Everybody struggles with their sense of identity at some point in their life. We idolize others, search for perfection outside ourselves, and let our envy get the best of us. It’s great to draw inspiration from those we admire, but where do you draw the line? If you find yourself jumping from obsession to obsession or trying to force an image that is just not you onto those you’re close to, you may find your sense of identity becoming even more muddled and frustrating. When I was in high school, I had a new identity I was trying to peddle every day, and it devastated me when no one believed it. I hated being told to ‘be myself’ because I didn’t know what that meant. I had zero self confidence because I didn’t have any sense of self in the first place. I would say the first step to curing Imposter Syndrome, and finding out how to ‘be yourself’, is to stop caring what other people think.
1. Don’t Look at Yourself Through Other People’s Eyes
“Care less about what the other people think, because at the end of the day everyone is so worried about themselves and how they are coming across that nobody is judging as much as y’all think they are.” – Tyler Oakley
This happened for me shortly after I left high school and started spending more time by myself. I’m not saying that isolating yourself from everyone (especially not the people you care about) is a good idea, but you should be putting more energy into just enjoying the time you have on your own. Be as comfortable as possible; do whatever your heart desires. It will help you to find a clearer sense of what you like to feel and do better than when you’re around other people. That brings us to step two.
2. Embrace Your Strengths
Everybody has something they’re good at, some niche, a word that will always be a go-to adjective to describe themselves. Most people might say ‘creative’, ‘intelligent’, ‘compassionate’, etc. The trick is to pick words that reflect who you are, not who you wish you were. So even though I would really like to define myself as ‘successful’, I’m going to go with ‘playful’. And if you’re having trouble coming up with a word, for whatever reason, here’s one for every single one of you (ironically enough): unique.
Side Note: There are no variations or levels of the word ‘unique’. You cannot say that something is more unique than something else. The word itself means ‘one of a kind’.
3. Idolize Yourself
Think of all the attributes your fake persona would have. You know, that person you pretend to be or wish you were. Are they a totally independent badass a la Lisbeth Salander? Or maybe you wish you were pretty, bubbly, and popular like Elle Woods. It doesn’t matter what it is. Usually, the people you idolize (fictional or not) resemble some part of you, that’s where the attraction comes from. So if you find yourself bouncing between lots of idols and identities, focus on what you like about them and where to find those attributes within yourself. Instead of dying your hair or dressing like said person, look at their other characteristics (not the physical ones like demeanor and looks). If someone seems really cool and independent, focus on becoming more independent in your own life and embracing the ways you already are. Learn to idolize yourself!