Something that has been popping up a lot around me lately in conversation has been “imposter syndrome”. For anyone who has never heard of it, imposter syndrome is where people doubt their accomplishments or feel as if they will be exposed as fraudulent. It could apply to anything such as whether you feel you deserved an “A” in school or even Einstein experienced it (there is a great TED talk about this) with some of his discoveries. What was amazing to me was that someone as brilliant as Einstein could feel something that so many of us feel and I was wondering about why that is.
My approach to this concept and how to heal it is different than anything I had read thus far. I believe a large contributing factor to this phenomenon is that in our world there are “teachers” and then there are “students”. The word “teacher” implies a certain level of mastery. We even have a system in place when you get a certain degree after a certain amount of time in school, then you are considered a “master” on that subject. This is all great until it implies some sort of pecking order where there are people who are the “masters” and the “teachers”, essentially those who “know more” and then there are those that “need to be taught” and consequently “know less”.
I was talking to my great friend Joseph* the other day on the phone and we love to have philosophical debates for about four hours every Saturday (I know, weird, but sometimes hearing others peoples’ authentic thoughts is my idea of fun). Joseph was saying how he loves our conversations but that he felt as if they were unbalanced since it seemed like I was always teaching him something. He felt like he didn’t have anything to offer. I could see why he thought that way on a surface level. Usually, since he is such a curious person, he asks me questions, I answer and then we have some sort of a healthy debate about it. From an outside perspective it could definitely seem like he was asking me for answers. I immediately told him that wasn’t the way I interpreted our meaningful exchanges at all. Our conversations wouldn’t even exist without his brilliant questions! I was learning an incredible amount from him through these conversations. I told Joseph how much I valued connecting with him on these topics and how excited I was to learn from his unique perspective. Joseph seemed to be underestimating how much he brought to the table.
So many people do this. I was listening to a podcast (if you have read any of my other posts, it always starts with a podcast) and this woman was talking about her spiritual journey as well as her relationship with food. For a long time she felt as if she couldn’t share anything about her journey with herself or with food because she hadn’t “mastered” it yet. She hadn’t “mastered” life and didn’t feel as if she could be a “life coach” or coach anyone in anything she didn’t have a good handle on.
It was one of those moments that gave me pause. What did she feel that she had to master exactly? Life?! Who does that? Or who has done that?! I’m not saying there aren’t smart, wonderful people out there. However, has anyone or will anyone truly master life? It seems abstract but it is very much connected to “imposter syndrome”. So many people, including myself at one point, have felt that we can’t teach other people anything until we have mastered it ourselves. This is one way “imposter syndrome” manifests, because if someone found out somehow that we don’t have all the answers pertaining to the information we are sharing, we could potentially look like “frauds”. Okay sure, I am not about to teach anyone multiple integration and vector calculus because at that point in college I decided my math career was over. I’m not saying someone who has never taken chemistry should be a chemistry professor. That does not mean that they have nothing to offer. I’m really not talking about that stuff anyway because it is all a part of social programming. When I say that, I mean we could have easily lived in a totally different world with a totally different set of “rules”. We just so happen to be in this one where we place importance on concepts such as math and chemistry. However this world is always fluid, constantly changing and could have easily looked very different. In other words, computer science didn’t matter thousands of years ago because there were no computers. It was irrelevant. The outside world is always changing. This post is more about going inward. Thus, I am focusing on why it is people don’t feel “valid” or “worthy” enough to share themselves and their experience.
Sometimes it can feel like if we haven’t “mastered” everything that we aren’t good enough, our accomplishments don’t mean anything, and we aren’t equipped to make an impact in other people’s lives. “Imposter syndrome” seems to seep into every area of our lives and does tie into whether we think we are “worthy” enough in order to live the lives we want or somehow be of service to others. We think, “what could someone who doesn’t have all the answers have to ‘teach’ someone else?” What we don’t realize is, you are doing everyone a favor by being yourself and sharing your authentic experience.
