For years I have had this recurring nightmare that I was a fraud, and not as smart as I think I am. That everyone will see it and point fingers at me and say “you are not that smart”. I was living my life inside of my perceived limitations.
I didn’t go to college and I left school my senior year to get married. I took a few community college courses and loved it, just never had the time and money to get a college degree.
Despite the lack of formal education I have risen to a Senior Vice President position with one of the worlds largest banks. You would think that as hard as I have worked to achieve this, I would not have this fear of being found a fraud. Yet, I have looked at what I can do, and think to myself, “If I can do this, it can’t be that hard” and so I discount and belittle the talents I do have. If I do it first, then it won’t hurt so much if you also do it.
Have you ever said any of these things to yourself? Expressed the fear of being “found out” about who you really are? In what ways could you be limiting yourself?
“I don’t deserve this”
“I’m only here because I was lucky”
“Someone must have made a mistake”
“I feel like a fraud”
“It’s only a matter of time before I’m found out”
“I’m not up to this”
I was watching a new show called “Code Black” and it reminded me of these fears that we all have – of being a fraud for something in our lives. These self doubts that we have, if not addressed can ruin our lives as they will act as an agent of sabotage. What if instead of using this fear as a reason to hold back and second guess ourselves, we instead used it as a measuring stick for our own personal growth?
What if the fear of being a fraud was instead a positive sign, about the goals we have set for ourselves in our personal, work, and spiritual growth. The positive question being, “in what areas do I not feel like a fraud, and how can I stretch myself and reach farther to create that feeling?” The measuring stick being if I don’t feel like a fraud, then I am giving myself limitations in this area.
One of the characters on the TV show “Code Black” who is an intern in the ER didn’t trust his intuition about a probable diagnosis for an emergency room patient. So he went with what the other intern wanted to do with tests, and they almost lost the patient. In talking it over later with one the main doctors running the ER, he was told that the intuitive feeling he was getting was critical to being a good doctor and he had to learn to trust it. Later in the same show he confessed to another intern, that he wasn’t confident in his knowledge and felt like a fraud. The other intern told him, “we all are afraid of being found out that we are frauds”.
When I realized that everyone has the same fear of “not being enough of something” and that we all think that we are frauds from trying to be the perfect person, it released something inside of me. It was like when you twist the swing on the swing set around and around until it won’t twist anymore and then let it spin you around and around. I unwound all the twists I had made inside of me. I realized that I don’t have to be perfect to share something that will help someone else.
It released the frustration of having everything be perfect. I stopped being so exhausted and drained from trying to hide the imperfections I have. I started instead to let people see who I really am. I am perfectly imperfect. I have scars of victory and I can be proud of them. You can be better than I am, and I can celebrate your perfect imperfections too. Your beauty does not diminish mine. I can be free to to know that “I have no limits”.
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