According to an article from Scientific American imposter syndrome is “a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary.”  I know that I personally suffer from imposter syndrome.  It is something that pops up in many different aspects of my life.  Sometimes it is hard to identify this feeling and realize that it is truly just my perception of a situation.  When I do find myself feeling like I don’t belong, I always try to acknowledge what it is that is making me feel “less than” and remind myself of my worth.  Recently, I had this realization and I wanted to share my experience with you!

Most of my adult life has been spent as a high school Family and Consumer Sciences teacher focusing on Culinary Arts.  This has led me to be involved with an organization that’s main purpose is to help battle hunger, by educating children about gardening and sustainability practices. Aka, teaching kids how to grow veggies and love to eat them.  The group is a cool mix of local farmers, academics, and educators.  Truly, people full of passion and energy for good food, and a desire to reduce hunger one garden at a time.

This group was awarded a grant from the Mayor’s Wellness Council. We would now have the funds to do many educational programs, and to promote veggies to kids!  The leader of the group asked me if I would accept the award with her.  I of course said yes and put it in my calendar.  I didn’t give it a thought until the morning of the event.  The mayor recently hosted a marathon.  The funding for the grants came from profit of the marathon.  Suddenly, it hit me… the people that were giving this award were marathon runners.  I am most definitely NOT a marathon runner.  I started to panic, what would everyone think?  Would they doubt their decision to fund our project?  Today these thoughts seem almost silly, but that feeling of being an imposter was strong that morning.  I tried to push the thoughts aside thinking, “it’s ok, it will just be the mayor a few staff members, and a photo op.  No big deal!”

I hurried off to the elementary school where we were meeting the mayor.  I arrived, and the principal of the elementary school met me at the door and greeted me with true West Texas kindness.  He explained that we would be meeting in the gym and showed me the way.  I opened the door to the gym… and BAM! There was the ENTIRE elementary school sitting crisscross apple sauce on the floor.  OMG!  We were going to have to accept this award in front of several hundred little humans.  On top of that every local news crew was there setting up cameras and taking photos (news is slow here in West Texas, lol).  Now the imposter syndrome really started to rear its ugly head.  As I stood there waiting for the mayor to arrive, I started to really talk down to myself.  I was thinking things like; “what kind of role model are you for these students?”  “Are you really a healthy example for them?”  “Who are you to represent a group that is all about eating veggies?”  “Why the heck did you pick this outfit, and not something that would make you look better on camera?!?!“

When the mayor arrived, there were cheers from the students.  There was so much energy in the room it was intoxicating.  As the mayor talked to the students, he explained what a marathon was, and how the event raised money that would be used for programs for them.  The students were buzzing and wiggling with excitement.  I could tell they felt very special.  I started to think about how awesome that energy was.  Then I started to realize that I did belong there, more importantly I was proud to be there… I looked into the crowd.  There was a young chubby girl that was fixated on me.  We made eye contact, and she excitedly started to wave, I waved back.  I realized several very important things in that moment.  First, I did belong there.  I have a passion for sustainability and farm to table practices, I am happy to be part of a group that promotes those ideas.  Secondly, I am a role model.  Even though I was most definitely the biggest person in the room; I still love fresh foods, particularly veggies, maybe my brave moment on stage will show the chubby girl in the crowd that she can be part of a conversation about healthy practices.  Thirdly, this event was not about me or my insecurities.  No one saw me as out of place, no one doubted why I was there.  I was the person that was being the hardest on myself.

I’m not an imposter.  I’m an educator, a volunteer, a role model, a big fan of veggies, and also a plus sized woman.  This is just one example of how my own feelings of imposter-ism almost stole my moment.  There have been many times when my insecurities took over, and I lost my confidence and self-worth.   I challenge you to remember that imposter syndrome is just your perception, and that you are definitely not an imposter.  I know that platforms that promote inclusion at every size (just like here at BoldMZ) have helped me find my strength and helped me understand that I am much more than my size.  Rather, I a strong bold woman that want’s to do good things in the world, and help kids learn to love their veggies!