I Feel Like a Fake — Especially at Church

woman with back turned
Via lifehack.org

“They’re going to find out I don’t belong here.”

“How long can I keep up this charade?”

Sometimes, most times, I feel like I have no business calling myself a writer. Which is crazy because here I am: writing. I categorize my writing as a hobby and present my skill level as “amateur” in case someone asks for my writing credentials.

I don’t have a degree in writing: I don’t have a college degree period. Back when I started, I didn’t have a portfolio, nor did I know of anyone in the business. I didn’t have professional editors to review my work, and I was pretty sure that if I had, they would’ve lobbed it back at me with “PATHETIC ATTEMPT” written in red.

But I wrote anyway—because I enjoyed it. Because it challenged me, and it opened up the tunnel to my creativity that I had blocked for a long while (what I refer to as the ‘cloudy’ chapters in my life closely followed by the ‘slightly less cloudy with bouts of fuzziness’ chapters).

Writing gave me a voice.

When I started sending pieces out to different websites, I was over the moon when a small piece was accepted by a Canadian mom blog. It wasn’t a heavily trafficked site and it didn’t fill my in-box with comments and requests, but it was a major step into solidifying that I could write and that maybe, just maybe, I should keep at it.

It’s been four years since I’ve started, and in that time I’ve written for six different websites, publishing over 30 articles on topics ranging from childhood development and parent education to spiritual experiences, dotted with examples of the ridiculousness that is my personal life. I even have a self-published e-book. As a first book, it’s very raw but I still put it out there for others to read it, and yes, even criticize it.

So maybe now I can start calling myself an author.

But why the hesitancy? Why the inner second guessing?

Selling Ourselves Short

How many times have any of us ever categorized our achievements as mediocre? We put in the work, the dedication, and still come up feeling like we are frauds. Whether it’s as a parent, in our careers, or even church callings, how many of us can relate to feeling like we have no right to feel successful?

They called me to be the what? Are you sure that was divine inspiration or just desperation?

There’s an actual term for this —the hesitancy to show true confidence in our abilities, believing that if we put ourselves out there, we are just asking for someone to reject our efforts.

“Well if you could do it—it probably isn’t that difficult.” Because that’s always fun to hear.

The invalidation that we are in constant fear of: that someone out there who is an actual professional writer/educator/parent/church calling extraordinaire who minored in pioneering can undermine my efforts because I have nothing to back it up. I’m a fraud, a phony.

I’m an imposter.

The problem with this is that we start to question our own worth—undervalue our accomplishments.

Imposter Syndrome—It’s a Thing

Imposter Syndrome is the behavior behind these caustic doubts. Coined by clinical (ie: legit) psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes back in 1978, “Imposter Syndrome” describes individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments with a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.”

Sound familiar?

“Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.”

This concept digs deeper than the all too common ‘fake it ’till you make it’ mentality. I’ve never considered myself lacking in confidence, but this particular mental interference has always managed to sneak up on me.

When you grow up being taught that arrogance and pride are rooted in the adversary’ plan, it’s hard to differentiate humility from this particular phenomenon.

Maya Angelou meme 11 booksUndermining your achievements or discounting praises are not signs of humility.

Thoughts of “I just got lucky” or “I’m not deserving” are not definitions of meekness.

being humble meme HinckleyWhen we’ve been asked to be humble, meek and lowly, we were never asked to diminish our value or dull our strengths. Heavenly Father has asked us to use our light to make a difference. We do that by diving into our full potential: we can’t hold back. He has blessed us with unique talents to share and perseverance to develop our faith and build our testimonies.

Stepping away from the imposter syndrome and allowing ourselves to find fulfillment in our achievements is necessary for us to move forward.

The symptoms:

  • Perfectionism
  • Overworking
  • Undermining achievements
  • Fear of failure
  • Discounting praise

We can replace this toxicity by:

  • Achieve self-Acceptance
  • Balance personal and work life
  • Acknowledge the small accomplishments
  • Learn from the failures
  • Strengthen and encourage others
  • Show gratitude to our Heavenly Father
  • Find joy in the work
  • Take the time to step back and be satisfied with a job well done

This means showing gratitude to our Heavenly Father because He wants to bless us. If we feel we are undeserving of His blessings, how are we going to use those blessings to help others? When we allow ourselves to acknowledge that we are enough, that we are doing the best we can, we are showing Him gratitude for His hand in our lives: His constant love and guidance.

If we can’t tell our family and friends “thank you” when they acknowledge our awesomeness—how can we thank our Father for making us so incredibly incredible?

Accepting Praise

I remember sitting in English class my senior year of high school with a friend of mine who had done some modeling for the photography class. She had a very classic beauty about her; it wasn’t obvious or in-your-face, but her lines and her presence were stunning, and it was all perfectly captured on film and published in the school magazine. One of our classmates commented on how beautiful she was, and without skipping a beat, she reverently said, “thank you for the compliment.”

She wasn’t basking in the glory, nor was she cowering in the shadows. This was a perfect example of grace and poise. She didn’t undermine the compliment or brush it off, nor did she extol her physical appearance. She simply said thank you: she accepted the compliment.

That tiny moment has had a lasting effect on me: WE CAN SAY THANK YOU. We can take pride in our efforts and give ourselves a break, all the while demonstrating humility and grace.

Just because we aren’t rocket scientists doesn’t mean our efforts and contributions are invaluable.

We are not imposters. As God’s children, there is nothing fake about our divine worth: whether we see it in our day to day lives or not.

Megan is a thirty-something single mom blogger who lives in Portland, OR. She has worked in Pharmacy for the past 15 years and spends her free time free-lance writing for parenting blogs and writing fiction. When in "time-out" (of her own accord) she reads and writes, then reads some more. Her historical fiction novella is available on Amazon The Max Effect.