Imposter Syndrome: (official definition) A concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.”
Imposter Syndrome: (my definition) An inaccurate feeling of inadequacy and conviction that anything good perceived about you is not true. A fear that if others truly knew you they would consider you less-than & lackluster.
The other day I saw my phone light up with a notification. My face flushed. Someone had liked one of my tweets. You see, I don’t use twitter much, and when I do it is a collaboration of extremes. Between simplistic trackings of my boring day and random messy emotional tweets, I prefer to keep my Twitter with a following of just a few.
I laugh at myself because all of my tweets would probably make the top five of “Most annoying things people do on social media” from tweeting what I eat to being incredibly vague about struggles in life. But somehow the simplicity combined with the vague emotional venting is genuine and cathartic so I keep tweeting on occasion. I just don’t really want anyone to see – but I do- but I don’t. I am embarrassed of my processing. I am skeptical of my childish thoughts. I want to be heard, to matter, but I also want to hide.
So when my screen lit up I panicked because it was not one of my few accepted followers who took notice of a recent tweet. I immediately went and changed my account settings to private. Having a background in social media marketing I knew instantly that it was a business account that had used a key word search feature to find me. I was curious which keyword in one of my recent tweets triggered their interest so I looked.
Fraud? Why were they interested in tweets with the word fraud and why mine?
I assumed it was a mistake and they were some sort of company that helped victims deal with fraud and they were trying to bait me into their business, but I was bored and my curiosity persisted so I visited their account. I came to realize I was indeed the exact target audience they were going for.
The first tweet I read from their account asked, “Do you ever feel like a fraud? 2 ways to fight #impostersyndrome”
All of a sudden I realized that my recent messy ugly dumping of non-rhyming poetry on twitter was not just my own. It was the voice of many others like me who felt the same way. The things I embarrassingly tweeted and hid were also the thoughts and fears of many others.
I went back to read my slew of unattractive tweets regarding my feelings of fraud.
“You put a lid on it. Tie it shut. You hide it. You break it. Sweep it under a rug. But it doesn’t disappear with the trash.
You can’t walk away. You try and pray it away. Even in an abandoned ship it doesn’t sink.
Don’t talk to me about the elephant in the room. I have a herd of them in this room called life.
Shove them in a corner. Paint them against the wall.
I’m supposed to pretend that you don’t see them at all? That nobody sees them? I feel like a fraud.
How can I be what I want to be? Who I need to be – with this thorn in my flesh?
I want to look like her. Be like him. I’m embarrassed of my mess. Of my sin. Of me.
So I wrestle with the Spirit I talk to Jesus. He’s my saving grace, but I can’t fully believe it.”
So what does any of this have to do with parenting? What does my messy spewing of deep inward feelings have to do with raising children? Well if you are a parent, a young mom like me, I imagine you and I can relate in a very real way. Maybe you don’t write it out to be seen by the world on social media, but my guess is there are others who struggle with the fear of not being who we are supposed to be.
The pressure to be enough. To do enough. It is all too real. All the while knowing we are not enough we put ourselves up against the saintly moms/parents of the world. And we let it drag us down. We listen to those lies daily that create feelings of depression, failure, and what not. For some of us, if you are like me, they paralyze you. And you are so afraid of the shame you will feel if anyone else finds out who you really are. But we keep going. We keep stepping. Trying to maintain or at least create the perception that we are maintaining.
If you’re like me you battle lies daily. Some of mine look like this.
- “Your failures and temptations will keep you from raising your children to know Jesus.”
- “You have nothing good to offer- not to your husband, to your children, or others. God can use others but what really can you do with ugly mess you carry around?”
- “The kids are watching TV AGAIN? You are a lazy mother. Didn’t you see the pictures of Sarah on facebook teaching her kids how to grow a garden? You can’t even read a book to them before bedtime.”
- “If they really only knew who you were. What you deal with. They would count you out.”
As I continued to read some of the articles this twitter account had posted, I noted they had some good things to say about how to deal with this feeling of inadequacy. But there is a source far greater that can speak to this issue that so many of us face.
The truth is friends that we by ourselves are inadequate. We are incomplete. We are a mess.
“All of us have become like one who is unclean,
and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Isaiah 64:6)
Well doesn’t that make you just feel all better? No? Ah, but there is great news! God works the best in humility, in our weaknesses, he works in our mess.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” ( 2 Corinthians 12: 9,10)
Not only does He loves us where we are, His grace is evident in our reality, in our willingness to be transparent about our messes, about our imperfections. Hiding our sins, our missteps, because we are embarrassed or because we knew better than our mistakes, limits others access to seeing the light that He is in your life. And don’t we all so desperately need to see that light in one another? His work, your testimony matters to this community.
So my invitation to you friends, for all of us, is to bring our true selves with us to FMCparenting. Take off the cloak you wear that allows you to appear that you have everything together. Remove the mask that carries the pressure of being the perfect parent. Be beautifully you, transparently you, so that we can see the glory of God in your life and the great things that can be done exactly where you are at. As a parent, as a spouse, as you.