I hear over and over from my friends, and coaching clients, that they feel like they are the only ones in their circle who have no idea what they are doing with their lives – they are the only ones who are lost, the only ones who are searching, the only ones who are misspent, the only ones who don’t have their shit together.
Everyone else they know is happy, well-adjusted, in a content relationship, loving their jobs, own a big house, and are steadily saving towards retirement.
They don’t understand what’s wrong with them that they can’t figure out this life business.
Why are they having such a hard time launching their adulthood?, they ask me.
This comparison becomes worse when they bring social media into it. Now they are able to compare themselves not only to the people they know, but to everyone on this planet. And they fall short every single time – because they are comparing their shadows to everyone’s light.
Recently, I found this reddit thread that I share with everyone who comes to me with this feeling of not being good enough. The thread was in this great article by David at Raptitude. In this Reddit thread, therapists listed things that they hear from their patients over and over again. Imposter Syndrome came up as one common thread among a lot of the answers.
I implore you all to go take a gander at this reddit thread – it is truly eye-opening to see how everyone of us (every single one) feels like they are an imposter.
Why do we feel like imposters?
- We feel like we have no idea what we are doing at our jobs. Everyone else seems to know what they are doing except us. We fear that one day we will be revealed to the world as shams. We will be taken to the front of the office, and ridiculed at how incompetent and unknowledgeable we are.
- We feel like we don’t know what we are doing with our relationships. Everyone else seems to be in happy, content, fulfilling relationships. Whereas, we are single with no prospect of getting into a relationship, or in a terribly unfulfilling and miserable relationship.
- We feel like everyone else knows what they are supposed to be doing with their lives. Everyone else knows about their purpose, whereas we are gambolling along without a clue in the world.
These are just a few examples of illusions that are perpetuated by our fears, doubts. Comparing ourselves to picture-perfect Instagram posts.
Obviously, the ideal solution would be to stop comparing ourselves to everyone around us. And stop going on social media networks to make ourselves feel bad.
But that might be harder than we think.
So I offer this alternative solution.
Whenever you feel like you are alone in the world in being an imposter and a failure, go read the Reddit thread, and remember this, even Albert Einstein felt like an imposter!
A month before his death, he reportedly confided in a friend. He said, “the exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”
Wow! One of the most brilliant men in the world feels like a swindler, like an imposter.
Take solace from this fact, and remember, you are doing the best you can. So keep on doing the best you can, and keep on plugging.
Your journey is your own. No one else matters on this journey. You can’t compare yourself to anyone else – because everyone else is doing their own thing.
You are unique in your path, your path is incomparable to anyone else’s.
Come back to the reddit thread every time you feel disconsolate about your life. You are not alone. Everyone else feels the same way.