Saturday, June 2, 2012

Fear of Failure and the Impostor Syndrome

After getting away and spending some time catching up on rest, I feel so much better. I realize that the emotions I've been experiencing since the end of the festival aren't that out of the ordinary. This morning I was looking back over pictures on Facebook and my intention was to recap all of the things that I've done over the past few months. I realized not only that I have been all over the place, giving it my all, but also that I had missed watching a video that James' mom posted (and tagged me in) on her timeline. I think if I had watched it and really listened to the words, I might have avoided some tears and my closest friends would have been spared my extreme, sleep deprived range of emotions.

I'll place the video below. I think everyone who is brave enough to attempt to create something should watch it because the advice is on point, and "creating something" can include anything from starting a business or solving a problem to making a piece of art. In my mind, it's all art. The most inspiring thing to me in this video was when Neil Gaiman talked about feeling as if you were walking down the street, naked and exposed and that being the point when you were just getting started. I feel that way. I feel like there are people who are watching what James and I are doing, cheering us on and lending support. I have also experienced people out there who are just waiting for us to fail, telling us that we can't do everything that we have dreamed about.

The point is, I know I'm no celebrity or superstar, but I feel like there are more and more people watching and that leaves me feeling exposed. I worry about what people think because I want to do everything I can to help Sixtwelve thrive. Usually while James is the one saying we can do anything, I'm in the other seat worrying that we're going to break a rule or turn someone off that could potentially help us. I believe that the higher the quality of this creation, the more people we can serve and the more goodness we can put out into the world. But who is to say that James is wrong? In fact, I'm now more inclined to think that he's the one who should be leading this project because he is the one that has gotten us to this point through all of the Historic Preservation staff and commission meetings, all of the City Planning staff and commission meetings and all of the City Council meetings. He has faced his fears and has boldly asked for things that have never been done before (or at least in the combination we are planning.) He has believed so vehemently in what we are doing that he hasn't backed down. And we have patiently waited until we get the result that we believe is best. James inspires me to believe we can do this.

I love people. I love to make people happy. It makes me happy to give that to others, but the truth is, I have to quit thinking about what other people think and I have to realize that Gaiman is right. We're doing something that is different from what anyone else in this community has done, so we are making up the rules as we go along. Maybe that's why I can identify with Gaiman talking about the impostor syndrome. For about two weeks after graduation, I had this fear that my committee had just passed me because I was nice or that my thesis wasn't really that great and that someone would figure it out and take back my degree. Isn't that crazy? But it explains why I would worry about us being given permission for incredible things, and then the city changing its mind. I'm no sustainability guru. In fact, I'm no education guru, but I care. I want to see a change in the way things are done because I believe people need something different than the status quo. I believe that we all need encouragement to live healthy, educated lives.

I think the key is just to do what you're going to do, do it well and see what happens. In the meantime, I'm being stretched so far beyond what I ever thought I could do and thanks to the different abilities James and I possess, we're doing it! Hopefully, people will find inspiration in that, regardless of what the future holds. I'm grateful for this opportunity and I will not ever give it up. I will give everything I've got to this dream because I believe it's what people need. It's exciting and scary all at the same time, but that's the adventure of life, isn't it? Thank goodness I have a great friend who is taking the ride with me, encouraging me to be strong and to ignore that Impostor Syndrome. I can't wait to see what we can accomplish if I can learn to ignore the negative voices (from outside and inside my own head) and to embrace the courage to trust the positive ones. That's the intention and direction I'm setting for myself.

Watch this video and be inspired. I dare you.

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