the winter blog

Imposter Syndrome: A Fraud Among Us

psychology, mind, thoughts

I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’

Maya Angelou

I struggle with Imposter Syndrome. I first wrote about it back in January. You can read it here: Imposter Syndrome and other bad days. No matter how confident I am in my abilities and my purpose, I still worry constantly that I’m going to be “found out.” The more the blog grows, the more that little voice in my head tells me I can’t do it. I can’t handle it. I won’t be able to maintain it.

I already know that voice isn’t mine. It still sounds like me, but I know that I didn’t put it there. That knowledge helps me fight it. But it’s on high right now. I’ll tell you why, but first, lets recap Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is the internal experience of not believing in yourself, your abilities, or your ideas. You doubt your talents, skills, and achievements. It often comes with a deep fear of being “found out,” exposed as the fraud that you believe yourself to be. Any accomplishments or achievements are chalked up to “good luck,” not talent, skill or hard work.

Imposter Syndrome can have many causes, including your family history and personality type. There are different kinds of Imposter Syndrome:

  • Perfectionism: These people are generally never satisfied with themselves or their work. Their focus stays largely on their shortfalls and mistakes and rarely on their successes.
  • Overcompensating: Feelings of inadequacy lead to overcompensation in the form of pushing one’s self to work harder and harder.
  • Undervaluing Expertise: Many times, these folks want to learn more and more, never satisfied with their own understanding. No matter their level of skill, they are never content with their level of expertise.
  • Unattainable goals: Setting unattainable goals and then being crushed when you don’t acheive them on the first try.
  • The loner: Often works alone because they think they value hinges on their production; accepting help would devalue them as a person. Asking for help is often seen as a failure or weakness.
fraud, anonymous, hacker
imposter syndrome

I’m still learning how to battle my Imposter Syndrome. I talk about it therapy often and have it on my list to talk about during my next appointment. That said, I’ve been learning new coping skills and I’ve been working hard at letting the voice know that I hear it, but I’m not taking it to heart anymore.

A few of the things that have helped me, and are helping me, are as follows:

  • Acknowledging the thoughts and allowing them to flow in and then right back out. Question them…are they even rational?
  • Taking a realistic inventory of the situation. Do the thoughts even have any truth to them? Assess your abilities and remember what you’re capable of.
  • Stop comparing. This is a big one for me. Once I stopped comparing myself to other people, it allowed me to start focusing on how I can be successful just by being myself.
  • Do not, under any circumstances, listen to your Imposter Syndrome. Do not let it win and do not let it hold you back. It’s tricky. It can sound rational. It feeds you excuses that actually make sense. Don’t listen to it.
  • Keeping goals realistic. Setting yourself up for success does not include setting goals that you’ll never be able to obtain.

Put Me In Coach

As many of you already know, there have been many big changes and events at The Winter Of My Discontent recently. After a 2-month break, I debuted a printables library that I’m still working on and we currently have our first e-course in beta. I plan to start offering more courses, more often, and I am currently working on the next course to teach people the tools they need to boost their self-esteem, even with a mental illness.

In the last few weeks, though, I’ve made another big decision. This Friday, I will start classes to become a certified life coach. I plan to specialize in confidence, self-esteem, and finding purpose in life. These 3 things have played such a huge role in not only my struggles themselves, but also my healing.

For most of my life, I hated myself. I didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin and I didn’t trust or believe in myself. My self-esteem was always at rock bottom and my self-confidence was only a little bit above that. This low level of esteem for myself made it possible for bad people to take advantage of my vulnerabilities. It allowed fear to hold me back from every becoming successful at anything.

In 2014 my life fell apart. Something happened that made me question everything; my sanity, the intentions of the people around me, my ability to trust myself to vet the people that I allow into my life. My self-esteem sank even lower than I thought possible. I no longer knew or understood myself. I had no idea what I stood for.

risk, balance, tightrope

My sense of self shot and my mental illnesses at their worst, I knew things had to change or I wouldn’t survive. I started the slow process of clawing my way out of the deep abyss that I had fallen into. I starting getting serious about my therapy and eventually got my diagnosis. I started to feel better and I started to feel something else…anger for how I had been treated, even during the worst of my illness. Then I realized: I didn’t deserve to be treated that way.

Over the course of 7 years, through therapy and hard self-reflection, I’ve found myself again. I found the power and the energy inside myself. I feel stronger than I’ve ever felt in my life. I feel secure in my purpose on this rock. I know who I am and who I want to be. Most importantly, though, I love myself. I really love myself and that has allowed me to also forgive myself and be kind to me.

