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Imposter syndrome and finding an authentic voice in a "fake it till you make it" world.

As I "write" these words using the dictation function on Word :), I have the surreal experience of watching my inner thoughts materialise while instantly judging them as they appear.

Impostor Syndrome
These are not my shoes

The first feeling that I observe arise is amazement. I am pleased that my inner thoughts are taking shape in the world before my eyes. The next feeling that follows almost simultaneously is that of fear tinged with shame. Questions tumble from every direction. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" and "What if someone reads this and laughs out loud?" "God, what if no one ever reads this?" Many years ago, these questions would lead to a total shutdown. However, today I sit in amazement and discomfort. And just keep writing.

One thing that has not changed in all the years that I've been feeling, surviving, learning, falling, failing, growing, trying, and writing is my procrastination. Oh, procrastination, you sweet time-sucking temptress. With all your perfectly timed distractions, inviting myself away from the moment and the awkwardness I feel. Add in a basket of laundry, a few dust bunnies, and green babies that need watering. Bingo, we will leave that project to another day. Or year. Or decade. And for a long time, has worked.

I know why I love procrastination so much because when I try to do things that are hard for me, my brain gets just a little bit quiet, and then I notice the little voice that says; you are an FFF (flailing f***ing fraud) and should give up before you embarrass yourself anymore. I have spent YEARS of my life procrastinating to avoid that little voice. It's still there, but now we have research and a fancy name. Tada!

Imposter Syndrome, noun.

The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines it as: "a psychological condition that is characterised by persistent doubt concerning one's abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one's ongoing success." [1]

I define it as a persistent condition in which I feel like an FFF and convince myself that I should get the hell out of this moment. In some other definitions, impostor syndrome is linked with perfectionism.

In an article from Psychology Today, simply titled Imposter Syndrome, the authors stated,

"Personality traits largely drive imposter syndrome: Those who experience it struggle with self-efficacy, perfectionism, and neuroticism..." [2]

  • Self-efficacy (aka, belief (or lack thereof) in having the power to affect change in one's life – Check. (Aka, I was not assured of my power to affect anything).

  • Perfectionism – Check. CHECK!

  • Neuroticism – Yeah. Sadly. 100% Check

Therefore, I am a weak, perfectionist, neurotic, FFF, imposter…and in the words of Abed from the TV comedy, ‘Community’… "cool, cool, cool." I guess I'm ok with that.

I get it now. I feel like an impostor when I'm feeling confident or powerful or speaking with authority because those attributes are not part of my operating system. So, they feel strange, like "not me," like I'm faking it. It was upon listening to Brené Brown's audiobook The Power of Vulnerability[3] that I had my first cool, cool, cool moment. She tells her story of acceptance and authenticity, and it struck me to my core. Her words were powerful and perfect. I changed them, of course. "Don't get big, don't apologise, just be you" Her version is much more poetic, but mine does the trick at a pinch, and it works a treat when repeated inside my head at speed.

And that's it. My authentic voice. It's not big, and it's not apologising, it's just me. Cool, Cool Cool.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome aka living with your new friend.

Imposture syndrome is just a cute little way that we attempt to protect ourselves and keep ourselves safe. It is a traffic cone that was accidentally put in the middle of the road, and we think that it's keeping us safe from danger somewhere down the road when its actually just there because it's been there a long time, and we never checked to see if there was actually danger somewhere up ahead. Imposture syndrome is the real imposture.

Magic Cure?

Well, kind of. As Dr. Dan Siegel says, "Name It, to Tame It." [4] In this case, identifying that imposture syndrome is the real FFF is a great place to start. "Oh, hey, girl," I now say as she sidles over during a session with a client or as she creeps up behind me during dinner with super smart and gorgeous friends. "I see you, cutie. But I don't think I need protecting this time." I'm going to try just being ok with being me. Cool, cool, cool, she says.

So, give it a try. Notice when that little voice way down deep asks you if you know what you're doing. Or maybe it starts with that worry in the pit of your stomach that feels like not being safe. Say hey, call them by name, and invite them to go and watch Community.


[1] “Imposter syndrome.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, [2] Imposter syndrome (no date) Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers. Available at: [3] 1. Brown B. The power of vulnerability teachings on authenticity, connection, & courage. Sounds True; 2012. [4] 1. Name It to Tame It [Internet]. YouTube. YouTube; 2014 [cited 2023 May 9]. Available from:

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