Here is a very simple example: my friend Cara* was going through her own process pertaining to sexuality. Cara asked me about it and because I chose to be honest and vulnerable about it, she thanked me for helping her. Imagine if everyone did this all the time with everything.
On Instagram the other day, someone asked someone else (vague I know) if, “they could be them”. The person responded, “The day you were born was the day that God decided this world couldn’t exist without you! All you… you have too much to offer this world…”. Whether you believe in God or not, this was too beautiful not to pass along. To me this is another person recognizing the world needs you to be yourself and to not be afraid to be vulnerable and share your authentic self expression with everyone you have the opportunity to be with. The way you came here is perfect. There is so much social conditioning and programming that may say otherwise. It suggests that, “if you don’t fit into this mold then you are pointless”. Do you really think that is true? About yourself? About others? Would you ever say to someone: “don’t be yourself, you have nothing to offer, you’re only useful if you follow these rules”? It happens far too often that we are stripped of our beautiful individuality from the time we are born. I am happy to be a part of a shift where it is being recognized that we are not all meant to be the same.
You are here with a unique variety of gifts. I don’t even need to go into how you got here or any of those theories to know that you have something very special to share with every single person in this world. You do not have to wait until you have “mastered” anything to share your authenticity. I brought up the woman on the podcast because the phrase “life coach” does get tossed around a lot and I can see how that would imply that you need to have your sh*t together in order for you to coach someone else because of that dynamic we have established between the “teacher” aka “the one who knows” with the “student” aka “the one who knows nothing”. You do not need to have everything “together” (what does that even mean anyway…) in order to share your unique life experience. It doesn’t even make sense. Why would you need to master your own unique experience in order to teach someone else about their own totally different experience? We all create our own realities and they are not the same. That’s wonderful! You may ask, “well wait, if we don’t all have the same experience anyway, then how can I comment or ‘teach’ anyone anything?” What I am doing here is tossing the word “teach” out the window and replacing it with the word “share”. You can share so much about yourself with other people and yes they will learn from it. What I like about the word “share” is it doesn’t imply someone’s state of Being is “lesser”. I truly believe that a monk in Tibet has as much to share with me as my sister. Two totally different experiences but there is nothing that makes the monk’s experience and knowledge more valid than my sister’s. (I have a post “polarity, objectivity, neutrality” that could help to help make more sense of these ideas… I don’t believe in “greater” or “less than” when it comes to people, ideas, or anything, it all just Is.).
I was with a family friend, Savannah* who has a wonderful daughter Bellamy* and Savannah was saying how perceptive, empathetic and special Bellamy is. Parents always think that their child is the most special person in the world. The cool thing is that they are all right! Bellamy is one of the most beautiful, emotionally intelligent and adorable children I have met. She is definitely a special force but so are you and your children (maybe you don’t have any, so we can use your parents as an example or your siblings or anyone in your life really) and everyone on the planet. The reason I bring up children is that Savannah noticed these gifts in Bellamy and Bellamy is no more than four. Bellamy didn’t have to “master” anything for her mother to recognize how gifted she is. It’s the same for you or me. Children are vast souls. This is where we may disagree about what is really going on here on Earth and the Universe at large. However, I do believe that souls exist and we have experienced (or are experiencing, depending on if you believe in past or parallel lives) many different lifetimes. Why not?! Bellamy, like everyone else, came here with all of that knowledge. She may be in a four-year-old’s body (disclaimer: I don’t know how old she is exactly but I’m running with it now) but that is just the body. There is a Force (capitalized on purpose) far more intelligent within her that is timeless and infinite. It is inside of you, too. Too often people think that age is what makes you more wise. You came here wise. You are Infinite. Whatever body you happen to be in is irrelevant. Time is such a social construct anyway. How are you going to let social constructs dictate to you who is worthy of sharing themselves with you? Some people even believe that children are far smarter and more intuitive than adults because they haven’t been through that social conditioning. It is all relative.
