Imposter Syndrome and the Lessons Learned from 2022
My first article, and some background on starting this blog. Part 1
As 2022 comes to a close, I am surrounded by my family. My son is playing Switch on the floor next to me, and my wife is watching Instagram reels to recoup some rest from the weekend of traveling to and back from her family. We are all exhausted from the fun and emotionally draining weekend with my wife's parents and our niece (a girl I may write a post about one day). While I relaxed, I found my mind racing with this very blog post being written in my mind. So I will make this the first official release of my online writing journey.
2022 has been a fascinating year full of personal growth and discovery. I had started the year full of hope and vigor. I had just turned 40. My son turned six and started Kindergarten. My wife and I had battled through several issues, and we found ourselves more in love and attracted to each other than ever.
My personal life is solid and enjoyable. We were plugged into a community in our local church. I was learning more and more about the guitar and getting more comfortable after three years of playing on stage. Being involved helped me create genuine friendships with others on the church's worship team and beyond. I've never been the best at making friends, but 41 years have given me enough to know what NOT to do. This time, I think I nailed it.
In addition to my personal life, my professional career was taking off! I had just finished the first official year of my freelance Web Developer business. I ended the year by bringing in more revenue than ever. Considering this is a side hustle (for now), the money was great and helped me and my family have a comfortable and exciting year. I was also in the middle of my weight loss journey, where I had lost more than 55 pounds. I was closing in on emotional weight I hadn't enjoyed since my 20s.
I was on cloud nine. Life was looking great, and I was ready to take over the world. Then, it all changed.
My bout with Imposter Syndrome.
A few months into the year, I had already broken a revenue goal for my business that took half the time it took me the year before. I was blown away. I couldn't believe this was happening to me. It was too good to be true! Wait... what if it was?
I began to look back at my life these past few years, and I honestly didn't recognize myself. I was happy after a lifetime of battling to become a father; years of misunderstanding and fighting with my wife; a mostly stagnant web dev career with little room for upward corporate growth (that's something we are supposed to want, right?). I was happy. And I was very uncomfortable.
I began to detach from my personal life. I stopped pursuing new clients. I started to get more irritated with my own family. Not to mention, the world is falling apart! News stories constantly talked about the threat of nuclear war. I entered a deep depression, and worst of all, I started overusing substances. Not heavy drugs, but I began to drink alcohol and overeat again which resulted in some weight gain. Things weren't great, and I was spiraling. It wasn't until much later that I found out about Imposter Syndrome.
For those who don't know, Imposter Syndrome is the belief that a person does not deserve the success and achievements they have. I don't know how new this concept is, but that is precisely how I felt. I haven't been this happy in a long time. It all had to be fake. I was not deserving of what I had.
How I overcame my Imposter Syndrome.
The height of my Imposter Syndrome was reached toward the end of summer. When I didn't think things could get worse, my entire family got Covid. We brought the alpha strain way back on December 25, 2020. Yep. I spent Christmas in 2020 with Covid. I didn't know I had Covid, so it quickly spread to the rest of my family. So, we were no strangers to this, and luckily, it was all right this time. We mostly slept for four straight days, and I played Witcher 3.
However, something happened during that time. I started to pick up reading again. Maybe it was the video game I was playing, but I began to crave more fantasy worlds. So, I started listening to The Stormlight Archives again. Soon Covid was over, and I carried this habit back into the workplace. Soon, I began bringing my lunch to work and eating at my desk. However, before eating, I would leave the office and walk around downtown Tulsa for a half-mile to a mile, and I would use this time to listen to my book. Soon, I would come home in the afternoons and go running.
A few weeks after Covid, my family and mother took a trip to Dallas for a little long weekend at Great Wolf Lodge. My wife and I started a tradition of taking long weekend mini-vacations before the start of school, and despite my struggle, I still loved and cherished my family. So I put them before myself and had a great time with my son and wife. However, I had time to think and pray during the quiet times at the water park, and something extraordinary happened. I sat by the room's window, answering some emails for work and knocking out a few tasks on my laptop. I was making a few notes in Notion about the job, and I noticed a category in the menu I had never seen before.
My mind started racing. What is this? I clicked it. It came up with a daily entry. It listed out some headers that helped document the day. It asked what happened, what memories I would like to remember, and what goals for the next day. I was intrigued, and I started writing.
I documented the fun time I had that weekend with my family. I wrote down some memories I wanted to hold onto and some goals for the next week. It was genuinely cathartic! Writing down my thoughts and feelings from the day felt so good. So good that I did it again and again and again. The first five or six times I journaled, I was living off the high of my family's mini-vacation. It wasn't long before the Imposter Syndrome started to creep back in.
My mood started to slip as life started to get back to normal, and I skipped journaling for a few days.
One morning, I was not doing well in my head. I yelled at my son and was snippy with my wife. I left the house in the wrong place to go into the office. I seethed during my commute at imaginary slights my wife had made at me and my son's disobedience. I got to the office and set up my laptop for work. My monitor came on, and the first thing to meet me on my screen was Notion, and the Journal category was screaming at me. I opened the Journal, created a blank entry (no headers present), and just started writing my thoughts.
