I’ll let you in on a little secret. Everyone is an imposter. It’s not just the people who feel like they are an imposter, but literally everyone is an imposter. Nobody fits into every situation every time. It’s just not possible. Even if you are a social, intellectual, spiritual, and technical chameleon, nobody can change fast enough or often enough to never have to fake it at some point.
Being an imposter isn’t bad, though.
Taking a leap into an environment that is not your norm is going to mean breaking into some group, team, or other engagement. You’re going to feel awkward. It’s going to be middle school all over again. Or worse, high school. Everyone feels awkward. Especially that one person who is loud, obnoxious, and spends their time pointing out the faults of the other people on the team. Don’t be that person, but also don’t spend time working to align with that person. Find the person who makes people stronger. Find the person who sees a problem but then sees multiple ways to fix it. Better yet, be that person! If everyone feels awkward then make it easier to break down those barriers instead of accentuating them.
Sometimes, being an imposter happens quite by accident. You get invited to participate on a project and you have no idea why. You get invited to a social event with a group of people who you don’t know. Take this advice: be you. During Parent-Teacher Interviews, my son’s senior year art teacher told us, “Kids can’t be successful until they find their people.” That is sage advice and it doesn’t just apply to kids. If you give up your genuine self then you will forever be an imposter. However, if you present the real you then you’ll discover how the group works, or does not work, with you as part of the team. The dissonance of pretending to be someone that you are not perpetuates that imposter syndrome and will rob you of the peace you need to be successful.
Embrace your inner imposter! It’s okay. It really is. Everyone else is doing it, or should be doing it. Break into those teams, opportunities, or groups with the real you. Then, and only then, will you find that you weren’t really an imposter after all—just a friend, teammate, or colleague in the making.