Have you ever felt like an imposter?
Like you were just waiting for everyone to notice that you don’t really belong because you’re too…
- talk too much
- insert any other self-deprecating descriptor?
I know I felt like an imposter the first time I tried CrossFit. My very first class I stared at the sweaty, intent faces listening to the coach pointing at the whiteboard and wondered when they’d tell me to leave because, clearly, I didn’t belong.
That first workout was brutal. I could barely step up on a box, sit ups destroyed me, and the row machine was so foreign that if a hole had opened up in the Earth beneath me I would have fallen in with the tiniest murmur of thanks.
I finished that first workout bent over, holding my knees, feeling my breath tear in and out of my lungs. I’d done horribly. I knew it. It was middle school dodgeball all over again. I could even smell the red rubber of the ball right before it smacked me in the face. I should just let everyone laugh at me, crawl back to bed, and snuggle up with a bottle of ibuprofen.
Then the first person clapped. And the second person. And soon the whole class was clapping. Then the tightness in my chest wasn’t me trying to breathe – it was me trying not to cry.
I heard “good job!” and “you didn’t quit!” and “atta girl! You kept moving.”
I got my first sweaty fist bumps that day. Giving fist bumps felt odd, too. I’d never been asked to fist bump anyone. I felt included, part of something really great. Which was also new. I grinned like a sweaty, red-faced fool and, still, waited for them to realize that I didn’t actually belong there.
Except I did.
And so do you.
Imposter syndrome is very real, and very crippling. It’s a shameful burn that washes over you. It’s a shrinking feeling. It’s the thought, “I’m just not good enough.”
You can feel imposter syndrome anywhere. At the gym, at the office, in a grad school class. I still have imposter syndrome in the kitchen every time I make something more complicated than tacos.
If you’ve ever compared yourself and how much (or how little) you could lift to other people at a gym you’ve felt imposter syndrome.
If you’ve ever looked for someone, anyone, weaker or more out of shape than yourself, you’ve felt imposter syndrome.
And, as if the gym wasn’t hard enough already, if you’ve ever defeated yourself because you were supposed to be focused on your own workout, but instead you just obsessed about how inadequate you are, you’ve felt imposter syndrome.
Here’s the thing about imposter syndrome: it doesn’t have to control you.
How do you get past it? Keep moving.
Take the next step. And then the next one. And the one after that. Acknowledge your setbacks and start over. Get good at one thing, feel on top of the world, then try something new and feel like a failure.
Tell your imposter syndrome that it’s welcome to come along for the ride (because you know it will anyway), but banish it to the back seat – it doesn’t get to drive the car.
Sometimes I still feel like an imposter at the gym. On October 23rd, Eximo is hosting their own in-house competition and I signed up. I’m equal parts excited and terrified. After two years of CrossFit I’ve gotten better, a lot better, but I’ve never done a competition. It never even crossed my mind to try because:
“I’m not good enough.”
“I’m too slow.”
“I can’t keep up with everyone else.”
“What if there are teams and what if I hold mine back?”
“Who do I think I am anyway?”
But I remember that first day. I know the community at Eximo. I know not one of them will care about any of these things.
I told my imposter syndrome to take a back seat. I’m driving this car. I hope you’ll ride along.