A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (or something like that): on Imposter Syndrome and Feeling like a Fraud

Last week I bought a size 8 pant and a size small top. Size 8. Size small. SMALL. Since I was verging on a 16 pant and extra-large shirt in April, this is a something of a milestone. I haven’t worn a size 8 in nearly 10 years, and a size small? Who even knows. I’m so, so pleased to see my hard work paying off – so of course I bought that adorable, teeny tinie outfit!

However, I couldn’t help but notice the little monster inside my head telling me “it’s a size small, but you’re not small. You’re not a small person. These brands must be made bigger than average.” While I’ve worked hard to lose over 40 lbs since April, my brain is having a hard time catching up to my body. I still feel big even though the clothes I’m buying say otherwise.

I think I’ve always struggled with this kind of impostor syndrome and feeling like I’m “less than.” I felt it accutely in grad school, when everyone else seemed to be smarter than me and my contributions were never good enough to actually come out of my mouth during seminar; sometimes I felt like I shouldn’t even be there. Now, in theory I know that’s note true: if I’m adequately prepared, I know my contributions are as valid as everyone else’s. However, to emotionally understand that is a different story. It’s hard not to feel like everyone else is doing better than me.

When I started my health focus last April, I was blind to my usual fear that if I succeed, I won’t be worthy of my own success. I knew I had to do something about my steadily climbing weight, and I did. Somewhere down the line, those self-defeating thoughts crept in, and I became scared that even when I’d lost 50 lbs that somehow that still wouldn’t be good enough. Or rather, I still wouldn’t be good enough. Well, sorry to disappoint you, little monster inside my head, but I am so much more than my weight, and everything that I am is pretty awesome.

I walked out of Winners today with my tiny clothes, feeling simultaneously proud of and down on myself. I know now that I’ve got a little work to do mentally to get where I really want to be right now, which is capable, confident and independent. It’s time to let myself succeed and stop getting in my own way! I’m going to try to catch myself when I start thinking I’m “lesser than”but I know there’s a lot of work to be done if I want to have those thoughts less often in the long run. 

Does anyone have any strategies they’d like to share about how to banish imposter syndrome to the curb, or stories about how you’ve dealt with this yourself? As always, we want to hear.

With strength,

Stephanie

On Bell Let’s Talk Day

Since both Melanie and I have struggled with our mental health to varying degrees, I figured it was important for us to make a post to mark today. Bell Canada is dedicating today to mental health awareness, and donates 5 cents toward mental health initiatives for every text sent over their network, and every Facebook post or tweet of theirs shared.

I’ve always liked that they do this – for about a month leading up to Bell Let’s Talk Day, there are posters in the subways and scattered throughout the city. They even have commercials! It’s basically impossible to escape the ads. Bell’s Let’s Talk Day is only one day of raising funds, but it’s probably close to a month of awareness raising. A lot of people I know are very open about discussing mental health over social media, so this isn’t unusual for me. I see a lot of articles shared about anxiety, depression, and personality disorders every single day, and I’m proud that I know so many people who are open about their struggles or acknowledge their friends’ conditions in this way.

I’m also aware that most of the world doesn’t communicate so openly about mental health. There is still a huge stigma around the topic, and I am privileged to be part of a group that discusses it relatively openly.

I also recognize that Bell Let’s Talk isn’t perfect. Every single one of their spokespeople is privileged in their whiteness and their wealth. On the flip side, that’s just a biproduct of a larger societal phenomenon – most of our celebrities, the people that we’ll recognize in an advertisement, are white and wealthy. I hope people look at the ads and think, “Oh, Clara Hughes! I remember her gold medals from the Olympics. I wonder what she’s dealing with.” or, “Hey, I’ve seen Howie Mandel on TV – what’s up with him?” When you realize that people who struggle with mental health can overcome that and succeed in spite of their struggles, that’s powerful. We aren’t lost causes just because we aren’t “standard”.

I hope the Bell Let’s Talk campaign can come to a point where it explicitely can bring our attention away from celebs and back to our neighbours and family and the person next to us on the subway, but it’s also important to take the first step and look at Clara Hughes and realize that people who struggle with mental health can have fulfilling lives without hiding what they’re dealing with.

I encourage everyone to keep an open mind not only today, but on all the other days of the year. Let’s work to get to a point where all people have access to mental health services, and where we can treat therapy sessions just the same as any routine medical checkup. There’s a lot of work to do, sure, but this is a start.

