WLHQ: Silencing Your Inner Impostor
Truth be told, I hate blogging. I don’t read a lot of blogs, I have tried and failed twice to start my own, and I display Olympic caliber procrastination when I’m supposed to be writing one. Despite all my vocalized ranting about health, lifestyle, body positivism, feminism, realism, why everybody is getting everything wrong all of the time, etc., I just can’t seem to sit down and write about it. The thing that trips me up more than anything is the fear of coming off like I know what I’m talking about, when I really don’t – of attempting to elucidate issues that are so important to me, and about which I have so many opinions, and sounding like a complete dumbass. The defeatist in me sits on my shoulder, opposite the confident optimist, telling me that I’m undereducated on the topic, that I’m pretty much super dumb, and that everybody will know if I try to talk about this stuff, so I should probably just shut it and go watch Netflix. Obviously no good, but you know, fear is really good at it’s job.
This blog post, for example, was going to be about body positivism. (If you don’t know about the body positive movement, please look it up, and then let’s talk about it offline some time. I want to hear all your thoughts!) I had a conversation with my roommate as I was struggling to write it that went something like this:
Roomy: What’s your blog post about?
Me: Uuuuugugggghghgughgug. I’m trying to write about body positivism, and how all kinds of bodies are yoga bodies, and how “the perfect yoga body” is whatever body you have while you’re doing yoga… but like, who am I to educate Wanderlust yogis about body positivism? I’m no expert, and I probably haven’t read enough about it, and it can be a touchy topic, and I’ll probably end up saying the wrong thing and insulting somebody and guuuuuhhhhhhhghghguhgughg.
Roomy: But you know about that stuff. I’m sure you have some good things to say.
Me: Not really, it just seems like I do because I have a couple of unfounded opinions.
Roomy: DUDE. That’s a thing. It’s called Impostor Syndrome. Look it up.
So I looked it up and read a few things, including this article by Roomy’s friend, the brilliant Ann Friedman. As Friedman explains, Impostor Syndrome is, “…a phenomenon in which people—usually high-achieving professionals—don’t consider themselves qualified for their position and convince themselves that they’ve cheated their way into it. It doesn’t matter how much work they’ve put in or how much experience they’ve acquired.” Well that’s certainly familiar. How many successful, qualified people (unfortunately, more often than not, women) have you met who treat their success with a level of worried surprise, like, “heh heh, how did I get here? I don’t deserve this.” I’ve heard more than a handful of high-achiever-type yogis display this same self-doubt about their abilities to honor the practice that they’ve devoted their lives to. Most of the time, these people are beyond qualified to practice, honor, teach, and be general bosses (both in the BOSS kind of way, and, like, an actual boss) in their field. Another win for fear. Sigh.
So I learned all about Impostor Syndrome, but I was still unsure of my ability to write about body positivism in a helpful, respectful, preferably mind-blowing and enlightening way.
In my continued procrastination, I happened upon a snippet from the Tavi Gevinson interview with Lorde (read the full interview HERE and get hip to the teens, y’all) and Tavi said something that gave me a tiny little brain explosion. On writing about feminism, she said:
“It can be so delicate and hard to navigate that sometimes I just feel like, “I never want to write about this again, because how can you ever know enough? How can you ever have read enough to be able to talk about this in the right way?” What I’ve learned is that the answer isn’t to retreat into ignorance, but to find the ways in which it’s important to you and talk about that and help other women talk about their experiences too.”
Nailed it, Tavster. That feeling of being undereducated, of doubting your own knowledge and not wanting to say the wrong thing, only holds you and the issue back. Feminism needs the opinion of teenagers to keep the conversation going. Body Positivism needs the opinion of yogis to expand the conversation. We all need to keep talking about the stuff that fascinates us, or makes our blood boil, or fills us with a sense of potential, or makes us rant! Look at this! I’m ranting right now! I’m so stoked on the idea of talking about stuff that I’m stoked about, that it’s making me rant!!
So, I’m not actually going to write about body positivism today, but I would like to invite all y’all to consider this timeless, yet somehow very 21st century problem. With great internet comes great responsibility, but I hope that doesn’t scare you away from bravely writing or speaking about your thoughts on big, intimidating issues. I hope you keep writing yoga blogs, and meditations on Buddhist detachment in 2014 New York City (actually, can someone please write something about that?), and feminist think pieces, and tips for mindful living (but no more lists, okay?).
Yes, there are experts at work on these topics, writing masterpieces, being brilliant… but there is so much more to know, and so many more ways to reach your community and get them thinking and arguing. Let’s release the fear and self-doubt, keep learning, and keep talking!
~Lydia Berg-Hammond is a Brooklyn-based music lover, yogini, and self-proclaimed Half Hippie (because full hippie is too intense). Her work with Wanderlust as Partnership Manager has renewed the commitment to healthy living that her parents instilled in her comin' up on the mean streets of Chicago. You can spot her at Wanderlust racing around the sponsor village, playing ukulele, and dominating the dance floor.