It’s quite common theses days for people to come out from closets. There are different types of closets. Please allow me, it is my turn.
Some days back, I had an opportunity to hang out with an older friend of mine. He had moved to Lekki from Magodo, and was all about buying an SUV for himself and his wife. Right in the middle of Lekki traffic we got into a discussion about how I discovered that a certain ‘big’ madam we both knew was my age mate, and some bad news.
It wasn’t until the next day that we dived into intense streaming of “wisdom”. The object of analogy was his brother’s football team’s victory in Yale. My friend’s brother was the captain of his class’ team, and he confessed (of course, after winning) that he didn’t know what he was doing most of the time.
Then I made a comment.
“…meaning that we will not always be prepared for the next level, for anything. I was about to ask you how I could be prepared…”
To which he reinforced with a follow-up talk.
For a long time, I dangled between feeling the need to be prepared, trying to be prepared, being too tired or distracted to be prepared, rejecting being involved in projects because I felt unprepared. I knew about this Impostor Syndrome (found it long ago during one of my numerous habitual foraging). I know that ‘we’ can never be ready.
I guess I am ready now for the gauntlet. Accepting the truth that,
You’d never be prepared for the next level
Being in the impostor ‘limbo’ is a fast way to ‘be’
This is another truth. The fact that you are in the Impostor limbo or have the Impostor Syndrome, shows that you are not an impostor with an ulterior motive. It shows that you care about authenticity, and congruence, which is why you analyse and analyse. It also shows that you have the basic requirements at least.
What makes matters worse is when people become too nice with their words. They embellish the smallest of things. They make an Everest out of a speed bump. These plaudits bring pressure. You don’t want to go below the high standard that has been set. You don’t want to fall below their expectations. Sometimes you are high on the premature praise. You care about your ‘cred’, at the same time care about not hurting their ‘feelings’
Instead of being in a limbo,
- Get better, improve on what was applauded, so that your cred and ‘their’ feelings are not badly affected
- See early praise singers as your early adopters, your day one fans. Respond with love to them, because they are your evangelists. Do not deflect or dismiss their comments. Accept it with gratefulness.
- Do your best to sense pressure and dispel it. This can be done by not making big promises. Stay humble, and do not get into unnecessary competition.
- Use the saccharine feedback as encouragement, support as a form of motivation
“The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania, and a complete feeling of: “I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud” So you just try to ride on the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud”
Just dive in
Yes, dive in, try big impossible things. It is only when you try that you give yourself a chance to achieve big things. There will be challenges, there will be failures (knowing well how our culture looks down on people that fail, yeah I know Nigeria is not Israel). In the end, there is an equal opportunity for things to end up ‘good’ or bad. Who really knows?
When in hindsight, everything in a story looks perfectly orchestrated. Nobody really knows what they are doing. Don’t let success stories fool you.
Now back to my confession. I wouldn’t say I am an expert in curing Impostor Syndrome (aha! , symptoms of the syndrome persists). Whatever I have written is more like advising myself – a note to self.
I am an Impostor, and I will use it to my advantage!