You are a high achiever. Your work speaks for itself to everyone, except perhaps to you. You are exhausted by constantly doubting your abilities, second-guessing your decisions, and feeling like a victim of circumstances. Do you struggle to find your place in a group or feel inadequate when comparing yourself to others? Many of us experience self-doubt and insecurity, but it can become a constant battle that hinders personal growth and professional success for some. Identifying and understanding our imposter experience is the first step towards harnessing its power and unlocking our true potential.
It is common to encounter articles, speeches, and workshops that reinforce the notion that we must relieve ourselves of the burden of what is commonly called imposter syndrome, yet very few popular publications address the nature of imposter syndrome adequately. Audiences are encouraged to distance and deny themselves from their fears without being shown how to process the truth that allows their fears to thrive.
A shadow can only be cast where both light and a physical object exist in space. Our fears operate similarly. We serve as a light source, and our environment provides energy that fuels us. Fears are objects hiding in a seemingly empty space, creating shadows in the background.
Even if we agree to remove the shadow, we cannot cover it. If we cover the shadow, it will be cast on the object we place in front of it. If we merely move the light from the thing that has produced the shape of the shadow, then we must commit to keeping that object out of the light, burying it even if it has great potential to serve us and our greater purpose. Worse still, if we choose to back away from the object, we only make the shadow bigger.
Some choose to dim their lights to reduce the shadow, avoiding advancement beyond what we can easily see themselves accomplishing. Some choose to redirect their light, constantly fearful that others might shine theirs on the object of their fears. I believe there is a better way. Borrowing from the great mind of Toni Morrison, we can romance the shadow. By embracing the parts of ourselves we fear, granting each part of ourselves the right to be seen in the light, we allow our shadows to offer us dimensions unique to our truths and lived experiences.
This handbook-style guide is meant to be your companion to learning the foundations of the impostor phenomenon, understanding how it works, and discovering how to use those facts to empower yourself. The three-step system is a course in self-directed reflection that will help to uncover the roots of the fears that support your feelings of impostorism and teach you how to use them as an anchor to keep you steady in the face of psychological storms.
If you are ready to see yourself as you are and embrace the whole of who you are, even the parts that might bring you feelings of disgrace, guilt, or isolation, then you are the ideal reader for this book. A transformative experience can lead you to a more profound empathy for yourself and others who struggle with the impostor phenomenon.
Sonia David was inspired to write this book after noticing that impostor syndrome cut across many groups facing discrimination and exclusion and people who held positions of power. Sonia realized in her leadership journey that, to change systems, we must both address the structures in place and reach the people the system comprises. Sonia delights in teaching high-achievers from all walks of life who struggle to master their disguise how to take their negative thoughts and narratives and put them to work for us for good.