And, of course, since it does not go without saying – if you’re struggling with anything and you need someone to listen: I may not understand what you’re going through, but dammit I’ll try.

-S

The Feminine Perspective Special Edition: The March for Human Rights

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Today was an inspiring, empowering and powerful day. Today millions of people across the globe came together to stand in solidarity, to stand up loud and proud for what is GOOD, what is RIGHT and what is FAIR. Today the world witnessed a unity and a strength beyond anything that has ever been seen before. Today the world witness the greatest revolution and movement of love, peace and equality. No matter what you believe in you cannot deny the power and impact the march that took place today created. It went beyond the scope of women’s rights, it became a movement of human rights and it became the greatest show of unity and love. It showed the world that there is still good left, that there are still people who are willing to band together to make this world a better place. Today people from all walks of life showed up and supported what truly matters, not just nationally but internationally and that is the right to be respected, the right to be treated equally as a human being, the right to a choice, the right to a choice about your body, the right to choose who and how you love, that no matter the colour of your skin or the religion you choose to honour or whether you were born in this country or not, that you are SEEN, that you MATTER and that you are VALID.

Today and every day from this point on, I ask that you STAND UP, RISE UP, get in formation, and fight with a fierce love in your heart for what you believe in. Understand with every cell and fibre of your being that who you are and what you stand for is worthy, is valid and matters. Repeat this to yourself every single day, and don’t let anyone tell you any differently: YOU ARE WORTHY. YOU ARE VALID. YOU MATTER. Use your voice. Tell your story. Move through this life with a fierce love and kindness. Fight every single day for who are you and what you believe in. Understand that the colour of your skin, the religion you believe in, the country you were born in, the person you choose to love, or the sex that you identify with, that they may be a part of who you are but understand that you are also more than that, you are a human being and that makes you enough, that makes you valid, that makes you matter and that you are SEEN. Stand proudly in who you are because you are beautiful. Don’t let anyone take that fundamental right away from you, the fundamental right to be treated as a human being with equal rights and equal amounts of respect and don’t let anyone make you feel ashamed of who you are. Stand up. Stand proud. Rise up. Be fierce. Use your beautiful heart, fierce mind and passionate soul to fight for what is fundamentally yours. Raise your words, not only your voice. Speak from a place of compassion and knowledge. More progress is made when it is made from a place of peace, compassion and knowledge. Never stop fighting for what is good, what is right and what is fair. I ask that if you are a parent, to educate your children on these issues, make them aware that they too have a voice, that it is powerful and that their opinions are valid. Teach your daughters that their bodies are theirs, that they have a choice and a right to decide how it is treated. Teach them that they are more than their bodies, that the size of their bodies is irrelevant. Allow them the space and support to own their bodies. Teach your daughters to be more than beautiful. Teach them to be fierce, to be passionate, to be compassionate, to be kind and loving. Teach them that they don’t need a man to validate them, to make them feel worthy and loved. Teach them that they own that power, teach them that true validation can only come from them, teach them to love themselves and believe in their own worth. Tell them every single day that they are loved, that they are enough, that they are worthy, that they matter and that they are valid. Teach your sons that women are not objects, that they are more than bodies. Teach them to treat women as human beings. Teach them respect, compassion and the true meaning of love and acceptance. Teach your sons that true strength is a measure of how gentle and kind they are. Teach your sons that emotions and sensitivity is a human thing. That it is a natural thing .That to feel is to be human. Allow them to feel, allow them to own their emotions. Tell your sons that you love them, that you are proud of them, validate their emotions and teach them that being sensitive doesn’t make them any less worthy or manly, it makes them human. Allow your children the space to choose how they want to be in this world and honour that. Teach your children what it means to be human, to be kind and accepting of all people. Changing the world starts there. Today is just the beginning, this revolution that has been reignited has a lit a fire in people heart’s and souls. This fight isn’t over and it won’t be over until real change has been made.

