Reframing Imposter Snydrome


By Kirsten Hubbard

A friend recently accomplished the monumental achievement of ranking to brown belt in BJJ. BJJ is not a martial art that cycles through ranks quickly. Mastery is painfully slow, with a brown belt representing decades of work. I asked him how it felt.

Imposter syndrome, he said. He wasn’t good enough, didn’t deserve it, knew brown belts and wasn’t that guy.

I felt that to my bones. Just this week, I stumbled using the term “athlete” in my IG profile. “Is that legit?” I asked myself, tossing aside my weightlifting shoes for my running shoes.

Why do we have such angst about owning our ambition? I say it’s the physical & psychological manifestations of my favorite truth: words matter.

What we call ourselves matters. It took me years to step into “writer” and “entrepreneur.”

My trick for shaking off Imposter Syndrome is recognizing two reasons for feeling I don’t belong. Either I am surrounded by people whose lifestyle so repulse me, I have a physical reaction to it, or I am surrounded by those who I so respect and admire, I have a physical reaction to it.

If the former, I Get Out: take those who want to come, leave the trail for those who aren’t ready, but Get Out.

If the latter, I breath into the discomfort. It doesn’t matter that I’m not quite good enough, only that I in the right place to become so.

It isn’t about what you did yesterday to earn it or what you deserve. It’s about what you aspire to in the future. It’s speaking those aspirations into the universe, binding your actions to reflect their highest ideals. What would an athlete or a brown belt or an entrepreneur do? Not cheap motivational hashtags, but deeper, more nuanced callings. An athlete will demand fair and equitable play and opportunity. An entrepreneur will reflect upon the ethics of their innovations. A brown belt will patiently teach, understanding that owing ancient knowledge equates to a sacred responsibility to pass it along. Your ambition requires growth, and that’s not faking it. That’s OWNING it.

“Imposter Syndrome”, I say, should own itself as “Aspiration Disposition.”

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