Imposter Syndrome

Jessica Sturdy on a white twisted staircase at Comunal Co-Working in Lima, Peru. She is carrying a laptop and wearing a long cashmere cardigan with cropped jeans and leather slip-on loafers.

It’s been a challenging last week or two. Maybe three, I’ve lost count. I hate to even say that because there have been some great days tossed in there, too. And I truly feel guilty for admitting that I’ve been feeling lackluster as of late because in the grand scheme of things, I have nothing to complain about. I have my health, I have a roof over my head, I have great friends and family. But I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that I’ve been going through a little bit of a rut.

Fortunately, it hasn’t been a creative rut, as those really are the worst sometimes. Nope, I’ve been able to stay busy and productive, just as I always tend to do when things get challenging. I’ve thrown myself into work, not making the time to workout, not changing out of my pajamas, not showering for a few days at a time, working until the wee hours of the morning, and basically just traveling from my bed to my desk to my kitchen when I remember that I should eat something. Wow… When I look at it like that, yikes, maybe it’s been a little bit worse than I thought. But as someone who frequently forgets to not quantify happiness, success, and self-worth with productivity and output, it’s seemed like I’m just in my groove and getting shit d-o-n-e. 👊🏼

Truth be told, I’ve been dealing with some tough times that have popped up over the last few weeks and it feels like I’m constantly dodging metaphorical bullets, trying to put out fires, and struggling to stay afloat some days. I’m okay, and I’ll be okay, but it’s just been a very full plate of things to deal with. Like I mentioned above, I’m so fortunate that all of my basic needs are more than covered, but if I’m being honest, it’s just all felt pretty heavy most days. And I’m sure it being the end of February and Chicago having mostly cold, gloomy days doesn’t really help things.

As I’ve been working around the clock to launch my podcast on Friday (I think we’re still on target, naturally it’s just been one technical difficulty after another as I try to figure out what the heck I’m doing on the back end!), while simultaneously surviving a little bit of a shit storm, I’ve had the worst imposter syndrome, to the point where I’m like, “Do I just scrap this thing all together?!”

“It’s not the last ten months, but more so the last two and a half years. It’s about the life that’s been lived, lessons learned, mistakes made, self helped, and self found.”

Yesterday, as I re-listened to that line at the end of my first podcast episode, I think I snorted with judgmental laughter. And then all of the ever-present condescending thoughts and questions began filling my mind… “Who the eff are you to start a podcast?” “You’re a complete fraud with no ground to stand on.” “Who wants to listen to a podcast from a girl who definitely does not have her shit together?” “No one is even going to listen, so why waste the time, effort, and energy?” “You’re not doing this to make money, so why are you even doing it?” “Who even cares what you’re talking about? Hint: no one.”

If you’re not familiar with imposter syndrome, allow Harvard Business Review to do the explaining…

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments, however successful they are in their field. High achieving, highly successful people often suffer, so imposter syndrome doesn’t equate with low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence. In fact, some researchers have linked it with perfectionism, especially in women and among academics.

If that sounds all too familiar, please know that you’re not crazy, and you’re not alone. And you can click here for some suggested ways of overcoming imposter syndrome.

As I’ve caught my mind trying to talk me out of putting myself out there in a new way and canceling the podcast all together because “I have no idea what I’m talking about,” I’ve had to remind myself of this one little thing…

Life is not linear.

One day while I was in college, I was in Jimmy John’s on Green Street waiting for my sandwich to be made when I looked up and saw a phrase on a sign that has stuck with me ever since… “Sometimes you’re the pigeon, and sometimes you’re the statue.”

Just because you’ve been up, doesn’t mean that you won’t come back down. Just because you’ve had moments of clarity and firmly believe you’re on your right path, doesn’t mean you’ll feel forever in the clear. Just when you think you’ve solved one of life’s little mysteries, you’ll find another piece of the puzzle to throw a wrench in things. Ups and downs (and weaves and circles and backtracking and finding your way forward again) are all a part of the journey.

I’ve reminded myself that even the very best teachers are continually learning. Gabby Bernstein admits to times where she’s forgotten that the Universe has her back. Jess Lively speaks to the moments that she didn’t ask her inner voice for it’s wisdom during a difficult time. Brene Brown still feels shame and experiences vulnerability hangovers. Maxie McCoy still feels lost from time to time. And does that make us question them or the validity of what they say, write, and teach? Absolutely not, it makes them seem a little more human and much more relatable.

You, too, can share your experience, and potentially even teach or inspire someone, without being a perfect human that never struggles and never makes mistakes. It’s okay to veer off course from time to time, as that’s where you do the work to get back on track. No one has their shit together all the time, no matter what picture Instagram paints.

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  1. 2.27.19
    Rena said:

    You are really honest, thank you for that. Wishing you by heart that you finally can get over these feelings as I know how proud you can be and what a wonderful woman you are.
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

  2. 2.27.19
    Carly said:

    I can’t wait for your podcast!

  3. 2.27.19
    Marta said:

    It happens to everyone, you’re no different. I believe you have the strength to get over this tough time and that you’ll rise better than you were before. Wishing you the best.

  4. 2.27.19
    Sam said:

    Girl, you are not alone. It’s so easy to fall into the comparison trap in this space and sometimes you get stuck there. Kudos to you for starting a podcast and facing your fears. Can’t wait to hear more about it!

  5. 2.27.19
    Maureen said:

    Kudos for keeping on! I can’t wait to hear more about your podcast. I know it’ll be amazing. I feel like I am in a rut too. The weather doesn’t help that’s for sure!

    Maureen |

  6. 2.27.19
    Holly said:

    Thanks for posting! I think we can all use a reminder like this now and then:) Cant wait to hear your podcast – good for you!!

  7. 2.27.19
    Aunt Anne said:

    Look forward to hearing your podcast!! BTW…Sometimes we just need to cut ourselves some slack. So…give yourself credit for taking all the steps to get you going. Remember…LIFE is a journey & not a destination …it’s all your own. And as Jean Case told me…”she must be FEARLESS”. Go for it!

  8. 2.28.19
    Mary Kate said:

    Can’t wait to listen to your podcast on my five hour drive Saturday!!

  9. 2.28.19
    Meg said:

    I can’t wIt for your podcast! This is so exciting!

  10. 2.28.19
    Meg said:

    I can’t wait for your podcast! This is so exciting!