Sometimes I feel like the most courageous woman in this world. I have no hesitations when I leave my house: I know exactly who I am and what I'm doing here. I have value. I add value.
And then other days, I feel like I'm role playing in my life. Just pretending to know my stuff and have it all together. On these days I suffer from full on Impostor Syndrome and would rather curl up in a ball than engage with someone looking to me for answers. Every question feels like an inquisition, every celebration of someone else's success, a reflection of my failure.
(I'm going to just take a pause right here to acknowledge that my experience is NOT unique and I would put money on it that most of the people who read this are going to nod their heads and say, "me too.")
There are so many parts of my life that I navigate effortlessly. I find it easy to connect with people and have an elephant memory for them all. I'm that creep that remembers everything about anyone I have ever had a conversation with. I'm besties with all the baristas at my local coffeeshop and can't go anywhere in my neighborhood - scratch that: anywhere in Mpls - without running into someone I know. I have a big heart and I love with abandon.
There are also parts of my life, parts of me that I really struggle with. You know the saying, "you are your own worst critic?" I major in self-criticism. I get an A++. If I ever actually overcame self-criticism, I would graduate with honors. I never know enough. I'm never smart enough. I'm never good enough.
The positive side of this characteristic is that I am always open to learning and constantly striving to do better. But I'm frozen in this space of "never enough" that (to use a concept from my newest shero, Brene Brown) gets between me and wholehearted living.
I'm trying to reframe. To actually live the message I want to leave on this world. One I want to model for the young people in my life...and for everyone else too. Because here's the sad truth: lacking self-confidence is the biggest creativity killer there is.
Consider all the greatness you've witnessed in your lifetime that would never have happened if the creator of it gave into self doubt. You can buy a ticket and fly anywhere in the world, for crying out loud. Imagine if the Wright brothers sat on their porch one day and talked themselves out of building an airplane because they hadn't gone to college or done it before. We would still be traveling by boat and railway.
Smaller acts of greatness need also be mentioned. I mean creating airplanes is pretty cool, but I can think of endless examples of day-to-day greatness that have impacted me much more personally and profoundly. The generosity of strangers (who frankly have other things to do), the patience of parents, the commitment of teachers who just will not give up on a student. What would we miss if our mentors and leaders were too afraid to share their little nuggets of magic with us?
And what would the world - be it the microcosm of your neighborhood or the world at large - miss out on if YOU didn't share your little nuggets of magic?
I've started thinking about my tombstone as of late, and what message it was I wanted to leave on the planet when I died. It's kinda morbid, I know, but it's really helped me get over some lingering body image junk I was getting tired of. When I felt down on my body, I would remind myself that I didn't want "she was thin" to be the memory I leave on this world. So why was I spending so much of my energy trying to be that?
What is actually important to me? Loving people up and helping them find ways of loving themselves too. Do I need to wear a size 0 to do that? Nope. I can love at any size.
So I'm re-writing some tombstones these days and in so doing letting go of some limiting beliefs about myself.
This whole being human thing is kinda hard, huh? Good thing we've got each other.