner.”
“I’m not helping anyone. I should just do something else…”
“OH MY GOD, WHY DO I SUCK SO MUCH??? MY LIFE IS A FARCE!”
I felt like a complete and utter fraud. That I should stop pretending to be a yoga teacher and a business owner. That I was letting everyone down, especially Joy and Rachel… That I needed to let my dreams go and stick to my boring desk job and permanently nail myself to it.
It didn’t matter that I had helped so many people before. Or that I’ve heard time and time again that students really appreciated my teaching style. Or even the hours I’ve put in to help Third Space that I know Rachel and Joy truly appreciated. None of my previous accomplishments mattered. Just this fear that someone was going to find out that I’ve only been faking it and how awful I really am.
Wouldn’t you know it, the next day a student I had been working one-on-one with called to say that she had fallen the other day but that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been because she used a tool I had taught her in one of our sessions to brace herself.
“WHAT? Me? I did that? No way!”
I helped someone! I really did! Oh my God, that’s so great. Maybe I can do this! Maybe I’m not wasting my time (or anyone else’s) after all.
I would like to tell you that I’m cured of the Impostor Syndrome. And that I walk out there with my head held high, confident of my abilities and value. But I’m not. The downward spiral of self-doubt comes from time to time. And maybe I’ll never shake it off. Maybe I’ll never feel like I’ve “made it.” But that’s okay because that feeling also keeps me honest, keeps me humble, keeps me trying, keeps me working on improving myself… Hell, even Neil Gaiman, who has authored some of the most beautiful stories I have ever read, had moments of Impostor Syndrome. Below he talks about his experience with it:
The first problem of any kind of even limited success is the unshakable conviction that you are getting away with something, and that any moment now they will discover you. It’s Impostor Syndrome, something my wife, Amanda, christened the Fraud Police.
In my case, I was convinced that there would be a knock on the door, and a man with a clipboard (I don’t know why he carried a clipboard, in my head, but he did) would be there, to tell me it was all over, and they had caught up with me, and now I would have to go and get a real job, one that didn’t consist of making things up and writing them down, and reading books I wanted to read. And then I would go away quietly and get the kind of job where you don’t have to make things up any more.
See? You don’t see him giving up his day job!
It is unfortunate that we, to our own detriment, often link our self-worth to a packed yoga class, our salaries, our nice car or home, or even how many followers we have on social media. But I leave you with this thought: If a tree falls in the forest and there is no one around to hear it, does it make a sound? My answer to that is YES!! We don’t need someone else to see our self-worth for it to exist. We are complete (and wonderful) human beings regardless of whether the people around us think so. We are not faking it. We already are the very thing that we are doing.