Monday, July 25, 2011

Finding True North #30: Imposter Syndrome and the Invisible Alb

Today, I had my weekly meeting with my supervisor (AKA Kevin, the senior pastor at North UMC). I always enjoy our conversations because they are a great opportunity to unpack (Duke buzzword!) my field ed experience and to get ideas, inspiration, food for thought or all of the above.

This week, we talked for a bit about authority and leadership, things I'm always working on (and probably always will be). I went away with two things to chew on:

1. I have imposter syndrome. Wikipedia summarizes it as when "competent people find it impossible to believe in their own competence." It's having this fear that when people find out who you actually are or what you're actually capable of, they'll be disappointed. This has come into sharp focus for me this week as a few exciting opportunities have come up and left me simply confused as to why anyone would entrust me with something like teaching a class on biblical literature, for example. It seems to me that there is some balance to be struck here between believing in and embracing my own call and gifting without being arrogant. But false modesty, as C. S. Lewis says in The Screwtape Letters, is really just another form of pride, and self-deprecation denies what God has done and is doing in my life.

2. Apparently I carry myself differently (with more confidence and authority) when I'm wearing an alb (see image). I don't fidget as much or twirl my hair (things I know full well I do a lot of the time in meetings). It's not necessarily about the alb itself, but when I'm up front in church leading worship, I act like a leader. I've had several members of NUMC comment on my composure; one woman even told me I had the most poise of any intern they've had. (I'm friends with several former interns and so can call shenanigans on the truth of that, but it was still appreciated.) Kevin encouraged me to think about what it is that makes the difference in my comportment, to find my "invisible alb" and figure out how to put it on when doing something simple like walking into a room or attending a meeting.

Do you have imposter syndrome or an invisible alb?

2 comments:

Sarah McGiverin said...

I remember that I most felt like an impostor when visiting with parishioners - I remember asking my husband, "Why should they want to see me? I barely know them." And he would have to remind me, "Because you're their pastor!"

Felipe Neumann said...

I'm usually very confident and people get to notice I actually trust myself in the same measure I achieve my goals. Apparently being a confident person who doesn't have issues with this impostor syndrome causes other people to think you're pretentious... which is just as bad as having issues trusting yourself.
An invisible alb... funny way of wording it, although very accurate.
Yes, I guess I have one.
Sometimes I get to lead the prayers in the synagogue, I go there, wear my talit (the jewish alb! the white veil with black stripes) and read the Torah, ask the congregation to sing with me and when I'm done, I go back to my sit and it really feels like I can conquer anything for a few minutes. Like nothing could ever stop me from being an amazing, relentless creature of God.
Too bad my special powers seem to go away so fast... :)

Monday, July 25, 2011

Finding True North #30: Imposter Syndrome and the Invisible Alb

Today, I had my weekly meeting with my supervisor (AKA Kevin, the senior pastor at North UMC). I always enjoy our conversations because they are a great opportunity to unpack (Duke buzzword!) my field ed experience and to get ideas, inspiration, food for thought or all of the above.

This week, we talked for a bit about authority and leadership, things I'm always working on (and probably always will be). I went away with two things to chew on:

1. I have imposter syndrome. Wikipedia summarizes it as when "competent people find it impossible to believe in their own competence." It's having this fear that when people find out who you actually are or what you're actually capable of, they'll be disappointed. This has come into sharp focus for me this week as a few exciting opportunities have come up and left me simply confused as to why anyone would entrust me with something like teaching a class on biblical literature, for example. It seems to me that there is some balance to be struck here between believing in and embracing my own call and gifting without being arrogant. But false modesty, as C. S. Lewis says in The Screwtape Letters, is really just another form of pride, and self-deprecation denies what God has done and is doing in my life.

2. Apparently I carry myself differently (with more confidence and authority) when I'm wearing an alb (see image). I don't fidget as much or twirl my hair (things I know full well I do a lot of the time in meetings). It's not necessarily about the alb itself, but when I'm up front in church leading worship, I act like a leader. I've had several members of NUMC comment on my composure; one woman even told me I had the most poise of any intern they've had. (I'm friends with several former interns and so can call shenanigans on the truth of that, but it was still appreciated.) Kevin encouraged me to think about what it is that makes the difference in my comportment, to find my "invisible alb" and figure out how to put it on when doing something simple like walking into a room or attending a meeting.

Do you have imposter syndrome or an invisible alb?

2 comments:

Sarah McGiverin said...

I remember that I most felt like an impostor when visiting with parishioners - I remember asking my husband, "Why should they want to see me? I barely know them." And he would have to remind me, "Because you're their pastor!"

Felipe Neumann said...

I'm usually very confident and people get to notice I actually trust myself in the same measure I achieve my goals. Apparently being a confident person who doesn't have issues with this impostor syndrome causes other people to think you're pretentious... which is just as bad as having issues trusting yourself.
An invisible alb... funny way of wording it, although very accurate.
Yes, I guess I have one.
Sometimes I get to lead the prayers in the synagogue, I go there, wear my talit (the jewish alb! the white veil with black stripes) and read the Torah, ask the congregation to sing with me and when I'm done, I go back to my sit and it really feels like I can conquer anything for a few minutes. Like nothing could ever stop me from being an amazing, relentless creature of God.
Too bad my special powers seem to go away so fast... :)

 

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