I can think of at least three times in my life where I experienced imposter syndrome:
- Starting my private practice in my 20s
- Being a mom
- Moving to Germany and trying to act like I had a clue what I was doing
I look back at these and laugh a bit now because I am not quite sure where all the stress and anxiety came from. That’s what imposter syndrome makes us feel, though. It makes us question ourselves, our abilities, and lose track of the truth.
The truth for me was that I was prepared to start my private practice. I had the skill set to be successful. The issues was I was one of the few younger therapists with a practice which made me feel less than. Actually, this appealed to my clients. They wanted someone who wasn’t jaded by the system. Being a mom naturally creates uncertainty and fear. We believe moms should just “know” what to do with our babies, but we all realize very quickly this is false thinking. However, imposter syndrome comes up even in this situation in which it is an identity shift versus a new job.
Acting like I knew what I was
Think back to any new situation you have been in. It could be a transition to a new job, a move, or even a new role (like being a mom). How many times have you experienced imposter syndrome?
Since you are reading this, I am going to guess at least once. Ready for a tool to help you face the syndrome we all experience at some point in our lives? I’ve got one for you. I am going to help you create your “Un-bucket List.” Instead of a bucket list that looks at everything you want to do or see (which let’s be honest is mainly built on things that look or sound cool) you are going to be creating a list of what you have already achieved.
Here are the key components of your Un-bucket List:
Achievements you have made
List out everything, even things you achieved as a kid. Were you voted as the class president in 5th grade? Put in on there. Are you the first to go to college in your family? That goes on there too! Did you go back to work after having a kid and complete a major project all while sleep deprived? You guessed it…that goes on the list too. Sometimes we can’t even see our achievements so feel free to ask your loved ones and see what they bring up.
Challenges you have overcome
This list should be quite full. Think personal challenges and external challenges. Mine included things like experiencing Hurricane Katrina while in my senior year of college in Mississippi, anxiety in grad school, and moving every two to three years as a kid. If you told your life story to someone, what would they point out as being super challenging? Sometimes I skip over the memories of my life challenges to only focus on the good, but it’s so important that we recognize how far we have come as well!
Experiences you have had
Ok, this is the fun one! List it all: places you have been to, languages you have learned, all the jobs you have ever had…even that one summer babysitting that scarred you for life, competitions you have been in, instruments you played or play, and people you have met that change your life. Literally, you could write pages I bet, but the thing is you may not see these experiences as special. Someone else does! In today’s society of comparitis, someone is looking at you and going “Wow, she’s amazing!” This list is helping you see what may be normal to you is extraordinary to someone else.
These three components focus you back on your abilities and skills so you are ready to face those doubts with facts. You are amazing. You have done many things in your lifetime, and this feeling too shall pass. It’s not the first time you have felt like an imposter and it’s not the last time. Embrace the butterflies, challenge the doubts, and get ready to learn some new skills.
Want more guidance on how to create your list to kick imposter syndrome to the curb? Check out my Un-bucket List worksheet with guided sections so you really hone in on what you have accomplished in each category.