Imposter Syndrome

I must thank my coach and his wife and whiskey for providing this topic to me as a point of conversation.

Let’s talk about imposter syndrome. First, what it is? Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which people have difficulty internalizing their success. Basically, they  believe that they are somehow a fraud or undeserving of success despite external evidence that exists to the contrary. This syndrome is mostly associated with high achieving women – which speaks volumes about the sociological and cultural implications of being women but that’s another conversation. For example, imposter syndrome is asking “why on earth would people listen to me because I’m not qualified, as good as this other person, etc.” when there is evidence to indicate that people do, indeed, want to listen to what you have to say.

Anyways, I find myself struggling with it, big time. And from my conversations with others, it seems that this is a common thing for women.

This phenomenon isn’t specific to one particular situation or scenario but for me, I feel this way all the time about competing or training. I’m an extremely logical person – to a fault in some instances, but nevertheless, I tend to look at things in a very logical fashion. Ask me how I plan to achieve something and I can lay out a plan from point A to point Z for you without much trouble. Ask me to believe in my own ability to execute said plan for the intended result, and I’m probably going to give you a list of reasons why I can’t or it won’t work for me or whatever. Basically, I logically know that I can do said thing but I do not believe that I can do said thing.

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And that lack of belief is not rooted in my desire to not do the work, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I am willing to work hard, very hard (often times, too much) to achieve something. I display some very classic diligence behaviors. Basically, I feel that I must work harder and work more to avoid being viewed as a “fraud” or “imposter” buuuut hard work begets success and thus more “imposter” feelings. Furthermore, I will be the first person to praise anyone’s accomplishments and attempt to externally validate and recognize their awesomeness but dear god don’t ask me to do that for myself. It’s not that I can’t or won’t celebrate my success or progress but that I will attempt to qualify it to pieces with “yeah but it should be this”. And that becomes problematic.

 

What is interesting to  me is that, in talking with other women, it seems that this feeling is pervasive in almost every aspect of life but really comes to light with high-priority activities like sports, lifting, or their chosen hobby. I know for myself, doing things that aren’t easy or that I’m not very good at pushes those buttons. I feel like an “imposter” because I’m not as good as x,y, or z person or it’s not perfect or I’m not the best, etc. despite working hard at something because my investment is higher. And often times, there is a distinct disconnect between our own perception and how others view us. Someone’s perception of  me may be one thing but I may believe the opposite or something else to be true and internalize that as my reality.

Simply put, imposter syndrome is a bit like saying: “I don’t feel like I’m good enough even though there is plenty of evidence to suggest that I am good enough”. In talking with other women about this, it is both comforting and discouraging to know that so many feel the same way. It is comforting because it’s nice to know that other people experience this but discouraging because I tend to think that my “tribe” is full of some really incredible, bad ass people who have absolutely no reason to feel like “imposters”. But they do. And that’s the complicated part of it all.

Maybe we all just need to spend a little time trying to view ourselves how others view us. And maybe we should all spend a little time telling others about their awesome.

 

Winning vs. Getting Better

As I get ready to compete for the third time this season, I’m trying to map out the rest of my “competition” time which means I have the ever fun endeavor of picking shows. I’m pretty lucky in that my region has a lot of shows to chose from so I get to be, well, chose-y. Because there are a decent amount of shows to chose from, I’ve been having trouble deciding which contests I want to enter so I asked my coach for his thoughts. His answer was exactly what I had really  been debating about in my head – do I want to win or do I want to do something that makes me better?

Once the question was asked, my answer was pretty clear. I want to do things that make me better. Done. Case Closed. Sign me up.

But then there is always that thought of “well, winning would be nice”. And winning IS nice. I’m a pretty competitive person and am a perfectionist by nature – I want to be the best at everything all the time. This is a truly laughable endeavor and a notion that I’ve mostly let go of because, for real, it will drive you crazy. However, that liiiittle tiny voice does pop up from time to time. Winning feels good. Period. And there isn’t anything really wrong with wanting that feeling.

 

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But you know what feels better? Being better. But that certainly doesn’t mean it is easy. I think anyone who spends a significant amount of time throwing around heavy stuff can tell you that, at some point, being strong and capable means that your life gets simultaneously easier and harder.  At this really great article states:

 

“…suddenly being regarded as capable can be downright alarming. It can force an unexpected reassessment of boundaries and priorities…Disappearing back into weakness and low expectations may seem safer and more comfortable by comparison. Certainly they’re more familiar — and the familiar is powerfully attractive.”

 

Basically, the bigger your goals, the higher you aim, the scarier it gets. Comforting? No. Rewarding? Absolutely.

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I think that a lot of people fall into the trap of being comfortable because it’s easy. But at some point, if you want to be better…you have to do things that make you better.  You have to, at some point, take a leap and know that even if you fail, you’re still better than if you had never even tried.  I think that learning how to fail and learning from failure and mistakes will take people a lot farther than never trying.

 

So basically, this post really has no purpose other than to serve as your occasional reminder to have the courage to be great and do some epic shit.

Weekly Round Up III

Here is this week’s weekly round up of things I’m reading, writing, and enjoying.

 

Find me around the internet

This week’s Strongma’am video is an in-depth tutorial on one of my favorite things – the axle continental clean!

 

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Articles and Posts Worth Reading

Strength & Conditioning/Training

Why Cookie-Cutter Solutions Generally Fail: Context by Tom Sheppard

How to Build Success Into Your Training by Toni Gentilcore

Gender Differences in Training and Metabolism by Greg Nuckols

 

Nutrition

Mood Food by Camille DePutter

 

Mindset/Mentality

The Sport Psychology of Goal Setting by Mike Israetel

 

Randoms

Sex Sells (You Out) by Jeannine Trimboli

Training Crossfit with a Purpose by James Boatwright