Imposter syndrome is defined as the feeling of being somewhere you don’t belong, when in actuality the feeling is a false reading of the situation.
In 2012 I was awarded a TED Fellowship. I had to give a talk following an award winning New York Times photographer, and a lawyer who was building a law school for death row prisoners in Uganda to subvert the corruption in the system their by providing the inmates with the tools to defend themselves.
I felt totally out of place. Until I looked around the room, and chatted with a few other fellows, and realized that everyone felt the same way!
Everyone was nervous, super impressed by everyone else, and doubting their own confidence and worth.
This is an extreme case, but the power dynamics of certain situations and our own imaginations can allow complete lies to enter our minds – your not worthy of this room, you don’t belong here, no one is going to like you, etc.
If we believe that every human being has the gift of life and that that gift, in and of itself, should be honored, that is all we need for our baseline of worth.
Now, if we find ourselves in situations that are new on account of a particular work we have been pursuing let us not judge ourselves worthy or not. That is for others to decide. Let us simply continue the work. We can trust that we are in that situation because we are tasked with at least bearing witness to the gifts we have received (and of course the giver) that have brought us this far.
And that’s enough to belong in the room.