And to those of you who believe that this won’t change anything, I ask you to look to the women’s rights movement from the 60’s or the civil rights movement or the LGBTQ movement, all of those people fighting for what they believed in and for what was/is rightfully theirs were told the same thing but they never stopped fighting. Each of those movements respectively won in the end. Persistence, determination and the unrelenting faith/belief that we will get what is rightfully ours will allow us to win again. The fact that you doubt that this will do anything is what fuels us to keep going until we win, again. For those of you who do believe in fundamental HUMAN rights for ALL, keep the conversation going. Keep talking about it, talk about it loudly and proudly until no one can deny the truth anymore. Do what you can with what you have to make your voice and your story heard. Talk to everyone and anyone about it. Support people who have the same values as you. Use your social media for more than selfies and pictures of food or your latest purchases, use it to spread truth, to spread love, to spread kindness and acceptance. Use it to support the things that matter to you. Use it as a platform for what you believe in. Do good things with the time you have here on Earth. Help make a change in this world that truly matters. Keep shattering the glass ceilings. Stand up. Rise up. Power to the people.

Forever a passionate feminist who loves all BEINGS,

Melanie

(Header Photo Credit to sheknows.com and the Amplifier Foundation’s art winners who created this rad pieces of art for the march, there are more images on the site that you should definitely check out!)

Must Read Alert!

YOU’VE! GOT! TO! READ! THIS! BOOK! (and you’ll appreciate how beautiful the grammar of that statement is once you do.)

I just finished reading a great book, and I can’t go another second without telling you all about it. Seriously, it was that good. Heart-warming, funny, thoughtful and just a little bit weird – Lily and the Octopus was the perfect book for me to read to kick off the new year.

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If there is anything you need to know about me, it’s that I love dogs, I love reading, and I love crying. Well, maybe I don’t love crying, but I cry at just about everything. Especially when “everything” is dogs. Lily and the Octopus had me in tears as soon as the end of the first chapter, and I took that as a good sign.

If you don’t like crying, I don’t recommend this book to you – but if you don’t mind, you’re in for a treat.

I remember once in a playwriting class I wrote a monologue about my dog who had just died as a writing exercise . One of my classmates, instead of offering constructive criticism on the style or form of the monologue, just wrote, “No one cares about your dog.” OK. Thanks. It was pretty crushing – maybe no one else cared about my dog, but my dog mattered a lot to me! I wanted people to enjoy my writing, but I also wanted to write about things that mattered to me; it was hard to find balance between the two.

Steven Rowley has 100% succeeded in what I couldn’t figure out. As it turns out, I didn’t need to convince one grumpy guy that my dog’s death was worth writing about. People who get it just get it, and that’s enough. My hypothesis is that the relationship between a man and his dog in the book is so complex that it transcends whether or not someone likes dogs – the book is all about their relationship, not what species they are. I know how hard it is to say goodbye to a dog, and this book brought me back to that place in a really cathartic way. If you’re more of a cat person, you’ll have to let me know what you think of this book so that I can test my hypothesis!

I liked this book so much that I was grumpy walking it back to the library. I stood by the return box for a little while before gently dropping it in and bidding it adieu with a, “Bye, Lily.”

Have you read anything good yet in 2017? Let us know in the comments!

Peace and love,

Stephanie

 

On Yoga and Getting on the Mat

Melanie and I are both welcoming 2017 by (re)committing to our respective yoga practices. Our fave YouTube yoga guide, Yoga with Adriene, is hosting another 30 day schedule to kick off the New Year right! Since 2016’s been a bit of a whirlwind, we’re looking forward to the feelings of balance and groundedness that our yoga practice brings.

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A tree among trees

I tried this at the beginning of 2016, and I made my goal to do “yoga every darn day!” but I didn’t follow through quite as thoroughly as I wish I had. I think in order to keep my goal a bit more manageable, that beyond this yoga challenge I hope to continue to practice 3 times a week, hopefully with some jogging and other cardio on 3 other days throughout the week. I did so well on my 2016 goal to improve my diet that it’s time to incorporate the activity goal!

I started practicing yoga years ago – maybe in 2011? My brother had a coworker who was training to be a yoga teacher, and we were regularly attending her practice classes at our local yoga studio. I remember very vividly one adjustment she gave me: we were in a wide-legged forward fold (one of my favourite postures to this day) and she pressed her palm from the base of my spine to my neck to help me lengthen. It was such a hot room, and I was so sweaty, but I remember thinking it was amazing that she wasn’t shy to connect that way under the circumstances. In that moment I fell in love with something about yoga.

