Imposter Syndrome is Universal

Imposter Syndrome is real. You won’t find it in any of the medical coding books and there hasn’t been significant research on the subject, but it’s an affliction many suffer from.

I see plenty of posts (and have made some myself) about feeling like we aren’t as talented as others. Our sales aren’t as high as others, so it must be a reflection of our talent. We don’t see people gushing over our books, so it must not happen. The list of complaints goes on and on.

This week, I was shown just how universal Imposter Syndrome is. I had the privilege (and yeah, it really was one) to work during a kids camp at my day job. The lead instructor for the week is a professional athlete. He’s not just some dude hoping to play in the big game today, he’s an honest-to-god professional. One of the players whose name is recognized by fans of the sport, even if they aren’t fans of his team. His dreams have come true!

The kids were giddy about getting to play around with him. They were eager to learn with him. And yeah, some of the camp organizers vented about how they wished more players were there for the purpose of the camp (it had a very distinct non-sports theme, but I’m being purposely vague here) rather than for him. And I get that. It’s got to be like when an author goes to a book signing and their table is slammed, not because of their awesome stories, but because of the hot piece of man-flesh sitting next to them. It stings. (I’ve been there. Even had a photographer ask me if I was an author when they were standing in front of my table talking to the model next to me)

By all outward appearances, this man is near perfection. He’s talented. He has a devoted wife. He has a community, both in the sport and out. And yet, when they broke for lunch and he was chatting with some of the other coaches, it wasn’t his talent, his success, or what he’s accomplished that he focused on when they complimented him.

It was his shortcomings. He’s too small. Needs more muscle. “Once I get back to training, I’ll be able to fix that…”

For all the things he has, he’s still blinded by the myriad ways he doesn’t (in his own mind) stack up to the biggest and baddest in the sport.

I wish I could say this realization banished my own insecurities, but it didn’t. What it did do is make me see that Imposter Syndrome isn’t necessarily a bad thing. When we feel like we aren’t the best we could be, we have something to work for. We push that much harder, trying to get to the next level.

In some ways, those of us who haven’t reached the pinnacle are in the best spot. Yes, we see what’s above us and wish we were there, but we also have the ability to look back and see how far we’ve come. The key is not letting yourself slide back down the hill simply because you’re not already sitting at the top.