Feeling like an impostor is something that those with depression are familiar with. We feel like we stand out like a sore thumb; for all the wrong reasons. It’s as though we just don’t fit it with other people; their ideals, their expectations, their perspectives, their abilities. Everyone seems cleverer, stronger, more beautiful, more deserving, more organised, more rational, more talented, more…everything good.
The very nature of depression is that it feeds on those thoughts. We do pretend we’re ‘fine’ and try to hide the pain we’re suffering which is a way of deceiving people into thinking we’re feeling better than we are.
When good things happen to us, we feel as though it’s a joke, a mistake. That it must come with a caveat. As though we’ve been on the receiving end of a big dose of luck. It was nothing to do with any skills, hard work, ability, we may have. Nope. Just luck. The ‘good thing’ just doesn’t reconcile with how we feel about ourselves.
We feel as though we’re lacking in some way, inadequate. That we just don’t match up. Other people are placed on a pedestal, and we’re waaaay down there, in the gutter somewhere. We feel undeserving of their love, attention, and kindness. The constant fear of being ‘found out’ that we’re not good enough. The nagging fear that when they find out the total truth about who we are, they’ll leave.
We crave acknowledgement yet, compliments feel insincere. They’re ‘just saying XYZ to be nice’. They can’t possibly mean it. Besides, we have 100,000,000,000,000,000 reasons we can name to counter the compliment anyway.
The trouble with feeling like an imposter is that it can be a vicious circle. We start adapting our behaviours to what we think other people expect of us. In turn, we’re not always being true to ourselves and that magnifies the imposter feelings. Because at that point, our actions are imposing on who we truly are.
Feeling like an imposter can sneak up on you. You might not be able to identify when they began. Combating those thoughts take time. It’s hard work being hyper-aware of every thought you’re having and then counterattacking that thought with another.
You will make mistakes. That’s a given. Making mistakes mean that you are trying, and that’s a good thing. Take responsibility for your mistakes, always, but don’t allow them to be a tool you use to beat yourself up with all darn day. They are lessons. They teach you what you might say, or do, differently next time. Mistakes allow us to grow and to learn. Without mistakes, we simply wouldn’t move forward.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas A. Edison, inventor of the light bulb
BUILD UP THE EVIDENCE AGAINST YOU BEING AN IMPOSTER
Become aware of your self-criticism. Challenge it as you would if a friend expressed the same doubts to you.
Sometimes that’s hard to do, so build up the evidence against you. Screenshot compliments and saved them to a folder. Record ALL your achievements. Make a compliment jar. These all act as tools to give credence to how fantastic you are. You might not be able to see that right now, but others can.
Don’t underestimate the sheer effort it takes to be motivated and to achieve when you’ve got depression lapping at your ankles.
GIVE YOURSELF THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT
You’re not perfect. Nobody is. Not your friends, not the people you look up to, nobody.
You are doing your best. That’s not in doubt. In fact, you’re probably bending and twisting trying to do better than your best. Those nagging voices that tell you that you’re not doing enough, are lying. You are doing enough. You are enough. Yup. As you are. Right now.
“I’m a greater believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it” – Thomas Jefferson