A Bit 'o Random Musings on Politics, Religion, and Anything Else That Passes Through My Crazy Head

Monday, February 10, 2014

Today's the Day

Recently, my favorite satirical newspaper, The Onion, had an article titled "Today The Day They Find Out You're a Fraud." Around the same time, my friend made a comment that struck me - she said I appeared very confident. The comment struck me particularly because that day I had felt particularly UN-confident and incapable of doing anything right. In fact, I had felt that at any moment people would discover what a fraud and sham I was.

This correlates with a passage in Sheryl Sandberg's "Lean In," where she describes a talk she heard while in college. The speaker stated that "...many people, but especially women, feel fraudulent when they are praised for their accomplishments. Instead of feeling worthy of recognition, they feel undeserving and guilty, as if a mistake has been made. Despite being high achievers, even experts in their fields, women can't seem to shake the sense that it is only a matter of time until they are found out for they really are - impostors with limited skills or abilities."

Sandberg describes her feelings: "every time I was called on in class, I was sure that I was about to embarrass myself. Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn't embarrass myself-or even excelled-I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day the jig would be up."

I lack confidence, and totally identify with Sandberg's experience. But it also reminds me of what "confidence" is, which I learned by reading "This is How" by Augusten Burroughs. He states that "if you want to be more confident, you do not need to add anything to your personality or skill level. In fact, you already have too much of something. Because confidence is not the presence of anything at all. Confidence is a reduction of your own interest in whether others are thinking about you and if so, what they're thinking...Confidence is not something you feel or possess; it's something others use to describe what they see when the look at you" (This is How, pages 63-64).

That description was a revelation to me - confidence is about not worrying what people think. I have a really hard time doing that, because I want to be the person that everyone thinks well of. Sometimes I think I want to be thought of as X (generous, kind, loving, cheerful, etc.) more than I actually want to BE X. The problem with that is that I waste so much time and energy worrying about what other people think instead of actually developing X qualities. I need to STOP IT.

A scene from a Julia Roberts movie illustrates this. She's an indecisive bride who likes her eggs the way that the other people around her like them. It's emblematic of her lack of knowledge of what she wants.

From "Runaway Bride," With Richard Gere and Julia Roberts

So, get out there and decide what kind of eggs you want! Don't worry about people thinking you're a fraud, because that's just a waste of worry.


  1. Impostor Syndrome. I totally have it too. It's debilitating.

  2. I know that feeling. Anyway, I really like that take on confidence too. Great share!

  3. We must be on the same wave length. Totally feel this way and we just watched Runaway Bride last night. Thanks for sharing this. You are truly a dear.