One of the most empowering experiences I had was when I got my first tarot reading. The reader went through the akashic records and told me about my unique soul blueprint and the gifts I came here with. It was incredible reading about myself on a multidimensional level. By the way, she could be totally “wrong”. Maybe none of this exists. I believe it but that isn’t the important part. It was the idea of knowing I had a unique experience to share that was the important takeaway. It also opened my eyes to acknowledge that if I had soul gifts, so does everyone else! Knowing that there were so many intricate parts to explore in people multidimensionally made this world that much more incredible!
You have so much to offer the world. Yes that may seem incredibly cliché but too many people underestimate themselves so it seems like it needs to be said more often. Do not wait for other people to give you permission to be yourself and share your experience. That woman from the podcast finally acknowledged that she doesn’t need to “perfect” anything in order to share her timeless and infinite wisdom. I benefited from listening to her for an hour. She chose to put herself out there and to be herself and we are all benefiting from it.
I heard one “teacher” say that you can only “coach” the “previous version of yourself”. This “teacher” is someone who is definitely smart and accomplished but this doesn’t sit well with me because it contributes to this idea that until you have “mastered” yourself, you cannot offer anyone anything else when it comes to sharing your life experience. I can see where it comes from, but when do you plan on “mastering” yourself? It could happen when you are about to leave this life. However, if you wait that long we don’t benefit from your gifts. I could wait until I feel as if I have taken enough writing courses and I have figured out my entire life in order to write this but then I would be dead. My opportunity to share my authentic experience with the world would be long gone.
One of my favorite podcast hosts Sri Mati was on another podcast where someone asked her who her top three “teachers” were. Sri Mati answered with, “everyone I’ve ever met” (paraphrasing but that is the idea). I loved this because it does align with the way I think, but it was so important for someone else to begin spreading this idea that we all have something to offer one another.
When you are authentic and vulnerable, what you can offer someone is limitless. You don’t need to wait until you “perfect” something and wait for someone to tell you that you are “good enough” to share yourself. You came here perfect. There is nothing to “perfect”. Whether you believe your soul went through countless incarnations or not, you are here and you were meant to be here. You were not an accident. So many of us take our simple existence for granted. We don’t need to agree on how we got here. Either way, why are you here? I don’t know much about atheism (I am really trying to be all inclusive here) but I’m pretty sure this still works. Even if you don’t believe in God, Source, Consciousness, etc. that doesn’t need to prevent you from empowering yourself and knowing you have something to share. You are inherently complete and worthy. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying there is no reason whatsoever to listen to other people. What is so cool about all of this is we all have the same “infinite wisdom” of the Universe within us (another post about this soon) and our souls choose to express different parts and degrees of the human spectrum while we are here at different points along our journeys. Imagine how overwhelming it would be if you expressed everything at full capacity all at once… crazy right?! That’s why we are all here, expressing different parts at the same time. It is as if we are all whole already, but also all pieces of a puzzle. Within us is Source, God, etc and we are complete. In this dimension we all connect to one another to create a puzzle. We embody this complex but simple concept of being whole but also a part of the whole at the same time (I’ll admit this can be kind of confusing, it certainly was when I first heard it but when I understood it nothing has made more sense– send me a message if you feel inspired to, the concept I am referring to relates to “holons” if you are curious**). It is a wonderful balance of knowing you are Infinity and also embracing humanity by understanding what your soul has chosen to express third dimensionally in this lifetime and sharing that human experience with others. For me, it is all about recognizing I am Source but also thoughtfully and consciously engaging with the wonderful gift of being human. I know I am inherently complete and have access to whatever I need at all times and I can still enjoy my unique connections with other beautiful souls while just enjoying this experience.
with unconditional love, katie
* name has been changed
** a great book explaining and integrating the “holon” is “Eye of the Spirit” by Ken Wilber