The more I get reacquainted with myself, the more I realize that I’m a pretty cool human. I’m kind, funny, and more than capable. There is talent in my writing, passed down to me from my grandmother and then my dad. I’m smarter than the average bear. I still see my flaws and I still have a lot of work to do, but I’m much more compassionate toward them. I’m healing and the more I heal, the more I feel better about who I am.

Now I want to help other people love themselves as well. We all deserve to love and understand ourselves just as we are.

Imposter! (points finger at self)

Then here comes Imposter Syndrome. It started first when I was creating the first e-course. “Who on EARTH would pay money to be taught by you,” my brain would say, “You’re an amateur and you’re going to look like an amateur. This will fail with a certainty.” I pushed on. My course is in beta and still that voice, “It’s stupid and they’re all going to know it.”

Then, I decided I wanted to get into coaching. Here’s the thing. I’ve done my research. So. Much. Research. I feel really strongly that this is something I think I could be really good at and could be really passionate about. I want The Winter Of My Discontent to help people. I want to help people. As many people as I possibly can in as many ways as I can find. I think coaching is the next step in my progression towards my end goals.

But this is a fairly new conviction, so I’m feeling unsure of it. Imposter Syndrome has seized on the opportunity. It tells me that I can’t do this. Even if I manage to learn all that I need to learn (my brain says there’s no way I can absorb it all), then I have to start finding clients, building a business. “What are you doing?!? You know nothing about running a business.” I’m terrible at marketing and Imposter Syndrome reminds me of that daily.

fear, hide, responsibility

Needless to say, I feel very uncomfortable with the new and exciting things that I have going on. That said, it makes me feel more comfortable here on the blog. No matter what, this blog is my heart’s blood. It’s my passion. Helping people, changing lives, even. Connecting with you and getting to know you. It has been the most rewarding part of my recovery.

For the last week, I’ve bounced violently back and forth between excitement and certainty, imagining myself in my new role, and downright depression and doubt, fear taking the wheel. I suspect this won’t be going away any time soon; in my hours of research, I’ve read that Imposter Syndrome is really common among even the most successful coaches. All I can really do is to keep pushing through it.

At the end of the day, I’m not going to let Imposter Syndrome hold me back. I know that even though it sounds like my voice, it started out as someone else’s and I won’t let all those people win. I deserve good things. I deserve success. If I can share that success with as many of you as I can, then that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Imposter Syndrome be damned!

So yeah…I dropped some big news in there. I’m going to coaching school! In 3 days! Only 60 hours stands between me and the next phase in this journey. I’m very excited to be able to share it with you!

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Love and light. Keep fighting the good fight! 💜💜

Amber Corinne

Writing about living with ADHD and mental illness and my journey down a thriving path forward. Breaking stigmas and creating community, one post at a time.

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11 Comments

    1. Oh yes!! Uncertainty throws me off kilter every time!! I hate losing that control of knowing what will happen next. That doubt wriggles in there every time!!

  1. I totally get it. Right there with you. I’ve even warned my boss that I know I’m an imposter and one day “they” wi find out. She brushed me off and reminded me of my achievements but that doesn’t make the least bit of difference.

    1. Oh yes…I just had a meeting like this last week. I tried to voice my concern that I would no longer be able to perform at an acceptable level and her response was to tell me about all the times I’ve risen to meet a challenge. I appreciate it, it does not help.

  2. You are an inspiring, courageous and super-smart person. You sound like the “real thing” to me. I don’t get one whiff of Imposter from you. Keep going!!!

  3. This is truly inspiring! I would say this post has lot to learn those who are dealing with imposter syndrome! Secondly, your approach towards the struggle is indeed courageous for which a strong mindset is required! Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

      1. Pleasure! To be honest, I’ve never experienced it because what I believe is, imposter syndrome takes place when we’ve done a lot over the life and our thoughts or feelings stays dissatisfied which perhaps could lead to imposter syndrome but to me, I get satisfied with even my single effort and I believe it’s a healthy way of life. I agree, it’s common in creative field but you see after all our mindset plays a role here, by underestimating our efforts!

  4. Imposter syndrome is the worst! I think it hits creative types especially hard because it’s impossible to judge whether the quality of something creative is “good” on a black and white scale. It’s more subjective, and whoever said “you’re your own worst critic” wasn’t kidding. Thank you for shining a light on this! And I’m so excited for you to be on this coaching journey!

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