Stacy Towles is an incredibly talented woman and entrepreneur. She has worked in non-profits, the tech industry and most recently has dived into the wide world of veganism. Have a listen as she talks about her journey from the corporate life to following her dreams and becoming a chef.
I initially saw this post representing some form of expertise, citing intellectual science papers and well known psychologist. However, I think we have all had enough of the over complication of this phenomenon. We hear the words a lot these days, even though the term was coined well over 40 years ago by mental health practitioners – it comes up almost everyday like it was introduced a short time ago. Impostor Syndrome has everything to do with self and what’s happening on the inside. Or is it really that simple?
Arguably, the conditions in which this particular syndrome develops in a human being is spread wide across the spectrum. Therefore, making it damn near impossible for someone to quickly identify the simple fact that they may have feelings around being undeserving of the success they experience. These ideas lead me to share some personal feelings on what that looks like and how I navigate that uncomfortable space.
For such a long time I let people and circumstances decide what I was capable of doing. I’m not entirely sure how I molded my thinking, but I’m sure it started in the 4th grade. Being ranked against school mates, meaningless testing, introduction of puberty, the divide of the ‘who’s who’ on the playground that has now become a platform for observing differences; really I can go on. All of these things have to do with a lovely feeling of confidence.
I was never short of extracurriculars on the schedule. Band, volleyball, cheerleading, art and dance we’re apart of my life for over a decade. I loved being a part of them but sometimes, it was a bit hard. I’m a firm believer that representation matters, when we don’t see a lot of people that look like us, or aren’t accepted by many people that meet those same qualifications – things sometimes feel a little bit lonely. Confidence in these instances, lacks a bit. Sometimes it’s over compensated with a false confidence leading people to believe you’re fine when really, you need the ear of someone who understands your challenges and who holds your hand through them.
This is where college got fun. All that life experience boosted me, my connections with people and new ideas were forming and I was really excited about them. I found what I loved most in this phase of my life – psychology, philanthropy, journalism and business. I honestly thought to myself – “This is impossible, no one likes all of these things.” I had a passion for them that conflicted with the model of 1 major, 1 minor or at most a double major. I convinced myself that my goals were unrealistic and therefore I was confused and lost. I gave up here.
I would love to write fast forward here, but there is too much juice so I’ll keep it short. A career choice I would learn later to be not at all in line with any of my loves, a marriage to my best friend, some devastating life events; all lead me back to face myself and inspired me to live wholly and outright. I started emerging myself in all my true loves again in the name of self-care; psychology, philanthropy, journalism and business. Reading books, discovering new ways to make myself happy, meeting new people, conversing and sharing common interest. I, in short was developing in all areas I held near and dear. The time came where Isabel and I were discussing what we wanted from life again and then came Blooming Dreamers. From there we developed relationships and aligned ourselves with peers and mentors who were in these same fields. Without saying it, we were molding our expertise.
Reality check; how in the world can I look at myself as someone suffering from impostor syndrome when I am doing all of the things it would take for me to become well versed in becoming an expert? Maybe it’s the social media culture we live in or the performance appraisal hysteria we face around this time of year. Either way we were raised to seek out validation. Some of us I might even reach to say, I heard the words impostor syndrome and made up an excuse as to why we just weren’t doing well in life. Let us not fall victim to the placebo effect, or read our ways out of following our dreams.
My goal is to always be constructive and productive. To read up on things that will educate me in all my endeavors. To reach out and embrace new experiences. To live like this is my shot and I’m going for it. In order for me or any of you to move through paralysis, we have to reframe our thought processes by finding new ways to approach challenges. Finding circles that support my dreams and goals has been absolutely crucial in showing me that anything is possible.
If you want more fascinating info in an extremely tasteful and informative perspective, check out Matt O’ Keefe’s take here:
With that, I wish us all the best success and I cannot wait to hear your stories of how you conquered your fears of success.
I’ve noticed something. Women are celebrating eachother more and more these days. I like it. Coming from an adolescent youth where I had plenty of poorly managed friendships and not a whole lot of trust in general, I’m very happy to be a part of a community that is driven by supporting one another.
Being around creatives is magical. The conversations are full of healing and powerful language. I can’t really recall a time in my life where I have felt so inspired to share and embrace others which such vulnerability. For a larger part of my life I hid how much I loved all things art.
That only lead me to a place where I didn’t know who I was anymore. I was trapped inside this body looking to others for validation, for permission to move. I thank those individuals. Without them, I wouldn’t have found my way back to the person I was always meant to be. Me.
I am not my trauma. I am not my pain.