I wrote things scathing things down. I didn't count, but it had to be close to 300 words. I started to reread it and think about what I wrote down. I didn't like what I read. It didn't sound like me at all, and it didn't sound like a person I would want to associate with. Why would I want to be that person? But more precisely, I started to tear the very things I wrote down apart as if I was looking at myself in the 3rd person.
I started writing again.
This time, I re-examined my issues and explained why I felt a certain way. The tone and message changed from a position of attack to one of explanation and discovery. I eventually drilled down to my issue with my wife and why it bothered me.
I immediately texted my wife and told her I had written down something I wanted her to read. I can only imagine what she thought when I texted her, but she said yes in her infinite grace and love for me. I copied the new journal entry into a text message and sent it. I didn't know how she would react, but I knew the tone of my conversation was softer, so at least I knew it would be better received (I know my wife).
After a while, I got a text back from her. "I never thought of it that way. Let's talk tonight." Later that night, we had a level-headed and straightforward conversation about the issue. No yelling. No insults. We talked, and we were both heard. By the end of the night, I knew I was onto something. I had found a cheat code in my brain.
As time went on, I started to use this technique for other issues in my life. My insecurities and fears were something I could write about and work through. I began to use those walking lunch breaks to find a quiet place with my iPad and write. Pretty soon, the Imposter was gone.
The lessons I learned.
Here is what I learned from my Imposter Syndrome.
1) The devil is real and is on the move.
Looking back, it is clear what was happening. I was at my highest point. I had begun to take control of my life I could control and sincerely started giving the rest to Jesus. I was happy, and the devil pounced. There is much fear and uncertainty in the world, but more importantly, there is little hope floating around. Our society is full of fear, paranoia, and anger. Our creative media is stagnant, giving none of the inspiring stories I grew up on. Just decay and hopelessness.
The hopeless mind is prime real estate for the real Imposter's lies to spread.
2) Stay humble.
Imposter Syndrome makes us feel like we are undeserving of what a person has accomplished. The truth is, you are right. We do not deserve many things, but more on that later.
3) Writing is a life hack.
I doubt this will work for everyone, but for me, writing is therapy. There is just something about putting words on the page that feels both empowering and relaxing simultaneously. So I want to do this more, and I have a plan.
My next steps.
1) Exercise more.
Exercise has more benefits than just physical. It can help with stress and anxiety. Two things would seriously send my head into negative territory. After a lunchtime walk or a mile or two runs in the afternoon, my mood would instantly change from anxious to at ease and sometimes even too exhausted to worry.
No gym membership for me. I hate crowds, and gyms are always crowded when I want to go. However, I can start running more. I can get the resistance bands I bought during Covid and use them. I can clean out the garage and make a garage gym.
So, I will be exercising a lot more in 2023.
2) Protect my mind more.
This was a big one. To get the negative thoughts out of my head, I had to stop putting negative thoughts into my head. It makes so much sense saying it now, but at the time, I didn't understand why watching political pundits complain all day made me anxious about my own future. Or why does reading tweets by angry political commentators put me in such an angry mood? Or why conspiracy theories about shadowy figures out to get me and kill my family would make me so anxious!
Garbage in, garbage out.
I will be unsubscribing from many YouTube channels or unfollowing many Twitter and Instagram accounts whose primary focus is complaining about what others do or don't do. I plan to write a longer piece on the subject, but politics is a waste of time, effort, and energy. I realize that now.
I still want to be informed about the world, and I have found some journalists on Twitter that I like reading. More news and less negativity.
3) Read more.
Part of putting the garbage out means you have to replace it with something. I have found a few podcasts that start my curiosity and several Twitter accounts that fill me with inspiration and grit. Since I rediscovered books in July, I have put away about six books. Some fiction and some non-fiction. I am still determining what I will read, but I want to up that number this year.
4) Write more.
This is one given to me. I have always loved to write; I have just never had anything to write about. I found something, but it's more than that.
While cleaning up my Twitter feed, I started following some accounts that talked about writing. I started with some fiction writers and found people writing on Twitter. Copywriters making threads about copywriting. Wisdom accounts writing threads about how to wise sayings from more intelligent men and women. And some people just wrote in public about whatever was bothering them. That is where I want to start. Just writing.
So, I am starting this blog. I am still determining what I will write about every article, but I know I WANT to write. Right now, I plan on doing a monthly article. After about three months, I will reevaluate and may up the frequency. I want to try making Twitter threads as another writing exercise and hopefully drive some traffic to
5) Pray more.
I don't pray enough. I have no excuse for this. Writing these words brings tears to my eyes. Shouldn't I start or end the day with a prayer? Shouldn't it be both?
Here is the crazy thing about Imposter Syndrome. It is effective. But why?
It is because we are not deserving. None of us are (Rom 3:23).
I became prideful in my newfound success last year, which opened me up to the Imposter. Luckily, the spirit and my wife led me back before I went too far. So the biggest lesson I have learned is to stay humble. Because I don't deserve the grace I have been given, take it and everything you have in life with humility.