Who am I? That is without the titles given to me because of a successful career and motherhood.
The truth is, I honestly don’t know. More often than I will ever admit, I feel lost amongst the collection of powerful descriptors — Lieutenant Colonel, Battalion Commander, LLC Founder, published author, Amar’s mama — that still fail to portray my true identify. Sadly, it is possible for someone to be acquainted with me in one or all those roles, and still not know who I truly am. After all, I don’t even know.
According to a Psychology Today article, “people who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think — and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them. Those with imposter syndrome are often well accomplished…”
I first recognized the signs of Imposter Syndrome in my own life when I realized my inability to extend grace to myself. My self-standards were too high…sometimes unachievable, and always unsustainable. Yet, I did not create a soft place for my pride to land in those moments when I did not — could not — deliver the results I expected. I noticed the signs again when I acknowledged that if inpatient was a person, that person would undoubtedly be me. Because in my head, there was always another goal to accomplish, another title to obtain, and never the opportunity to just exist in the moment. For to be still, was to become a potential target of scrutiny. And in that scrutiny, the observer might discover that who I really am pales in comparison to the person I’m constantly striving to be.
In my opinion, the only way to win a battle with the Imposter Syndrome is to develop an identity that is not tied to a title or accomplishment. To be comfortable with who you are at your core, when no one else is around and when there are no expectations levied upon your existence. It’s when the goal of life becomes to connect with and be content with your authentic self. And when you can accept that being a work in progress — completing your process — is a sign of humanity, not failure.
It is that desire for authenticity that led to my decision to compete again. Admittedly, I am still a novice competitor. However, if nothing else, I know that bodybuilding is a process. One that will require my inner athlete to carry a hefty measure of grace as I accept this challenge to transform…physically, emotionally, and even mentally. Ironically enough, this is my opportunity to create a safe space where I can connect with, nurture, and encourage the woman I see in the mirror every day before I fully become the athlete that will step back on the stage and present her ‘best package’ before strangers.
I don’t know if you can hear it, but my healing clock is now ticking. And on October 15, 2022, I will do the unthinkable and willingly allow myself to be scrutinized, judged, and compared. But I will do so only after I complete an intense prep process that will ultimately allow me to embrace my flaws — internal and external. Indeed, regardless of the outcome of the critique of my exterior, I want to leave the stage proud of the work I did within myself.
As I commit to this process that will deliberately, and selfishly, force me to focus in. I encourage you to find a goal that will challenge you to do the same. The world, the expectations, the titles will all still be there while we do our work. But if we happen to lose a thing or two during this process…well, that’s okay too. Because we’ll walk away with the one thing we truly need to measure success and happiness from here on out: the recognition of and connection with our authentic self.