Imposter Syndrome. I know it well.
At the start of Covid, I attended a wedding and got exposed to a guest who unknowingly had the virus. I had to quarantine for two weeks. It felt like my world was crashing down, in part because I couldn’t spend time with my fiancée, Hannah. But we made the best of it: every night we would crack open our computers and FaceTime for hours.
I’d like to share with you the highlights from one of our discussions. It changed my life — and it could change yours.
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I know what you’re thinking: “I get that you’re in love, but what could you possibly talk about for hours every single night?”
Well, one thing we spent a lot of time discussing were two relationship books by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn, titled For Men Only and For Women Only. Hannah and I want to enjoy a great marriage that glorifies God, so we’ve been reading everything we can get our hands on about how God has uniquely created man and woman.
As I began reading aloud from Chapter 3 of For Women Only, I looked up to see Hannah taking vigorous notes. I smiled, grateful that she truly wants to fully understand and love me.
But then I began to squirm. Because the chapter began talking about male imposter syndrome, a topic I know all too well.
It took only a second for the familiar feelings of shame to rise up. Tears welled in my eyes as my stomach churned at the old lie that flooded my thoughts: I’m not enough.
Imposter Syndrome: A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.
Feeling the Fraud
My fear of not being enough has plagued me my entire life. (Perhaps you can relate?)
For me, the fear began in high school, when a friend told me that girls would never like me simply because I was me.
Why did I listen to him? Because I struggle with being seen as smart and capable. I am well aware of my weaknesses and failures, but I’d rather keep them to myself.
As a pastor’s kid, I always felt the expectation to be perfect to be accepted. I secretly struggled with an addiction to porn at that time; I remember thinking, “If my parents or the kids in my youth group find about this, they won’t believe I have a real relationship with Jesus.”
I still often walk around with the fear of being found out for being a fraud. I don’t want Hannah to view me that way.
Sitting there, afraid to look into her eyes, all I could think was, “Will Hannah keep loving me, if she realizes how weak I really am?
Hannah provided the answer.
“Austin, there is nothing you can do or say that will cause me to think less of you. I am so sorry you feel this way. I’m not going anywhere; I love you.”
Freed to Be Authentic
In that moment, Hannah gave me the security of showing up as my authentic self. Her words reaffirmed her commitment to love me like God does: fully known and fully accepted.
The promise of Romans 8:35-39:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Because of my worth in Christ, I don’t need to live as an imposter. Because He fully loves and accepts me, I can better affirm and love others. Especially Hannah.
Since those two weeks of nightly FaceTime chats, I have gained enormous confidence from Hannah’s respect and support. Her love pushes me to love and meet her needs, too.
Proverbs 31:10 wisely notes, “An excellent wife who can find? She is far more precious than jewels.” We’re getting close to our wedding date, but I’ve already received the best wedding gift I could wish for: Hannah!
- Where do you struggle with imposter syndrome?
- Do you know anyone who struggles with imposter syndrome?
- How might you remind them of their God-given worth?
- Do you struggle with hiding who you are? Check out our Resolution Movement!