Impostor Syndrome

Day 11: Affirmations to combat Impostor Syndrome

If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree,
it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.
~ Albert Einstein

I love the word picture and the truth of this quote.

Of course, no one expects a fish to climb a tree. It has no arms to grasp the trunk. It has no legs to push itself upward. It has no lungs to catch a breath.

A fish is born to swim. Not win swimming competitions but simply swim. A goldfish swims gently around the pond. A shark swims aggressively in the ocean. Fish do not look at other fish and envy their prowess. Fish do not look at other creatures and dream of becoming something else.

Fish accept themselves and are content to simply be fish.

Why can’t humans be as accepting?

All of us are born with a unique set of gifts, talents, and personalities. The opera singer will not become a concert pianist. The football star will not become a world-class gymnast. We learn to pursue goals that align with our strengths. Our life purpose is revealed in this pursuit.

But often we are not content with who we are. We want more. The choir member desires to be a soloist. The author wants to be a New York Times bestseller. The high school coach wants to be the major league star. It’s fine to pursue dreams, but not at the expense of self-acceptance and joy.

What happens if the fish misjudges himself? What if the fish thinks he should climb the tree? What if the fish continues to tell himself he is stupid because he can’t? The expectations are unrealistic. Yet the fish measures its worth based on impossible standards.

This is Delilah’s constant voice. She is forever telling me that my strengths are never good enough.  Any small accomplishment is discounted because the bar resets higher. Wrote a book? So what. How many copies did you sell? How many reviews you got? Have you made any bestseller lists? How can you call yourself a writer?!

It’s more difficult to tune out the negative voices when they originate within. But if I would never think of judging a fish by its ability to climb a tree – isn’t it time I extend the same criteria to myself?

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus
to do good works, which God prepared
in advance for us to do.

Ephesians 2:10 (NIV)

 

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