She's an Imposter: When You Feel Like You Don't Belong

A few years ago, I started attending retreats designed for badass, strong boss women. Women who were at the top of their games, on top of their businesses. Women who were in control, successful women. You know, the high achieving women. For a whole week, I'd planned every outfit to the tee. I knew how I was going to do my make-up, I knew how my hair was going to be styled. I knew that was going to walk in the room and own it. I knew these things because I had just that much confidence in me. I was confident in my abilities as the boss woman I was aspiring to be. I was confident in the knowledge I'd obtained over the years to be in the position I was in. I had written a book, I was building a coaching business, I was making great strides in reaching the goals that I'd always wanted to obtain. I knew that I was worthy of being in the building. The first day of my very first retreat, I was overwhelmed with emotion as soon as I stepped foot into the room. I looked around at all the faces and listened to all the stories and immediately began to have little panic attacks and feelings of anxiety. For three days straight, I fought back tears. And between every break I actually went in the bathroom and cried. To go a step further, I called my husband and cried in the phone, "I don't belong here. I have no business thinking that I measure up to the caliber of people in this room!" My husband, being the stern military man that he is, knew the exact tone to take with me and my emotions. As soothing as he knew how, he said, "Baby, you are just as good as any other person in that room." He encouraged me throughout the next days of the retreat through text messages and checking in. It didn't help, but the gesture was nice.

That wasn't the first time or the last time I'd felt those feelings or had those thoughts. Just this past week I had the opportunity to experience a dream in reality. I had to the opportunity to check something off of my bucket list that I had no idea would actually happen. I attended one of the most prestigious functions know in the music industry. I had the opportunity to attend The Grammys. On the outside, if you saw the pictures, you saw that I was having a ball. And I was. I truly enjoyed every single thing that I did. All the way up until Sunday. First off, let me start by saying that I was in the presence of family and there are times when I feel like I am not even worthy of breathing the same air as them. My brother is constantly reminding me that he is just as regular as me. Of course I don't see it as such, but what can I say. When I walked into the Arena, formerly known as Staples Center, I was immediately overwhelmed with thoughts of "Girl, you know better than to even think you belong amongst 'these people.'" I had to walk around feeling like I was a fake. Secretly criticizing my clothes, my hair, my shoes. Everything about myself. My husband texted me and asked, "Anyone asked you who you were yet?" My response, "These folks know ain'nobody!" He said, "I'm quite sure you look a lot better than the 'famous' people." Ya'll the confidence that man has in me is unmatched. He believes in me more than I believe in myself sometimes. After the show, my family and I went to the after-party. As if I didn't already feel out of place enough. I did it again. Downplayed who I was. We're sitting at the table, people watching and eating. My brother goes, "Don't be afraid to talk to people, everybody in this room is somebody." Before I knew it, I said "Except me, huh," and laughed it off. I kicked myself all night.

Why am I like this? Why do I always downplay the abilities that God has blessed me with? Why am I always feeling like I don't belong in the rooms I'm invited to? Why do I always allow my thoughts to overtake the truth?

I AM somebody. I AM a high achieving woman. I AM successful. I AM a boss!

But in all of these "I AMs," why do I feel like I'm a fake wanna-be?

These feelings have spilled over into my business. I look at all the boss women around me and immediately begin to think "Who am I to be amongst a group of women who knows everything there is to know about running a business?" I perceive them to have it all together, no fear, no shame, no struggles, no hiccups. On top of the fact that every time they show up, they absolutely kill it! Meanwhile, I sit down at my computer and say, "Tracie, what are you doing, you can't do this. You're fake and you know nothing about the things you are trying to talk about." I share all of my experiences, yet I treat myself as if I know nothing about everything that I have experienced. How sway?!?

*I have to pause to laugh at myself because I am completely tripping*

These are feelings of being an imposter. What does Imposter Syndrome feel like? It feels like you don't belong. It feels like you shouldn't be amongst the greats. You have little panic attacks and your anxiety is on high. You're fighting the tears of fear in the invent someone asks you "well, what do you do?" It feels like you're not good enough. Although the feelings are real, nothing about you are fake.

Of the few types of Imposter Syndrome, I have come to learn that I was dealing with 2. Perfectionist and Soloist. I am a recovering perfectionist. There use to be a time when I didn't accept mistakes. I couldn't. Because making a mistake meant that I was a failure. As a perfectionist, I set extremely high standards for myself. When I couldn't reach my own standards, I immediately began to tear myself down. I immediately began to overthink everything. Now imagine feeling like you've failed at the expense of someone else. You begin to think that you are total fraud and you don't belong where you are.

As a Soloist, I was used to doing things alone for a couple of reasons. One, if I messed up, no one would know. I could deal with the mess up on my own. Two, if by chance I succeeded, the success didn't belong to me. It wasn't something that I accomplished. Because "it's not okay to ask for help." You have to figure everything out on your own. WOO! Where in the world did that come from? I've learned by watching my brother that the most successful people in the world are not self-made people. They had help from somewhere, somebody. And they are constantly asking questions. 

How does imposter syndrome affect you and what you do?

Stay tuned to find out more.