Sure. I did Code 101 and was fine. But orientation for 201 at Code Fellows intensive program for software development felt like higher stakes - we began with going around the circle (about fifteen students) introducing ourselves and talking a little bit about our backgrounds. The guy next to me began with how he created and animated video games in his free time. From scratch. I…take naps and teach yoga in my free time. And I had just quit my full-time-very-well-paid nanny job and taken out a loan to enroll in the day time track for iOS Development. Now I was wondering if that was a rash decision? Like for real, why did I do that? How long til everyone here realized that I was “a sweetheart, but just not going to make it bless her heart” as a developer?
Enter Brandy Rhodes, Director of the Seattle Code Fellows campus. She was petite, but had the same strong kick as a good shot of whiskey - her orientation lecture woke all of us up. As soon as she started talking about the Imposter Syndrome, she had everyone’s undivided attention. “Imposter Syndrome is where you think that you aren’t intelligent enough, qualified enough, or fill-in-the-blank enough to be where you are. And you’re just faking your way through anything that goes right until you’re exposed for the fraud that you really are.”
Okay settle down there, Brandy with all these insights into my soul.
She continued, “Some of you might feel this way as you progress into this intensive course, and it’s important to see it for what it really is - a lie that holds you back.”
I used this story as my opening for my vinyasa class that night, “Hi, my name is Rae and I most always feel like an imposter. Even when I’m teaching you all here there’s a voice in my head wondering how long I can keep you from realizing that I don’t know enough about anatomy to be a real yoga teacher - my main method of distracting you from discovering this fact is shoulder presses and neck rubs in savasana.” But also maybe, one of the reasons that I keep coming back to practice yoga is because slowing down my breath/movements helps me to slow down the panic-imposter-anxiety in my mind. It’s a clearing of space. And I can hear the voice that says, “WHO CARES what the freak other people think. You have a lot to offer. And you’ve got this.”
I haven’t done or been or said a lot of things that I’ve wanted to because I have this weird thing where it needs to be perfect and authentic or I just retreat and put a wall up (irony though right, trying to be real but real isn't perfect so in the pursuit and worry of true authenticity I draw back into a guarded space that isn't real at all). Blogging is one of them. I’d rather not do it because holding back with the excuse of “I just need the time to do it right” and NOT doing it is way safer than actually doing it and then having it fail. Or not be as good as somebody else’s blog. Or have people think that I’m not a good writer. Or something...I've kind of been like that old lady character that Jane Austen wrote about, the one who kept looking for affirmation because she was just sure that she would’ve been an amazing concert pianist IF she had ever tried.
Pretty sure that I’ll come back to this post later after publishing it, and I’ll see all the things I could’ve changed or expressed better (insert emoji face-palm here). But I’m also starting to believe more and more in the power of DOING things whether perfect or mostly not. So there you go. Mostly I just want anyone else who has ever felt similarly to know that you aren't alone...don't let it stifle your creativity, question your value, or hold you back from things like following your crazy ideas, stepping up towards your dream job, or talking to the cute guy you walk by every day for the first time.