“I wrote a post the other day about success. I said that it didn’t look like I thought it would. Then I was having coffee with a friend, we don’t see each other often but she’s the kind of friend you can say anything to. We tend to understand one another from each side of the country as if we’ve known one another forever. I was talking this over with her when I started to wonder why I feel like such an imposter for being successful.
Really, why am I struggling to reconcile this?
It isn’t a self-esteem thing; I don’t question if I am worthy to be heard, to speak difficult truths, or to take up space. Maybe at one point in my life, but not now.
Then what is it?
I (like a professional millennial) Googled ‘Imposter Syndrome’ and a common theme was the fear that you could be outted for not really being as successful as you tote. If you know me or have followed me, you can tell this isn’t it. I constantly criticize myself for all my fails and my lack of having my act perfectly together.
But… What if it is my perception of the success of others?
What if all these years of Instagram pros and ‘successful’ powerhouse women gave me an incorrect vision of success? That felt closer.
I scrolled my feed and did an autopsy of what success looked like in my mind and how I felt my life was different. Here’s what I came up with:
I imagined wider margins between work and family:
I have all these mental images of women, dressed for success and sitting at white, shiny desks with their laptops open and their not-even-necessary glasses to the side. The lighting is bright and there is a perfectly groomed plant in the corner by a floor to ceiling window.
If that is you, then sister that is amazing, seriously, good for you, but this isn’t my reality. That interview I did with the TODAY show? I was wearing my favorite cotton sweater and a pair of running leggings. I was at home, with a dirty ponytail, in my tiny house and all three of my kids were there too. In fact, about the time she asked me ‘What did this look like from your perspective?’ I was wiping a toddler’s butt and trying to remain articulate.
I imagined more experience:
I didn’t realize how little I would know about how things work when someone wanted to share my work. The first few times I granted syndicate permissions, I botched it big time. I made simple mistakes because I just didn’t know the ropes. I was excited that anyone cared what I had to say so I gave a ‘yes’ when I should have given a ‘yes, as long as’ list of things they were not allowed to do with my writing.
You live and learn.
I thought I would write and work for years while my kids are little and then hopefully ‘be successful’ when they were older and more self-reliant. Well, they are little, and they are not AND THAT IS OK.
I thought I would be more equipped:
I imagined that shiny desk with podcasting microphones, computers, a headset, and a perfectly outfitted backdrop. My reality? I live in an actual tiny house with my husband and our three little boys. I have a laptop and a cellphone, that’s it. That’s my gear and my ‘headquarters.’ My desk? It’s the table we eat at, it’s where my kids squish dough and watercolor. It is the cookie baking station, the school table, the coloring surface, the ‘mama can you sew my cape’ spot and yes, it’s my workstation.
So, why am I telling you this? Because I want you to go for it, whatever your ‘it’ is. I don’t want you to wait on a floor to ceiling window and a fake house plant. You can pursue your dreams now, you can have success now, you can crush goals now. It is ok to try even if you don’t know every in and out of your industry. It is possible to land opportunities even if you’ve never dabbled in them. It is possible to do all this while your kids are little. Need more? The day I recorded an interview for a podcast I found playdough on the seat of my pants. Guess what? That playdough in no way undermined my ability to show up and give a quality interview.
What if there are no margins? What if life, and motherhood, and marriage, and sex, and grocery shopping, and potty training, and success in your industry are just one big bowl of spaghetti with every noodle touching every other noodle for some of us? What if it was OK to acknowledge that our spaghetti bowl is kind of wonderful, chaotic, and sometimes maddening all at the same time?
What if I’m not an imposter but a woman?
What if you are too?”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Katie Bryant, 31, of North Caroina. Follow Katie on Instagram here and Facebook here. Do you have a similar experience? We’d like to hear your important journey. Submit your own story here.
Read more from Katie here:
‘Most of the house was gone. Two different firemen carried my boys down and a third came up for me while their crew broke windows and doors to put out the fire.’: Terrifying house fire leads family down a new life path
‘I got the call at 6 p.m., left my kids with my husband and drove to her house with my socks crammed into my Birkenstocks.’: Mom urges others to ‘just show up’ when friends need you, ‘She didn’t need Pinterest, she needed me’
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