When I first heard the term “imposter syndrome,” I think it must have been at least two years ago. I made some assumptions about the phrase. Today, it’s pretty common in the self-help and coaching community, which I’m not a very big fan of for couple of reasons:
- I worked in that industry for a brief time under an international life coach, and I feel like it totally lifted the veil and let me see that some of the bigger names really are doing a whole lot more “faking it” than “making it.”
- Self help has a lot of negative connotations because lots of people like to share the motivational quotes and never put them into action. (I am very guilty of this.)
At the time, I heard the term and though, “Oh yeah, I probably have that.” I made the assumption that imposter syndrome meant feeling like you’re under-qualified, like there is someone out there better suited to do what you do. While that would make sense, it took me two years and accidentally stumbling across a little known podcast to realize what it actually meant. SPOILER ALERT: it’s completely different. (Also, if this post has a lot of typos, chalk it up to authenticity. It’s late, and I’m exhausted.)
Imposter syndrome isn’t specific to work and career-related matters. If you’ve ever seen someone doing something you want to be doing, whether it’s living the lifestyle you’ve always wanted, starting a business that you’ve always dreamed of, or even just existing in your desired aesthetic, you’ve probably fallen victim to it. You see things that you deem desirable, adminrable, or aspirational. You copy them, sometimes inadvertently. And next thing you know, things aren’t falling into place like they did for XYZ person. Are you not doing it right? You did all the same things they did. You followed all the steps. You created the same mood board. Where did you go wrong?
I fell HARD into this trap, but not with my career. I fell into mommy imposter syndrome. I wasn’t identifying with motherhood at all. I dreaded waking up every single day, because I didn’t know how I was going to feed and entertain my child by myself. I filled my Instagram feed with other young moms to see what they were doing. I watched day in the life videos on YouTube. I researched sensory play activities until my eyes bled. I would latch onto one or two mommy influencers at a time and copy everything they did, from making the same meals to wearing the same style of clothes. I would even try to match up their daily schedules to ours to see which was the best fit.
None of it was working. Annie would spit out the food I made her and throw it on the ground. I tried to wake up at 5 am to work out and spend some me time, but I felt like I was going to die by 9. I was trying so hard to fit myself and my child into someone else’s life template that I totally forgot what made us unique and special in the first place.
Where you are, what you have, who you are is ENOUGH.
And it’s not just one thing. But AB is one in a million. And she changes all the time. She needs routine, but she also needs freedom to explore. So, trying to schedule out our every day around YouTube sensory play activities I found was not going to work for her. Besides, she was really too young to be doing most of them anyway.
The scariest part about all of this was that I was convincing myself that I ABSOLUTELY HAD to have another child. I needed to be pregnant, and fast. We needed to expand our family and give Annie a playmate. Nevermind the fact that we barely have the money to provide for our single child right now, or the fact that I’m barely able to get what little work I have freelancing done as it is. We needed a second baby, logic be damned!
Needless to say, I’m glad we moved on from that.
(By the way, we would absolutely love to have a second baby and look forward to it in the future, but we have a few goals we’d like to meet first.)
All this is to say that, if you find yourself falling into the comparison trap, modeling your life to fit someone else’s mold, you should know that where you are, what you have, who you are is ENOUGH. There will always be people with more kids, bigger houses, babysitters, nannies, play groups, pools, theater rooms, adorable bento box lunches, and designer puppies that never poop on the floor. They will clutter your newsfeeds and cloud your judgement. But where you are right now is something to be really proud of, and your baby doesn’t need anything else.
NEW VIDEO: Day In The Life of a Work From Home Mom, PLUS talking mommy imposter syndrome
How I’m Dealing With Mommy Imposter Syndrome
- Letting my child cry. I still freak out when Annie cries. She’s 13 months old and the sound of it still makes my soul leave my body. It’s insane. But I’m trying to remind myself that, just like we need to have a friend listen to us vent sometimes, babies just need a good cry around their mama. So, I’m there to listen. And I will resist the urge to Google, ask on my Instagram stories, or call a mom friend to see if she magically knows what’s wrong.
- Listening to cues. In regards to #1, I think it’s easy to forget that we know more about our babies than anyone else. I pick up on things easily, and I know the difference between a gas whine and a hunger whine and a sleepy whine. I’m really making a conscious effort to stop and observe more rather than just jumping to irrational thoughts. (I.e.: ‘My child whines more than others. What are other moms doing that I’m not?’)
- Conscious exposure. I still love to watch YouTube videos. But making them has made me more conscious of what is going on behind the scenes. When Annie is upset, my first instinct isn’t to pick up my camera. She’s going through something and needs my full attention, and it would be cruel of me to use that moment for clickbait on the Internet. I know there are lots of moms out there that feel the same way, and that’s why we’re only seeing the highlights on social media. Time to throw out the rose colored glasses.