Fear, reality and the imposter syndrome

imgres-2David Noel interviewed me at Soundcloud when I was in Berlin for an event that they put on called #Role Models.  I was excited to be asked.  The house was packed and about 70% of the people there were women.

After David and I spoke for awhile he opened it up to questions.  One woman asked me a question about fear.  How do you deal with fear?  Fear is a very powerful feeling.  It can come out of nowhere.  I can be connected to so many things.  Fear of heights, fear of amusement park rides, fear of failure, fear of commitment.  The list is endless.

It was a simple question and a great question.  I paused to think about it.  My first thought is what is she afraid of.  My answer was simple.  The only person that knows that you have fear is yourself.  You have to figure out that issue but when you go into the world do not show your fear.  Show strength.  It might take a lot to muster that up but that fear is your own making.  It is in your own head.  To not think that everyone else around you who is faking it until they make it doesn’t have fear you are kidding yourself.  Take that deep breath when you enter the room and when you leave it. When you go out and talk to the world keep that fear in check and overtime you realize that you had nothing to fear.  It was just your own baggage.

Fast forward to the next day I spoke at another event, this time women only, at the American Embassy in Berlin.  Someone brought up the imposter syndrome.  Something that many women have.  Imposter syndrome is described as something where people have feelings of inadequacy although the opposite is usually true.  There is this internal fear that they will be discovered that they actually know nothing and are not worthy of being in the job, the conversation or whatever it is.  It is a lot like fear.

I ended up having this very long conversation with my son about insecurities.  I told him that in many ways I have finally come into myself without feeling the imposter syndrome.  I have had that imposter syndrome for a very long time.  He refers to me as a rock so he couldn’t believe that I felt that way.  As he puts it, I am killing it right now.

I explained to him, just like I said to the woman at Soundcloud, what you see is not always what someone feels inside.  The key is figuring out that feeling from early on because the importance of feeling you belong at the table is just as important as sitting at it.  At the end of the day, fear is a real thing.  So is anxiety, depression and everything else that is indescribable but lives in your own head.  Much of it comes with your DNA.  Figuring out how to work past those feelings are not easy but you are the only person who is aware of them.  Nobody else.  Remember that.  Also, work on making your head healthy.

FDR said the most eloquent thing about fear.  “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”   He was spot on.