by: Hannah Dearth
I remember when we had our first baby, left the hospital, and got home only to ask ourselves... “Who let us leave with this tiny person?”. I remember thinking that all of the books and all of the advice from loved ones could not compare to the reality of caring for a little person that depended on all of me all of the time. I also remember thinking when people told me how great we were doing, how smart he was, how fun something we did together looked... when will they find me out? When will my cover be blown? When will they realize that I am actually sort of winging it, and that I don’t know what I’m doing a good portion of the time? I’m not worthy of the compliments and surely not all of that praise.
I’ve felt this in other areas of my life too. For example, I have felt this in my marriage when people tell us how cute we are, or in my job when I was recognized for my hard work, or at church when asked to be involved in a bigger way... all I could think was... I am fooling them all.
It wasn’t because I was lying or being deceitful ...or anything genuinely other than myself for that matter. It was because when I imagined myself as all of those wonderful things people said to me, I imagined my confidence would be huge. I imagined other parts of my life being different in terms of status or comparison to others, and sometimes I frankly just thought of all of the other times I fell short in relation to what they said. I thought all of that would be something that should “cancel out” the value others placed on me or the way I was portrayed even to myself. I often think things like...they think I can do it all, but they don’t know that I am seven loads of laundry behind. They said I’m such a sweet momma last night, but I was irritable most of this morning with my toddler from the baby not sleeping. My husband and I just had a major disagreement for the third day in a row. I’m way behind on my reading for Bible study and I am pretty sure I said most of a curse word in front of my kids when I shut my finger in the door while running late for pre-school drop off.
I learned about this feeling in a class once. It actually has a name. This is called Imposter Syndrome. The idea is that you worry people will see you as a “fraud”. You are likely doubting yourself and thus doubting others perception of you when you feel it is too positive or undeserved.
I think, for me, there is also a “grass is always greener” mentality built in too. If I can just get to this next phase of parenting, I know I’ll feel more confident because that’s my strength. When I hit this accomplishment at work, then I’ll feel like I really deserve it. “If I can just...” There’s always one more thing I want to get to. One more accomplishment or phase in my life that will make me feel like this title “fits” , like I can receive the compliments and really feel like I “belong” in this role. Right? Wrong.
I have been so wrong, because when I get to that next phase... life is still life and I am still me. Life will still have hardships and difficulty and my feelings about myself are something that have to change from the inside out, not the other way around.
Let me tell you something. You aren’t an undercover mother, or wife, or colleague, or Christian etc. This is your life that God have you. You deserve to be here. You’re doing great, so take the praise sometimes. I know it is hard, but living in this space of feeling inadequate to undeserving makes it hard to be present. No one is perfect. Keep showing up how you are. Life’s hard, but just because you gave a raw and honest side of your humanity (how dare you ever be tired?!), doesn’t mean you aren’t where you’re supposed to be or that you aren’t wonderful at it!
There’s no imposter here.