Feeling like an imposter

​I’ve got to be honest.

I started thinking about writing my new book, Empathy Every Day, over a year ago.

The first time I actually shared the idea with someone, I was quick to point out:

But, I don’t want to be an empathy expert. I feel like every time I would mess up and act without empathy, people would look at me as a hypocrite.

Throughout the past year, I’ve thought more about empathy than I ever have in my life. Mostly, because of how much empathy people showed me and my family going through the loss of my brother.

And because I’m constantly thinking about empathy, I’m also seeing how many times I fail to act with compassion or have empathy in certain situations.

I’ve felt like a fraud. An imposter, over and over.

Instead of other people looking at me as a hypocrite, I’ve been looking at myself as a hypocrite.

This past weekend, those thoughts of being an imposter were at an all-time high. And, when I shared the Kickstarter project with all of you, I actually wanted to go crawl in a hole and hide.

This isn’t something new for me, and it isn’t something new for many folks that are trying to share something with the world.

It’s “The Imposter Syndrome” and let me tell you, it is real. From the article “5 Different Types of Imposter Syndrome (and 5 Ways to Battle Each One)“:

This psychological phenomenon, known as imposter syndrome, reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.

In short, it’s a hot mess of harmfulness. It can also take various forms, depending on a person’s background, personality, and circumstances. If you’re familiar with the feeling of waiting for those around you to “find you out,” it might be helpful to consider what type of imposter you are so you can problem-solve accordingly.

Expert on the subject, Dr. Valerie Young, has categorized it into subgroups: the Perfectionist, the Superwoman/man, the Natural Genius, the Soloist, and the Expert.

As I began to learn more about the imposter syndrome, it became clear that I was dealing with the expert subgroup which can be categorized as the following:

Experts measure their competence based on “what” and “how much” they know or can do. Believing they will never know enough, they fear being exposed as inexperienced or unknowledgeable.

    • Do you shy away from applying to job postings unless you meet every single educational requirement?
    • Are you constantly seeking out trainings or certifications because you think you need to improve your skills in order to succeed?
    • Even if you’ve been in your role for some time, can you relate to feeling like you still don’t know “enough?”
    • Do you shudder when someone says you’re an expert?

I was definitely shuddering at the idea of being an empathy expert. I read every book I could on the topic, listened to podcast interviews with other experts, and bookmarked hundreds of articles.

Still, throughout this entire process of feeling like an imposter, I was missing the point.

The reason I wanted to learn about empathy and work with my kids on being more empathetic, is that I see it as something I need to improve.

It’s something I need to continue to get better at each day. It’s something I’m hoping my kids are better at than me right now in their lives, and as they grow older.

That was the point of writing a book that was filled with stories about empathy. Stories that can share perspective and insight into our lives.

And after talking to a number of people about my imposter syndrome, maybe you feel the same way sometimes.

That’s ok.

But, don’t let it stop you from sharing your voice with the world.

Don’t let it stop you from taking a risk, trying something new, and working to get better every day.

There are so many people who want to support you and so many people that need your support.

Thanks for all your support,

AJ

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