Through the years, my practice has been a bit of a rollercoaster. There are months where I practice 4 times a week, others where I don’t practice at all. I go through periods where all I want to do is build strength through yoga, and other periods where I really just need to chill out and relax on the mat. My goal this year is to be more consistent about the frequency of my practice – no more many-month hiatus’! I will not tolerate it! – but I’m very okay with the fact that the way I practice will forever be changing. Some days, weeks, months, years, I will be all about the power flow, and others I will just need to satisfy my yin craving. That’s all okay, because my yoga is about listening to myself and finding what feels good to me.

What I love about yoga is that it encourages me to check in. It’s an activity where I can’t help but notice what’s going on in my mental world. When I’m lying in savasana at the end of a hard practice, it’s impossible for me to ignore how I’m feeling. Some days the final resting pose is easy peasy and I’m able to turn off and just breath and relax; others, my mind races so fast that I could jump out of my skin. Both of those extremes are okay, and so is everything in between, and it informs the way that I move through the rest of my day.

I am lucky that right now I work at a yoga studio and get to observe the way a whole bunch of people practice, from teachers to seasoned yogis and new ones, too. I basically talk about yoga all day so it’s impossible for me to not learn something new to incorporate into my practice or ponder. Everyone has something different and important to teach me if I keep my mind open.

So – there’s my goal for the year: more activity, more yoga, and an open mind to accept that my practice will always be in flux. What do you want to do more of (or less of!) in the New Year? Share with us: we want to cheer you on!

Love,

Stephanie

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year!

To all our beautiful readers,

As the holidays approach, I just wanted to take a minute and say a few things I have come to understand over the past couple of weeks. The holidays are a beautiful time of year, a time we get to spend with family sharing stories and laughter, it’s the time of year where we get to give as much as we receive, it’s a time for blessings, a time to be grateful for all that we have, it’s a time of joy and peace and immense love. It’s also the time for new beginnings, of fresh starts, it’s the time of year where we get to press the refresh button and become who we truly believe ourselves to be and there is something so magical and inspiring about that. For some however, it can be a difficult time, as someone who struggles with mental health, I know that this time of year can be exhausting and emotionally straining, but it doesn’t mean that it still can’t be beautiful and special. It’s important to remember to take time for yourself, you are just as important as the people around you and deserve to give yourself some alone time and some gentle TLC. I read this quote recently, actually it’s more than a quote more of a statement, that we need to learn to fill our cup up first, like putting your mask on first in an airplane before you help those around you. You need to fill your cup up first, fill it with love, compassion, and kindness then allow the excess to spill over onto those around you. It’s not selfish to take time for yourself, to love yourself first, to be kind and compassionate to yourself. There is nothing more selfless than taking the time to make sure you are in a good place and allowing that goodness to spread to those around you because you are always more when you are whole. So take the time to nourish yourself even if it’s just for 5 minutes, make the most out of those 5 minutes because you deserve them. Also take the time to be grateful for all that you have this year, remember that the holidays are about more than presents, the perfect Christmas tree and delicious food. Choose to be grateful for the roof over your head, for the food filling your belly, for your body and all the miraculous things it does for you on a daily basis, for your loved ones, for the gifts given to you, be grateful for all the many beautiful blessings in your life. We all live blessed lives and sometimes we need to remind ourselves of that. Remind yourself that you live in a country that doesn’t take peace for granted, that allows us to think and speak openly and honestly, that allows us to love freely and more importantly, allows us the freedom to choose who we love. If we could all just take a minute this holiday season to remind ourselves of that, the world is that much closer to being a more loving place. Choose to be the light this holiday season, reach out and tell those closest to you that you love them, smile at strangers and always remember to be kind.

Our deepest wish for all of you this New Year is that you allow yourself the space to just be, to accept the present moment in all its glory, that you radiate light and love to those around you, that you believe in yourself as much as we believe in you, to be kind especially to those who have been unkind to you (choose to be the kinder person), to forgive yourself and those who have wronged you, to allow yourself the space to restart and decide who you want to be in this great big Universe. Remember that you are enough simply because you exist. You do not need to be more or less. Just be the glorious human that you are. Remember that you are worthy, that you are valued and that you are loved. Remember that you are an important part of this Universe and that your voice matters. Stand up for what you believe in. Choose your words and your actions wisely, have them come from a place of love and goodness in this new year. Remember that you are human, that you will make mistakes and fall on your face a couple of times. Choose to be strong, to get back up and to keep on fighting. You have 365 new opportunities to be the person you truly believe yourself to be, don’t waste them focusing on the past. Keep moving forward, one step at a time. Choose to be a positive force in this world. There is nothing more powerful than someone who is empowered to do good in this world, choose to do good. Be the change you wish to see in this new year and in the world. We are in this together, bring it on 2017!

