How to Stop the Imposter Syndrome Police
Or how I get past the bossy voice in my head that keeps demanding my credentials
There’s a voice in my head: a relentless, authoritarian voice that demands proof from me. It’s a voice that constantly questions my legitimacy, pokes at my authority and relishes in asking me: “Just who the heck do you think you are?” It’s the Imposter Syndrome Police.
The Imposter Syndrome Police
The Imposter Syndrome Police show up whenever I’m on my way to do something important. When about to try something new or step outside my comfort zone, they appear: stop sign in hand, blocking the road ahead and asking me for the same thing every time: my credentials.
According to the Imposter Syndrome Police, I’m not allowed to keep going without the right certifications. Only “official experts” are allowed to go where I’m going and I have to prove myself before I continue. So the Imposter Syndrome Police start to pepper me with questions:
“Who gave you the right to be here?”
“What authority do you have to pull this off?”
And their absolute favorite, “Just who do you think you are?”
Even after a lengthy interrogation, the Imposter Syndrome Police always deem me unqualified. They inform me that I’m not a “real” professional, that sooner or later I’ll be discovered as the fraud I am. And they declare that I’m not legitimate enough to keep going.
And the more I try to make my case, the more insistent they become.
Every time I run into the Imposter Syndrome Police, it’s the same story: just when I’ve convinced myself to do something bold, I hit a barrier in the road where I’m forced to prove my legitimacy before continuing on. I’m forced to question my own right to be here… and in those moments, I can’t help but think that maybe the Imposter Syndrome Police are right.
Maybe I am just faking it. Maybe I am just a girl without the right credentials. Maybe I don’t have the right to be here. After running into that same barrier time and time again, I knew there was only one way to find out…
One day on my way to do something new, the Imposter Syndrome Police showed up again. And they did what they always do: they asked me for proof before I could continue on.
And I refused.
I said no. I refused to play their interrogation game. I was going through.
And then I did what I should have done a long time ago: I kept walking.
I walked right past their insistent yelling, their demands and their road block. And a funny thing happened on the other side of that barrier…
No one stopped me. No one forced me to turn around. The Imposter Syndrome Police kept yelling and telling me that I didn’t belong there.
But I did belong there. I was there. I’d kept going and I’d survived. Because it turns out, I didn’t need any sort of fancy credentials on the other side after all.
Now whenever I run into the Imposter Syndrome Police, I just keep walking. They still yell at me when I stroll by, demanding that I prove myself. But the more I walk past their road block, the more I realize that they’re powerless to stop me.
The Imposter Syndrome Police will always show up. They’ll always ask me for my credentials and question my right to be here. And I’ll just keep walking.
Because no matter what that voice in my head says, the only one who can ever really stop me on this journey is me.
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