Imposter Syndrome

Come In From The Cold


Do you ever feel like a tourist in your own life? 

And not in a fun "Oh isn't my life exciting?!" kind of way. More like a feeling of maybe not quite fitting in, or just being on the outside looking in. 

I have a particular affinity for a Joni Mitchell song called "Come in From the Cold", and of course the lyrics are amazing, because Joni Mitchell is a ridiculously talented artist, but also because a chorus proclaiming "All I ever wanted was just to come in from the cold..." really speaks to me in a way I can't quite put my finger on. 

This vague 'outside looking in' feeling persists in most situations, and has, for most of my life. Feeling like a guest instead of at ease when visiting family in states I no longer call home. Not feeling queer enough in LGBTQ spaces because I'm married to a man and so it isn't apparently obvious that I'm not straight. Feeling a little out of place in the leadership team at my 9-5 work because I don't have a college degree, don't own a single power suit, and am not particularly good at networking. Feeling like an outsider in creative circles because I get nervous around large groups of people, particularly people I feel are considerably more talented and successful than I am, and so have a hard time not just reverting to quiet observation instead of interaction.

I don't know what makes that feeling go away. I thought it would be achieving some measure of success, so I would feel "legitimate", but, unless I just haven't hit the right level of success yet, I don't think that's it. So, if it's not success that makes imposter syndrome go away, then how does one overcome that uncomfortable feeling of not belonging? Asking for a friend. (Just kidding, all my friends have their shit together way more than I do, or at least are very confident in not having their shit together). 

I wish I knew what the magic combination of success, confidence, talent, and stick-to-itiveness is that makes one feel like they have a definitive right to take up space in circles they would be otherwise welcome in, save for their own inhibitions and fears. Since I don't have that recipe yet, I'm just taking it one step at a time. I'm attending regular creative entrepreneur meetings, I'm having fun with our photography clients and continually learning better ways to serve them, I'm attending Pride parades and equality marches, I'm doing my best at my daytime work to not feel like a fraud, though I draw the line at purchasing un-ironic power suits. And what else can one do really, besides keep moving forward? 

What do you do that helps you when imposter syndrome comes on strong or when you feel like an outsider? If you do nothing else, just remember that you're not alone.