You Are Not The Imposter

J.M. Elam
3 min readMar 5, 2021

I see the posts about imposter syndrome, and I doubt that I can add much to the conversation. Of course, that in itself is imposter syndrome.

Everyone sees the output, all the things that I’ve dared to post or become comfortable sharing. What people don’t see is the daily decisions. There is the temptation to believe the voice that says there’s no point in trying. There’s no point in doing the work. And when I am doing the work and putting it out there, there is a voice that says, that’s not me, that I’m not doing enough.

There is that voice whispering that I’m not successful enough, and if I am, that I don’t deserve it. That voice tells me that I’m pretending to be someone that I’m not. But the thing is that voice doesn’t know me. It’s the same one that says that I’m not enough, that I’m broken, that I’m unwanted. It’s not the voice you believe.

The thing is that we all struggle with imposter syndrome. Sometimes it doesn’t look like imposter syndrome. It’s a wild beast that adapts as you do. It doesn’t want you to grow and progress.

I’ve heard people ask how to cure it. I’m not sure if there is a cure or if we need to waste our time looking for one. Every time you try to do something you’ve never done or learn something you’ve never done, you’ll find imposter syndrome.

Every time you try to break an old pattern or break past a threshold of expectancy, you’ll find it. If you never do anything, you’ll find it in the voice shaming you for doing nothing. What we need to learn isn’t to cure it. We need to know how to fight it.

In the same way that we’ve learned to be vigilant for our physical, mental, or emotional health, we need to question self-doubt. We need to forgive ourselves for apparent imperfections and failures. There is no shame in experiencing imposter syndrome. It is at its core merely shame itself.

But why should we feel such shame for a thing which isn’t us? It isn’t us, and yet everyone experiences it. Everyone you look up to and compare yourself with is experiencing the same thing.

Everyone that has accomplished something and fears falling so far is experiencing imposter syndrome. Anyone that feels they must do more to be worthy, to be enough, is feeling it. Everyone that thinks they are worthless because they don’t see the productivity is feeling it.

Your growth is essential, but it doesn’t determine your innate worth. Your development is important, but it isn’t meant to be a stumbling block unto itself. Just as courage is a response despite fear, growth is a response despite imposter syndrome.

You are not the imposter. The imposter is pretending to be you.



J.M. Elam

I'm an artist and writer in Louisville, Kentucky, in love with learning and personal growth. If each year I'm a better person than I was, it's time well spent.