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

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

  1. Hi Stephanie,

    I’m right with you on this feeling. I have lost 40 lbs going from size 16 to a size 6 in 10 months and I’m still not secure in my new body shape.

    I don’t have any words of wisdom, but this is what I’m doing while I try to feel comfortable:

    -be aware of negative self talk that creeps into my consciousness. Accept the thought and then question the truth of the negativity
    -challenge myself with new activities and see how I can actually do things. (As simple as standing on one foot to put my socks on, or as hard as jumping into a spin class to try it out)
    -acknowledge the changes and celebrate them (yay, I didn’t fall on the ice, but was able to regain balance)

    And I’m not sure about this, but I have to admit that in my heart I still feel a real kinship to women who are clearly struggling with weight issues. Almost like “I’m on your team and I know how you’re feeling right now because I have struggled also”.

    Well maybe that’s not imposter syndrome. Maybe that’s empathy.

    Take care and enjoy your journey.

    Claire.

    Liked by 1 person

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