I'm stuck. Too embarrassed to look backward. Too afraid to move forward.
If I curl up in a little ball, maybe nobody will notice that I don't belong. Maybe they won't notice that I am not smart enough, or creative enough, skilled enough, or whatever enough.
If I fade into the background, just maybe I won't be found out and maybe I can stay.
Who has had these feelings of not being enough? Who has felt shame that they won't live up to expectations? Or more to the point, who hasn't had these feelings? Who hasn't felt the dread of imposter syndrome?
A sense of belonging is one of our deepest needs as a human. We evolved as a species through cooperation of family and tribe. On the evolutionary timeline, man's use of technology to survive a solitary existence has only been a blink of the eye. The security of belonging to a larger community is written in our DNA. For much of our history, it was the difference between life and death.
So it only makes sense that a fear of being rejected by our tribe feels so primal. Fear of rejection is at the core of imposter syndrome. To overcompensate for our fear of rejection, we sometimes become perfectionists, setting high standards for ourselves that will certainly ensure we remain part of the tribe. But we aren't perfect. We are humans with human flaws.
When you find yourself in the grips of imposter syndrome, take a deep breath. Now take another. Take as many as you need to feel more at peace.
Then remind yourself that all your experience is valuable, not just the wins. The practice runs and the losses count, too. Sometimes the deepest value we share with others is not the end result, but the journey it took to get there.
Being imperfect does not make you an imposter. It makes you human. It makes you one of us. Welcome to the tribe.