I had written about not feeling good enough back in July, and thought I’d revisit the topic. I’ve noticed in between these two posts that feeling like an imposter comes and goes. That feeling has never really left, to be honest. It’s like it’s taken a vacation knowing that it will come back with regained strength.
I’ve been ready for it, though. Just yesterday, I was about to browse through strangers’ LinkedIn profiles fully aware that I would push myself into a downward spiral of guilt and inadequacy – but as soon as I knew what was about to happen, I stopped myself. It was one of the strangest “about to” encounters I’ve ever had with my ego. Yes, I was proud of myself, and that I had come a long way in how I compare myself with others… But I knew deep down that I could be better, and fully rise above that downward spiral and avoid that cliff fall into what we know as the imposter syndrome.
Which brings me to this video of Natalie Portman delivering the commencement address to Harvard graduates. She talks about going through the various stages of life (school and work and the transitions in between) and how she had a nagging feeling about how she wasn’t good enough to be where she was.
We’ve all been there. I had felt the same way when I was in school and other students talked to the professor at the same intellectual level, while I struggled to complete the readings. I had felt the same way when I started any job and saw how much of a family my colleagues had, while I felt like an outsider about to push the boundaries. Whenever these situations arose, I did my best to be as likeable and hard-working as possible. Often, those two things conflicted, especially when it came to my relationships with co-workers and superiors. Achieving a balance only came naturally when I was able to be myself.
“The only thing you can be the best at is developing your own self.”
This one line from Natalie Portman’s speech really stood out for me. I’ve always thought that being brave enough to be yourself was one of the most spectacular things that a human being could achieve. And developing your own self takes a while – often a lifetime – to accomplish. But is it ever worth it!