Have you ever felt like a fraud? Or, have you ever been in a meeting, relationship, or situation where you didn’t feel worthy? If so, honey – that’s imposter syndrome. And I battle is syndrome a LOT. In fact, the smartest people typically find themselves faced with imposter syndrome thoughts. According to Harvard Business Review, “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.”
I had imposter syndrome sneak up last week during my first (PAID) keynote speaking gig. I wasn’t nervous about telling my story yesterday. I know my story so well, and it’s mine – every joyful and sad component. Because joy and sadness can exist together with gratitude at the core. But nerves show up in other ways for me. Like, when I walked into this gorgeous country club that seemed too beautiful to be true.
Young Ashley appeared and said, “You don’t belong here.” Those insecurities of the past. The inner mean girl voice that says, “You’re an imposter – you don’t fit in with your loud voice, crazy hair, mismatched outfit, and tattoos.”
When that mean voice appears, my therapist has taught me to be kind and gentle to myself. So I walked into the bathroom and hid in a stall.
I said, “Thank you for the reminder that you’ve overcome a lot. What a gift to be in a place that you once thought you would never make it to seeing and experiencing.”
These women welcomed me with open arms and hearts. I watched them laugh and cry moments apart. Even after I was done speaking, I found myself questioning if I did a good enough job. Was I worthy of being paid? Did I speak to their hearts? Did I change just one life? Self-doubt is a monster. And one that I try to overcome often with thought re-framing techniques I’ve gained from therapy.
Well, guess what? I was worthy. I was helpful. I did change lives.
The event contact wrote to me and said, “I cannot tell you how many of the girls and the moms raved about you and your message. “Best speaker yet!!” “She was amazing.” “So nice to have someone who is real.” “You have a gift and am in awe of your authenticity!” It was so meaningful and deep. I think that it opened some doors to communication with the moms/daughters but also between friends. I cannot wait to read your book (and I DON’T READ! LOL).”
The next time you feel imposter syndrome sneaking up on you, re-frame your thoughts. Take those fearful thoughts and turn them into thoughts of gratitude.
The next morning, I woke up feeling proud and thankful. I pulled out my bday coffee mug from a friend and that said: “Actually, I can.”
I belong. You belong. Actually, we all can. Don’t let imposter syndrome win and keep you from chasing after your dreams.