I am all that I choose to be.
I lift that woman up and wish her the absolute best life. Because after all it takes a hell of a person to bask in creativity and make something beautiful to share with the world. Here’s to the makers, artist, writers, painters, musicians and more – I dedicate this poem to you.
What does my love look like?
Is it safe? Is it warm?
The reflection of it sometimes feels cold like the surface it beams from.
Realizing the story of my mystery all of a sudden, is not mine.
Strangers have played a role in giving me a tale. Desperately, I held it. Not even knowing what of it.
Where do I find my story? The one written just for me?
Chasing it down like the shadows chase the sunset. Stretched and dark, fading into the night.
Who do I confide in, about the way that I love?
My love story is abandoned and hiding from the light.
Until the steady beat of my yearning heart; is my favorite song.
Until I no longer feel shushed by the thoughts of being wronged.
Until I sing my praises with notes of joy.
This indescribable emotion is an old abandoned cabin, blanketed by the tallest towering trees.
Hope lurks in desperate need, to find it’s way in.
It seeps through the branches and begins to break through, rejoicing in celebration.
Light finally emerges.
Take extra care.
Build with grace and restore in faith.
My story is not mine until I address my HERstory.
– Akilah Oni
I say that. A lot. It’s something I firmly believe in. Especially as a freelancer/maker/artist/creative or title of your choosing, those professions don’t always come with a built in community or set group of friends like elementary school did. In my own experience as a hypersensitive extrovert (I may have made that up), I love to be around people, building relationships, teaching each other things, growing and struggling together.
One thing I’ve learned is the struggle is real when your network is stunted. Sure your friends and family are supportive and rooting for you to succeed but do they really get it? Do they understand what you’re trying to do with your art, your vision, what drives you? It’s ok if they don’t but you can’t hold it against them. You know why?
Because sharing is caring. Have you actually taken the time to share your passion with the people you interact with daily? Does the girl who serves you coffee everyday at your favorite coffee shop know you started a non-profit for homeless teens? Does your brother know that you just created an app that helps people organize their lives? Does your mom know that you want to make custom made fanny packs for a living? Let’s flip it. What happens when you witness someone speak about something their passionate about? Their eyes light up, their speech speeds up and you as a listener are captivated by their excitement to share. The feeling is contagious even if you never experienced what they’re talking about. Do yourself a favor and embody that energy. Tell everyone, even your cat, how passionate you are about whatever it is and I promise you positive results within yourself. Don’t feel too confident about speaking your passion into existence? You know what to do:
Fake it til you make it! We’ve all heard it before but how many of us practice it? When I graduated with a MFA in Photography back in 2014, the first few months of conversations I had while meeting new people felt weird. They’d ask, “so what do you do?” and I’d stumble on my words and say, “well I’m…uh…a photographerrrrr….” with a few more long, indecisive pauses sprinkled in. I mean yes, on paper, I am a Master of Photography. But at that point in my infantile career, I was more comfortable saying I worked at Peets Coffee than declaring to the world that I followed my passion, studied and acquired skills and got really good at something. It’s all so surreal until you speak it into existence. Even the “impossible” stuff.
Am I an artist? Yes. Am I making a living as an artist? Well that doesn’t pay the student loan debt but everything I do is infused with my artistry so at the end of the day I still feel confident and comfortable in identifying as an artist. I’m hoping to one day be living proof that if you do what you love, the money will come. So what am I saying to you? Carve your own path. Trust me, it’s doable. Hard. Unpredictable. But the only person that can make shit happen for you is you. Sure there are Threshold Guardians but it’s up to you to keep knocking down those barriers until you feel 100% you 100% of the time.
Is that a tall order? If so, hang in there. When you feel like you’re pushing a boulder uphill, on one leg, blind, in the snow, with no shoes on…hold up, I got carried away…so, blind and forgot why you’re even doing this, remember that there are so many fucking people by your side, being your other leg, smoothing out the path uphill, setting up a pulley system to get that boulder uphill faster of just whispering in your ear every 5 minutes that you can do it.
If you want to know where I am in my journey, I’m currently carving my own path. I have no idea what’s ahead but if I keep at it, I know it will be made for me, just how I like it and laid out so others can follow if they so choose. Moral of the story is we’re all in this together folks (remember it started with community) so drop the spotlight syndrome, speak your truth and live your passion to the fullest!!
Do you have a similar experience to share? Or something totally different and you want to start a discussion? Feel free to leave a comment below 🙂
P.S. (Thank you to all the meme-makers out there, you know who you are. You’re the best. Sorry I didn’t give each one of you credit.)