Today I am well dressed, mostly content, munching on a homemade blueberry pop tart. And I feel like the biggest imposter you ever did see.
It’s a feeling that stops by for a visit every now and then, more frequently than I’d like, especially in the past few years. It becomes more typical. I now expect to feel it on any day, at any time.
See, I live life the way any young person in my generation would. I travel, I work, I sleep, I hang out, I get coffee, I make plans, I make friends, I buy clothes, I call my family, I go to birthday parties, I watch Netflix, I brush my teeth, I scroll through social media, I take out the trash, I read books, I do my laundry, I spend more money than I should, I listen to good music, I buy groceries, I try to love well.
And, in the midst of all the typicality of life as a girl in her mid-twenties, I try to have a relationship with someone I can’t see yet have very good reason to believe, trust in, and love.
With every necessary trip to the store, every laundry day, every phone call, every planned outfit, every date night, every cup of tea, and every kiss goodnight, all of the smallest moments that make up life, I feel it. The only way I know to describe it, is a very deep longing in the darkest places of my heart that I’m not even aware of – to know Him, to love Him, and to be loved by Him. Yet with this longing also comes a nagging sense of not being enough, of not living up to what I should, of not being all I can – and of being an imposter.
Not only do I feel like an imposter in my own heart — I also feel like an imposter to the world.
I go out in public, and feel it when I step through the door of the office, or the store, or the café, or the friend’s home.
“You’re not really who everyone thinks you are.
You’re not the person you appear to be.
What are you going to do when everyone finds out who you really are?”
I have always struggled to be myself. There are few places where I can truly let myself be me. There are few places I don’t feel as if I am not trying on the inside. I try. I exhaust myself trying.
Try what? What am I trying? What am I trying to do?
The answer is that I really don’t know. I haven’t the slightest clue what my inner self is involuntarily reaching toward every time I am faced with showing people who I am.
And this bothers me. It bothers me because I shouldn’t even be trying. There is nothing I have to prove to anyone. Yet still, I try.
I long for a day I get to walk through a door, and not try.
The peculiar thing about this is that I know who I am. My identity is solid. It’s not as if I’m wandering, aimlessly trying to figure myself out. So why am I scared of showing it? Why is it that I feel somehow paralyzed when I should be confident to let the world see me? Why is it that I so often clam up when I should be speaking out with no fear?
I have wrestled for years with being myself around certain people. I don’t know what it is, but there are just some people around whom I am never fully able to open up. I hate it. I want so badly to be who I am around everyone, but some people cause me to just close up and become surface level.
When will I outgrow this? When will I feel that who I am is worth being no matter what audience I stand before or what set of eyes is on me?
The truth is, who I am is worth being, around everyone. And who I am is worth being seen by every person who decides to look. Yet, so often I don’t even believe this.
I don’t have answers to the many questions I’ve asked here.
What I do know is that I cannot be an imposter. I am not capable of not being genuine. Every time I am in a situation in which I become closed up, I escape it as immediately as possible. I run from it. I have not yet figured out how, when confronted with my surface level fronts, to overcome them and become myself in that situation.
It seems I can never change for fear of appearing as if I have multiple personalities. Once I have closed up and become surface level around you, I cannot become genuine around you, and that I hate about myself.
Sometimes, when I do something everyone else does, I hear the whisper: “You aren’t good enough for this. This isn’t you.” Everyone else can do it, but when I do it, it’s not good enough. These are the thoughts that bombard me every single day.
I can always tell when I’m not being genuine. I know it every time. And when I know it, I begin to hate myself for it.
I won’t lie – I do struggle with self-hatred. I struggle with complex ideas about identity and personality and relation to people. This seems a small area in which to wrestle with self-hatred. Wouldn’t self-hatred be more justified if it were in relation to body image, or my past?
Yet, this is the biggest area of struggle with this specific issue, and I can’t explain why.
I feel as though on the outside, a fair number of people perceive me as confident.
But what so many don’t know is that on the inside, I struggle with every decision I make.
Driving to the coffee shop to work on writing today, I felt I wasn’t even good enough to go there. Who do you think you are? You aren’t cool enough for this. You should work on writing at home. I’m not even kidding.
Yet, here I sit. As close as I was to turning my car around and going back to my apartment, I stepped through the door of this place, still feeling every bit of my imposter syndrome, ordered a coffee, and settled in. I’m guessing no one who saw me thought “Wow. She doesn’t belong here. What is she doing in here?”
But that is what repeatedly went through my head for the first hour I was here.
My struggles are real.
My thought life is what drives my self-hatred.
I’m not good at this, but I know there’s a solution, and I have it.
My thoughts are not from God. They are not from me. They are planted by the enemy, and the enemy is real.
So how do I allow God’s thoughts about me to begin to drown out those thoughts that paralyze me and make me ashamed to do things? I need to hear more of them than the others. I need to receive His thoughts as truth, acknowledge the others as false, and dismiss them.
The way I’m brave is to do stuff that I feel like an imposter for doing, and keep doing that stuff.
Every time I choose to move forward instead of turning back as my thoughts tell me I should, I am one step closer to conquering this.
Every time I open up my mouth and speak when my thoughts attempt to clamp a hand over my mouth, I am one step closer to beating this.
Every time I get out of my car and step through that door instead of turning around and going home, I am one step closer to defeating this.
And for now, those small choices are the best that I can do.
For now, I’ll dream of the day I am free, while saying yes to His voice and His gentle prompts to be myself. Slowly but surely, with surrender to the process, I will stop letting fear and inaccurate self-perceptions drive me.
Jesus, take the wheel.