By Tristin Brown • March 15, 2019
When you saw the title of this blog post, a couple of things may have come to mind. Perhaps, you thought about the 2008 film titled ‘Doubt’ that starred Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman. Or maybe you automatically connected with the doubt that plagued your mind when you reluctantly clicked on the link that led you here and thought to yourself, “Oh gosh, not another blog post.” Whatever the case may be, one thing that is certain is that this one term known as doubt has affected us all in one way or another.
Whether you’re the undergraduate in your senior year scrambling to find ways to get that astronomical score on the LSAT that will land you into an Ivy League law program, or the professional competing with your counterparts to score the promotion that you’re oh so deserving of, or the parent doing literal and figurative cartwheels to make it clear to your kid(s) that you’re the absolute best, one thing is for sure. And that thing is this; in those moments we have to ourselves, when all the noise is silenced and it’s just us and our flaws, that little thing called doubt decides to rear its ugly head and seep into the depths of our minds and the crevices of our souls. When that thing called doubt gets good and settled and even has the audacity to move in her friends known as fear, anxiety, depression, and a whole host of others, you start to ask yourself, “Am I good enough?”
The societal and sometimes familial pressures we face on a daily basis to achieve the all too impossible and insulting standard of perfection set for us directly correlates to these solitary moments you may find yourself experiencing. For myself, the daunting and overwhelming tasks of anything law school related somewhat forced me into these moments. From taking the grueling Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) with people who seemingly knew that this was the destined path for them since being formed in the womb to visiting different schools where a large portion of students don’t even have to consider the burden of having to take on such an enormous financial risk, I found myself catching “Impostor Syndrome.” I’d like to define Impostor Syndrome as an ailment that latches on to individuals who are camouflaging in their respective environments to solely survive. You know, faking it until you make it? Those affected by Impostor Syndrome rarely, if ever, have a shot at being able to thrive. And, so, when I found myself feeling like a victim of this very real illness, (there are people out here suffering from this y’all) I had to remind myself of a few things.
1. Fear is a liar. At work, there is this paper hanging up next to me that reads, “Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may never exist. That is near insanity. Do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.” The moment you choose fear over faith, you have limited your possibilities by maximizing your insecurities. Choose wisely.
2. Never minimize yourself to maximize others. On the other end of the spectrum, there are some of us who in an attempt to massage the egos, feelings, and hearts of others reduce our own brilliance. Promise me you will never ever do that again. Ok? Okay. You are doing yourself and anyone else around you a huge disservice by not sharing the skills, knowledge, ideas, and whatever else it is that you may possess. There is this quote by Erma Bombeck (and, yes I am a quote kinda girl) that says, "When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left, and could say, 'I used everything you gave me'. By dimming your light, not only have you diminished the use of your God-given gifts, but you have made it that much more difficult for someone traveling down your same or a similar path to see which ways to go or what decisions to make. You could very well be the catalyst for someone who is discouraged or maybe disconnected from their potential, to unlock their inner greatness. And if there are people around you who don’t appreciate you shining your light, who gives a damn?! Those people more often than not take solace in believing that they’re always the smartest person in the room and when little old you comes skipping in, there’s an automatic threat that people feel. That is perfectly fine, in fact, that is phenomenal! You should take great pride in knowing that when you walk in a room, you are viewed as either inspiring or intolerable.
3. Set your expectations high, and then exceed them. Too often we expect so little of ourselves to ultimately soften the blow of what could be possible failure. The thing that distinguishes the good from the great is the willingness to perform past your perceived potential. It’s like when you’re working out in the gym. It’s when you decide to run that extra mile that you told yourself you would not run that gradual changes begin. Or when you lift that extra 10 pounds you wouldn’t have dared picked up last week, that you begin to see muscle definition. Growth and change occur during moments when we are uncomfortable. If you want to see something different, you have to do something different! So, if you continue setting the same lousy expectations for yourself or running that same mile, the only person you can be upset with when you notice the same results is yourself. So, challenge yourself to get that A in a class, rather than settling for the mediocre C. Take the initiative at work to propose a new idea or project, that’s how you get that promotion. Take the extra mile to sit down with your kid(s) to go over homework, that’s how you produce all-stars! Even though you may not feel like it, just do a little more as opposed to pumping out the bare minimum. Plus, the reward in the end is always sweeter when you know you’ve put in the work.
4. Know that, without a DOUBT, you belong. Trust me, if you did not belong where you are planted you would’ve been long gone. And if you know that where you are currently, isn’t allowing you to grow, know that you should be actively moving forward to move into that place where you do belong. Life is a journey and not a destination, so I’m not expecting you to stay put in one place for the next century. But, on each stop of this journey you should want to walk boldly in your purpose and make it your business to leave your mark on the place and people surrounding you. So, do just that. I’m counting on you to go out there and kick some serious ass!