Before we sign off, we just want to say a massive thank you to our readers, as we approach the new year and the one year anniversary of the blog we want to thank you SO much for taking time out of your day to read the words we write here and allowing them to have an impact. We receive so many kind words of support and encouragement and they are all immensely appreciated. We wouldn’t be here doing this without you beautiful humans so thank you! Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to share our thoughts and views openly and honestly. We hope to bring you more inspiring content in the New Year! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Wishing you all the happiest of holidays and all the best in 2017,

Melanie and Stephanie xo

 

 

On Facing Rejection

Hi everyone – it’s been a while! I’ve been all over the place mentally, trying to get my life in order. I don’t like saying it that way, because my life is pretty awesome, but sometimes it feels like everything is a mess and needs to be taped back together. I’m trying to keep myself on track in my health journey, trying to figure out how to get more activity into my days, trying to figure out how to find myself a sustainable job, and trying to generally feel balanced. They’re all lofty goals, and everything feels like it’s at risk of falling apart if I make the wrong move. I think it may benefit me to focus on one thing at a time – but sometimes life requires you to balance many changes at once!

For the purposes of this post, I can (and I want to!) focus on just one thing, and that’s facing rejection. I’ve done a whoooole lot of this in my short life, if only for one very specific reason: I did a heck of a lot of theatre during my University years, and while I have a lot of shows on my resume, I auditioned for a whole lot more than I got cast in. I got very used to hearing “no” – or, more accurately, hearing nothing at all after an audition and just having to assume I didn’t get it. Gradually the rejection in that context became easier and easier to stomach. I learned that it wasn’t always about me, and that there were myriad factors that played into whether I would be hired. And that was fine, because there was always another audition around the corner. The rejection was a hit to the ego, but once I got past the initial sting of “no” (or silence) I started to put myself out there more, and as a consequence I got offered more opportunities.

This doesn’t exactly translate to my current job search. For one, the stakes are a lot higher. I’m looking for something that I want to do every day that will also provide my livelihood. I’m very fortunate to have had a lot of savings and a lot of help, allowing me to prolongue the job-hunt as I work part-time. But as I’ve discovered in the last year, being rejected from something you really want (and need) doesn’t only sting – it burns.

I had a particularly nasty day on Monday, starting with a massive delay on my commute. Then, mid-day I received a highly anticipated follow-up from an interview I had last week: and it was a “no”. All of a sudden, all of the negative self-talk I’ve been shushing over the past few years bubbled up to the surface and just started firing at me willy-nilly. I had walked into that interview feeling good, and I left it feeling even better. I couldn’t see how they wouldn’t want to see me again. Over the next couple of days I second guessed some of my answers to their questions, but I was sure I would have a chance to prove myself again. When I got the “no” on Monday, I was full of confusion and uncertainty. I don’t feel better about it yet, per se, but I feel calmer. I’ll admit I drowned my sorrow in a ton of popcorn – which I didn’t want to do and did out of habit and compulsion – but my reaction could have been much worse.

I think hearing “no” is so hard in this context because I felt so GOOD about my performance. I was myself in the interview: I felt genuine, funny and like I fit in. I felt like I was, despite my relative youth and inexperience, able to do the job in question. And then, to find out it just wasn’t the right fit, my brain started going, “Why? Was it your personality? Did you make an inappropriate joke? Was your shirt gaping? Did you come off too keen?” Of course, all of a sudden I’m a loser, a fuck-up, an underachiever…and while I’m yelling all of these horrible things at myself, I’m also yelling at myself to “SHUT UP!” Instead of being kind to myself, I fought fire with fire. I’m lucky I had my partner and my mom to be the voice of calm during my little mental storm.

It’s hard to feel invincible and then be told you’re not, but that seems to be the reality of the job market: I may have to do a lot more interviews before I find “the One” (or “the One” for now.) As I move through my job search, I need to realize the lesson I learned while I pursued theatre in University: keep putting yourself out there, and the opportunities will come. The more people I meet, who find out who I am and what I’m about, the more doors will open for me. And each rejection, while a shock to the ego, is an opportunity to find something else and something that might be an even better fit.

Have any tips and tricks for getting over rejection? I’m still feeling kind of funky, so I’d love to read them in the comments.

Peace and love,

Stephanie