The Impostor Syndrome: 3 Allies to Win Against Your Doubt

It was 9 o'clock Sunday morning at the Post-Race breakfast.

The thirteen racers who buckled (aka finished in 24 hours) might have had a quality five hours of sleep. Maybe.

Of the fifty three racers who began the course, most had far less. And then there was the competitor of extraordinary intestinal fortitude who came in just as the whole shebang was packing up after 11 AM (THIRTY ONE HOURS POST RACE START).

Needless to say I was exhausted.

It wasn't just driving down Friday to the Shenandoah Valley from my roost in Baltimore City, sleeping in strange places, eating unusual food or waking at bizarre hours. It was feeling the tight itch of being on call for people in particular need, scanning for trouble of a serious medical variety across a crowd of *hurting* but dedicated competitors, and generally cultivating an energy of Haven several days running [punny, hmmmm? har har].

In all it was glorious. And seriously depleting.

So it was with curiosity and an altogether unexpected energy that I watched Paul Jacobs, the First Finisher* get up in front of the other competitors, staff and volunteers as he reflected on the mental challenge of the Impostor Syndrome that accompanied him much of the race.

(*Sidenote: The Founder of the race argues that referring to folks as winners, or not, sends the wrong message; that everyone who finishes the race is a winner; and everything else is between you and the Mountain. I find I agree.)

Paul reflected on his gratitude for finishing, the enduring support of his family and friends, and the particularly tricky mental game of ultra running. He was on a quest to find his edge, he said, and the nature of the beast was that he was always moving. But, he always wanted to sit with the victory and claim it for what it was. An amazing accomplishment. 

You see Paul, the guy that finished the 100 Miler Race four hours before his nearest competitor was reminding everyone to slow down and really own their awesome.

After spending nearly seventeen hours the day prior being puzzled at his imminent accomplishment. Now THIS was leadership I could get behind. 

So I'm taking a page from one "Woh-Mama" fast one each, Mr. Paul Jacobs, that jammed, nay SMOKED through the Old Dominion 100 Mile Race at an average of 10 minute miles. And I'm offering you three allies in the fight against your doubt.

Because if he has trouble believing in his brilliance, well, none of us should be ashamed about any doubts that well up. Its just that simple.

Ally #1 - Celebrate

Fuck the social sauce. Rest on your laurels. Nay. Glory in them. Hang on them as if you've had an overabundance of sangria and they are pool noodles propping you up.

Western society has sneakily subbed overachieving for self-care at nearly every turn. So rather than ask, "What would feel great right now?" and trusting the response, we deftly maneuver to the next item on our To Do List, like a frog manically hopping between lily pads, after realizing they are croc noses.

Fuck that. You deserve to revel. This is not a Hollywood blockbuster where the relaxing protagonist gets submarined by an unholy monster. In our natural state rest is religion. Get with the Celebration, Sleep and Self-Love program.

Ally #2 - Action breeds clarity

You are at your best when you are following your feel good. In your craft. In your body. Joyfully connecting with the people you love.

When you give yourself permission to operate at the 65-80% level, as opposed to the Prism (Prison?) of Perfection you unlock all sorts of resources including the tiny chain of evidence that confirms - You Are Really Good At This Shit*.

*It could be Zumba. It could be Christian Science. It Matters NOT. You have natural talent and ever-growing expertise in your groove. 

(Go on, tell me where I'm wrong. I DARE YOU)

Keep taking those steps like a champ, and stay in the present moment to get those nuggets of self-awareness gold.

Ally #3 - Let Your Desire Take Your Breath Away

In a world littered with instant gratification, separation anxiety and other traumas of the generally first world kind, leaning in to your Desire and getting crystal clear on what you don't have is/are BALLS/OVARIES Sets of the Copper Kind.

We hold back.

We minimize.

We huffle.

We discount.

Anything but powerfully, overtly claiming what we thirst for. Anything but shouting our yearning from the rooftops, lest we be made a fool of for stretching, reaching, and not attaining it.

To this my Dear Ones, I say, Hell-to-the-No.

When we hold ourselves back like Wallflowers-At-Prom we subject ourselves to the worst form of tyranny. We dictate a degree of submission to the social set, but also a containment from life that is completely unsustainable and wildly irresponsible. Take a moment to hear the voice:

"Don't go too crazy."
"Don't get too involved."
"Don't get your hopes up."
"Stay realistic."

The goal is kind, a protective bubble of sorts, but all it really does it wind up removing us from the real game of life, including its trials, tribulations, and victories.  

As the old commercial went, You've got to play it to win. And Starhearts, my odds are on you.

With Love and Light from Mythical HQ,

Steph