Frozen in Fake Fraudulence

by Chrysula on February 21, 2012 in asking,dreaming,empowering women and girls,mothering

I wrote a note to a very successful blogger and leadership coach once, that was slightly critical — I greatly like her work and still follow it. She would temper her sales pitches with feelings of anxiety and fear over what she was asking and how it made her ill to ask for business (though she had complete faith in what she could do for you). She was in effect saying, “How dare I?”

It perplexed me. I had to let her know. She responded on her blog in defense of her openness. She trusted her community where authenticity was valued over all else. I respected that. But I also wondered what else was going on.

Her language has shifted recently, and without any loss of authenticity, and not because of me. But I wonder if she went through a process similar to the one I have been experiencing recently, one that has helped me feel more empathy for her than I had at the time?

I’ve had a touch of  “imposter syndrome”. It is nothing new. The Emperor’s New Clothes is an ode to the deep fear most of us have that the world will discover we have zero expertise and we will be discovered in fraudulence. It is one of the many well documented reasons people walk away from promotions and opportunities. It affects men and women equally (though the female variety tends to get more press).

My life is filled with opportunities for which I am well suited  and can claim experience and competence. And yet a few weeks ago in a meeting I froze, minimizing my contribution. I was asking, “How dare I?” The meeting was with trusted partners and I was able to clarify and regroup the next time we spoke. But it threw me. Why would I do that? Why would I torture myself in false modesty that served no one?

In hindsight, I am grateful for the experience. It forced me to shake myself up and re-evaluate what I am bringing to everything I do. Taking stock of my true strengths and assets has shored me up against critics. Those critics are teaching me that when you make a stand, no one is paying attention until someone disagrees with you. It’s forcing me to up my game in my mothering, my community work, my professional life and all the many things I care about.

I recommit to mothers’ voices daring to be heard to improve the world around them, and it starts with this voice. My voice. How dare I?

Guess what? I dare.

I am hosting a call this Wednesday Feb 22nd at 7pm EST (4pm PST) with author of Dare, Dream, Do: Remarkable Things Happen When You Dare to Dream, Whitney Johnson. It’s $10, 30% of which goes to  The Microlending Project documentary film to illustrate the life and community changing nature of women and micro finance. You can learn more and register here.

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Amy Lu February 22, 2012 at 12:41 am

Chrysula, I so related to this post. It was a great reminder to not de-value what I do, or lose faith in my talents. It also makes me think how grateful I am for those in my life who remind me of what I’m good at. We all need a cheerleader at times. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh-darn-it, people like you!

Chrysula February 22, 2012 at 12:51 am

Indeed you are! And people do! :) xo

Deborah Gardner Snow February 22, 2012 at 2:47 am

Chrysula, I am honored to call you a dear friend. THANK YOU for this and all your posts. I so appreciate your sincerity (even when it would be easy to paint a different picture) because that sincerity is what makes the subject matter so thought-provoking and your voice so important. I appreciate how you challenge each individual to do and become, not necessarily more, but better. Isn’t that just what our world needs? A billion people doing better than they were before.

This post hits a particular chord within me because I’ve struggled to understand why I allow myself to dismiss my particular gifts instead of just letting them shine? When becoming the best ‘me’ possible is what I really want to do. Maybe a fear of confidence, an obsession with humility, a desire to be truly gracious, the unknown weight of success (but shouldn’t that weight be light and wonderful?) I’ll let you know when I get it all figured out :) but until then I thank you for giving me the unexpected push needed to actually figure it out once and for all. I’m excited to be ‘better’.

Chrysula February 22, 2012 at 7:23 pm

I am grateful the post hit a chord. We all put our own lens over the words we read and have our own experience with them. It thrills me that my experience would be valuable to you in some way.

“A billion people doing better than they were before” is exactly what we’re all aiming for! So perfectly expressed.

You are on an intense journey right now and the figuring out part happens piecemeal at times – frustrating when we’d like it done in one go! You raise some important issues “a fear of confidence, an obsession with humility, a desire to be truly gracious, the unknown weight of success (but shouldn’t that weight be light and wonderful?)”.

I don’t know if success is light and wonderful – it comes with new responsibilities and consequences – but it does come with the satisfaction of knowing you’re doing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing with your time and talents and making the most of the gifts you’ve been given. That’s the definition of success for me. And that feels fantastic.

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