Imposters Among Us
Who we are as individuals is a sometimes-complicated line of thought. For many of us, who we are depends on what we are. Our careers can often become the foundation of our identity, especially if we’ve dedicated vast effort towards professional pursuits. It can then be understandably harrowing when we are no longer in that position, whether through planned retirement or an untimely layoff.
Profession and personality have long been intertwined, discusses Harvard’s Arthur Brooks in this episode of Boston University’s Here and Now. This inadvertent invasion of our personalities by our professions is not without consequence. By wrapping all that we are into a specific title or position, we make ourselves vulnerable to an eventual crisis of identity–or imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome, described above by TED-Ed, occurs when we aren’t certain of our own merits. It can often be the direct result of conflating who we are with what we do. Mentioned in this conversation between Simon Sinek and Divesh Makan, the confusion between personal identity and professional title is why many retirees suffer a loss of identity. By putting all of ourselves into a single area of our lives, whether that be a job, a relationship, a hobby, or so on, we risk exacerbating already high levels of loneliness.
Loneliness and imposter syndrome can be as interlaced as profession and personality, with both sentiments creating feelings of inadequacy. Expressed here by Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, loneliness can propel us into addictive behaviors. This isn’t to say that we should abandon our career aspirations. Careers can help sustain or even improve our quality of life, after all. But as the idiom goes, we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket.
Imposter syndrome and feelings of loneliness are further entwined by their connected remedies. Through greater self-awareness, such as exploring our Prism® Portrait, can we conquer both poignant ailments. Spending time alone might seem counterintuitive, but by spending time with ourselves we can better know ourselves. Through moments of quiet introspection and meditation we can achieve a greater assertion of our strengths and our worth.
We are imposters only if we believe ourselves to be. Likewise, we are lonely only if we believe ourselves to be.
“When do you know you’re enough? When you stop focusing on all things that you’re not… When you start believing that your perceived flaws are just that—perception.”
― Malebo Sephodi
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