Technology is stinking awesome. Google and I are best friends (in my head), the syncing abilities between my devices and vehicle are bad-ass, and music…music EVERYWHERE. This part of the journey is absolutely heaven to me. The other part, the social part…
Social media frustrates me. Social media intimidates me. Social media makes me feel like:
- I am not enough
- I haven’t done enough
- I suck as a mom
- I suck as a wife
- I suck as a friend
- I don’t do enough as a counselor
- I don’t exercise enough
- I should be wearing, buying, and trying make up. Apparently, lip gloss and random facial glitter (my go to when I’m trying to be cute) don’t count.
- And last but not least, I am not positive enough.
Yesterday, driving home from my husband’s softball game, my youngest and I both got caught up in the evening sky. The sun was setting. It was gorgeous. We both grabbed our mobile phones and began feverishly taking pictures, knowing one out of the ga-billion we take will look post worthy. That conversation led to painting.
My littlest said, “I am a horrible painter.”
“Wait, says who?” I replied. My husband nodded in agreement.
“Says the internet. Everyone on the internet can paint, but me.”
I was taken aback. But you guys know me, I have a line somewhere. I turned to face her from the passenger seat.
“You know, Babygirl,” I began. “Eleanor Roosevelt once said, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.”
She looked me dead in the eyes as if she understood, but was not convinced.
My hubby stepped in. “Sugar, that’s why we try. We can practice.”
She nodded in respectful agreement. But I could still tell she required much more convincing.
I went to bed last night trying to figure out a way to encourage her. I fell asleep without a solution.
Upon booting up my laptop to do my marketing stuff today, I realized, Oh Shit! I NOW have to deal with what my daughter brought to my awareness last night!
I hopped on twitter. First of all, my littlest, who is a teenager, had to review my very first few tweets. She was embarrassed about my use of hashtags. Anyway, upon logging in, I am inundated with tweets, so many tweets, tweets about positivity and how-to’s, ideas I’ve had and ideas I would have never thought of…SO. MANY. TWEETS.
I stopped. I could feel my impostor syndrome kicking in. You were a soldier and a techie. What do YOU have to say as a counselor? You took forever on that image and no one is even going to look at it, because, again, who the hell are you?
And my personal favorite, Ummm…Dear…You BARELY have your life together. So…how are you going to tell anyone when you are a steaming hot mess!?!
Yea, I know. Steaming. That isn’t very kind self-talk, I agree.
For those unaware, impostor syndrome or phenomenon is one of those painful experiences no one gets to witness because it is happening inside of you. You feel as though you do not deserve the position you are in, whether it be work, life, finances, etc. You feel that you didn’t really earn the situation, because somehow you really aren’t that good. You feel inadequate. I experience all of this, plus the absolute worst feeling of: what if everyone finds out I actually suck and pin me as a fraud?
OK, so a couple of things. First, impostor syndrome isn’t in the DSM-V (our current counselor bible for diagnostic impressions) because it’s an experience, not a disorder. Secondly, the discomfort that these feelings and beliefs cause us are there for a reason. I believe that discomfort is an opportunity to be curious. This is a chance to turn this obstacle to an opportunity.
As a perfectionist in recovery, this bites my bum every time.
I feel fraud-ish because I can easily guide others to their best selves, but often feel like I am always one step behind, or running into a wall – sometimes repeatedly. The more inadequate I feel, the more curious I guide myself to become. For those with tiny tots or at least remember when your kids were young: remember how curious our boogers were to the world? Weren’t they a trip? Question, after question, they’d ask anything with the goal of just asking. They just wanted to know and our parental answers fueled more questions. And then eventually, if possible, you pull another adult into it so you can take a break.
My point is, this is the curiosity I welcome into my internal dialogue.
What are these feelings? What are they about? Is there something I can learn here? How? Can I love myself through these feelings? Are these thoughts about myself based in reality? Do I need support?
In reality, I earned that master’s degree and each credential that followed. I earned each rank in the military, and I earned each promotion I received in the corporate world.
And what exactly would everyone find out that they haven’t already learned on the inter-webs?
Maybe it’s the fact that I don’t just market this perfectionist crap, I really do deal with this shit.
Impostor phenomenon and perfectionism are besties. If everything is perfect, then no one will find out I’m “actually” inadequate. That I lack competency somehow in things I truly have competency in. There was a time in my life where I truly believed that in order to be loved and accepted, I had to behave perfectly (whatever the hell that means), present to all perfectly and be an overachiever. That was the message I received very early on in life. Armed with my current awareness, I am able to identify when those mean-spirited messages are rearing their ugly heads in an attempt to trespass peace that letting go of perfectionism can only bring.
When that comparison bug and/or impostor experience hits, really ask yourself:
- Are the thoughts you are having about yourself accurate and true?
- Do you really want to be like so-and-so? What qualities or behaviors are you attracted to and why?
- What are you jealous of (if you have those feelings)? Why?
- What do you have the ability to change?
- How bad do you want that change?
- What are you willing to do to make that change happen?
- Are you trying to control something that is not meant to be controlled by you?
- Are you being patient, kind, and compassionate with yourself in this moment? If not, how can you incorporate some compassion towards yourself?
- Are you setting appropriate boundaries to lessen the overwhelming feeling you are experiencing?
Regardless of how you decide to get through these tough moments, I hope that it is healthy, kind, and helpful to you. It can be incredibly tough, but totally doable.
I’m with you, social media can be incredibly overwhelming, exhausting, and makes you feel exposed. But let’s just slow down a bit. We are all pretty smart in something, and we all have something interesting to say and share. We don’t have to be like others to accomplish this, and we must consider that all things take time. We just have to be fearlessly authentic.