Being a poser

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Behind every picture of me working out on Instagram lies a girl who often can’t for the life of her believe that people consider her a health and fitness inspiration.

So. Last week’s post was sort of my big blog “coming out.” I’d had the site up and running for a bit but I didn’t want to share it until I had it looking and feeling like I wanted, and felt like I was ready. So I wrote a post, then shared the picture and link on my personal Instagram and Facebook accounts, clicked “share,” and took a deep breath.

Response was both humbling and overwhelming. I am incredibly grateful for all of you who took the time to read, like and comment. I’ve even received a couple of inquiries wanting to know more about what I did/how I did it/what I’m doing (if you’re one of those people and I haven’t replied yet – don’t be mad, I will I swear!).

I’ll be honest – those inquiries scare the crap out of me. They make me want to yell and scream to the those who made them, and the world at large: “Wait a minute! Stop! Hold the phone! Call it off. I’m a fake. I actually have no idea what I’m doing. You’ve got the wrong girl.” …I could go on.

If you’re like me, and a large portion of the female population, I’m guessing you can relate. You’ve probably experienced the sensation of what has become known as “Impostor Syndrome,” at one time or another.

Never heard of it? Impostor Syndrome is the name given to the feelings I’ve described above: like you’re a fake, a fraud, a phoney, like you somehow don’t deserve or shouldn’t be in the position that you are; and that sooner or later someone is bound to find out.

Sound familiar? Personally, I have no problem telling you how awesome everyone else in my life is. I will praise my friends, family or coworkers, give glowing social media shoutouts to everyone else…but I hesitate to trumpet my own awesomeness, because, let’s be honest: I’m not really that awesome right?

I’m not special. I’m not an expert. Heck, I’m lucky if I can do my laundry and get it folded and put away within the same week (true story)…why would you want my advice on anything?

Seven-plus years into my career, I still feel this way at work. I’m waiting for someone to find out that I have no business being there. And I feel like a HUGE impostor when people ask me for weight-loss/healthy living advice (HELLO! I’m the fat kid who hates gym class. Sure, maybe I look good now, but it’s some sort of fluke. I’m going to trip up and fail and go back to that identity sooner or later, so why bother listening to me now?).

Blogging is a great form of therapy. When I type out the thoughts in my head, I realize how ridiculous they sound. But what do I about it? How do I, and you, and all the other “imposters” out there own up to our own awesomeness and stop thinking we’re a bunch of fakes?

I’m (obviously) not there yet, but I have a few thoughts…

  1. Be as kind to yourself as you would to your friends. Would you tell a friend who struggled with self image and relationship with food that because she took two days off from tracking food intake and counting macros and had some fun with friends that obviously she was on her way to gaining back a bunch of weight, and that she shouldn’t be trusted to offer weight loss advice to anyone ever? Yeah. Didn’t think so. Extend some grace to yourself. Recognize those irrational fear-based rabbit holes for what they are and move on.
  2. Think about how far you’ve come. When you’re scared you’re failing and everyone is about to find out, think about something awesome you did. Bonus points if it’s something “old you” wouldn’t have done. For me it was enjoying weekend brunch with a friend, picking waffles over some of the healthier options, but then realizing I didn’t even want the whole thing, leaving part of it on my plate, and not having it be a big deal.  Old me would either have picked something “healthy” I didn’t really want and not really enjoyed it, or picked something “bad,” eaten it all and felt guilty. I’m learning now that middle ground is a really great place to be.
  3. Get away from all or nothing thinking. This relates to my example above. I’m a very black and white, all or nothing thinker. Problem is, when you think this way, small mistakes or minor slip-ups become a way bigger deal than they have to be, and pretty soon you’re in those rabbit holes we were just talking about, sitting in the shadows of shame, waiting for the world to uncover you for the fraud you really are. It doesn’t have to be that way! Look at those mistakes as growth opportunities. Better still, tell others about them. Chances are, they’ll love you even more. My heroes? The relatable ones with failings not unlike my own.
  4. Stop apologizing and own your greatness. This one is huge, and probably the hardest for me. It involves eliminating a lot of my favourite crutch words, those qualifiers like but or just. …as in, “Sure, I’ll help you out, but I’m no expert.” Or “yeah, here’s what I did, but that’s just me.” Stop it. Stop talking yourself down. Stop selling yourself short of what you are and what you can do. You don’t have to turn into some over-confident cheerleader salesperson. Just be honest about yourself and your abilities. Let others decide how they want to qualify you (hint: it’s probably a lot nicer than the words you’d use anyway).

Honesty time: I still feel like a poser. Should I even publish this post? After all, it’s just me, what do I   …Sorry, old habits die hard. I’m a big believer of “fake it ’till you make it.” I might not always believe in my own awesomeness, but I think I’ll start reviewing that list I made and acting like I do.

What’s the worst that could happen? I might just buy into my own hype…

8 thoughts on “Being a poser

  1. This is great Hilary. I am very much the same in my creative ventures and with my job/training. I actually have a system set up with Janet where upon receiving a complement we remind each other that “thank you” is the right response rather than “thanks, but …”. We live in a culture where we are raised to believe that we need things or approval to be accepted and it makes it such a struggle to see your true identity and the journey you will take in its pursuit. We need to remember that we are all amazing for so many reasons and others are starting to take notice (not that anyones approval but your own is needed).

    This post put a smile on my face today and makes me feel really connected to the community at Alchemy – thanks!

    Like

  2. I feel like all 4 of your ending conclusions/headings could be a manta for life. Thanks for the positive self talk:)

    Like

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