I recently have been reading Presence by Amy Cuddy, a book I stumbled across in one of the Little Libraries in Denver. And my gosh it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time in my life.
Three weeks ago, I saw my life unfolding before me. I knew the direction I wanted to go, and how I was going to get there. Then, life took a turn and BOOM. Just like that, my everything shifted in a matter of one sentence. In that moment, I was overly concerned about what was to come next. How would I reposition my life, yet again for the millionth time, to continue going after what I wanted?
I tried sorting out the finer details. Getting an apartment, moving all of my belongings to the fourth apartment in under a year (believe me, I know how absurd that sounds just writing it, but that’s where my path has taken me). But I woke up on Saturday, February 13, 2021 and cried, and cried, and cried. I cried because I knew, in that exact moment sitting on my bed, exactly what I needed for the present.
I needed support, and I wasn’t going to get it sitting on that bed.
With my car packed up with all of the belongings I could fit into it, I drove to Massachusetts to be with my best friend. I drove 28 hours through a winter storm coming across the entire country.
I was racing the storm.
Now I’m here, sitting on the floor next to the heater to stay warm, writing this post across the country. So why do I bring up imposter syndrome?
Because I have been living it every single day, and Amy Cuddy is calling me out on my shit.
To explain, imposter syndrome isn’t just trying to be something you’re not. Imposter syndrome is also the dynamic that you continue to tell yourself the narrative that you’re an imposter, that you don’t belong, that your accomplishments are not of value and soon enough, someone will catch on and say, “Hey! You’re a fake! You’re a fraud! You’re not an author because your words mean nothing in comparison to those who are far more successful than you! I’ve caught you in the act!”
In publishing my first novel, In Body I Trust, was not only an accomplishment towards one of my greatest life goals to date, but it was also a triumph in vulnerability, sharing my darkest moments with the world in hopes that others can see that they are not alone in the way they feel, in continuing the conversation about mental health to normalize it, and that there are means of support beyond what we realize.
But as people began telling me, “Wow! This is incredible! You wrote a book and you should be so proud of yourself,” all I could think was, “I’m a fraud. I’m skimming by. I’m not an author, I’m a girl who put a bunch of words on paper and eventually they’ll see me for who I really am…a failure.”
But the truth is, I am far from a failure. And neither are you.
I can look at myself in the mirror and say, “I not only wrote a book, but I created, designed, and distributed this creation of love for myself from start to finish. I STILL have power over my eating disorder and depression regardless of how insane my situation may look on the outside.”
That does not make me an imposter. That makes me a human being who is going after her dreams and goals. It makes me an author who once set the bar based on the validity of others or numbers on a screen that determined the ‘success’ of my books. I am a woman who persevered through hurtful people who have belittled me, lied to me, doubted me, devalued me, and disrespected me.
I belong here. I am supposed to be here. I am not an imposter. I am an author.
There will be days I doubt myself, because I am human after all with feelings and shit. But at the end of the day, I am not a failure. I am the last one standing.
What I hope for you today is this: I hope that you can take a minute to look at yourself directly in the mirror without averting your eyes and say to yourself out loud for you to hear, “I love you. I am proud of you. You belong here.”
Hey, I’m Lauren Dow. Author, advocate, and feeler of the big feels. I’m here to provide a safe space to normalize the conversation about mental health and reinforce self-love. Thanks for joining me on this wild ride.