In a time when everyone’s best self is presented to the world on the internet, it can be easy to feel unworthy. It is necessary for us all to go easy on ourselves and prioritize self-confidence over perfection.
I have consistently failed at many pursuits I’ve taken on in my life, including volleyball, basketball, gymnastics, cheerleading, dancing, singing, visual art and calculus - or any math, really.
The only activities I have kept up with since I could do them are reading and writing. Even now, with awards, published work and countless pats on the back, I can’t truly feel like I’m good at anything without feeling like a fraud.
For others, this immense feeling of inadequacy despite having great achievements, otherwise known as impostor syndrome, can manifest in similar ways. Perhaps you feel underqualified for a new job, or you feel like the dumbest person in your class. Maybe you think you’re not good-looking or funny enough to be with your current partner.
Somehow, quarantine has made impostor syndrome even worse. Even in a global crisis, the utilitarian hustle and bustle doesn't seem to stop. There is this conception that while we’re all cooped up at home, we are supposed to be toiling away at our desks trying to write the next great American novel, start a business, become bakers or get absolutely shredded by following YouTube workouts.
There’s no shame in wanting to use an unprecedented time of stagnation to become better at something. But I know I wasn’t the only one feeling wholly unmotivated to create anything throughout 2020, especially after the death of George Floyd and the following protests for the Black Lives Matter movement.
People were losing loved ones and putting their lives out on the line for months. I thought, who was I to throw my silly little stories into a thrashing sea full of think pieces and frontline reporting? The fear of setting out to produce something great and being so shamefully bad at it is paralyzing, even when you’ve been successful.
In Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” specifically Greta Gerwig’s superior film adaptation, aspiring artist Amy March said, “talent isn’t genius, and no amount of energy can make it so. I want to be great, or nothing.”
This line, while serving as a great display of adult Amy’s defiant refusal to ever settle for less, is also a sad illustration of the artist’s plight. If you can’t be the best, why try at all? Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you’ll be the best, or even good, at what you do.
At the end of the day, we all must recognize our worth and celebrate our hard-earned accomplishments. This radical self-love in the face of adversity and feelings of loneliness can be the one thing to get you through a hard day.
To anyone who has ever felt like an impostor: trust me when I say you have not accomplished what you have for no reason.
What you think of yourself matters. What you can do with your words, your voice, your best qualities, matters. And all the people who have patted you on the back singing your praises were not lying.
I know we’re all tired of hearing this line, but these are strange times we’re living in. Even with vaccines and the turning of political tides, hope and motivation can be hard to come by.
The internal and external pressure we put on ourselves to be perfect is especially damaging in a time like this. It is necessary for us all to go easy on ourselves and prioritize self-love and care over perfection.