I’ll never forget my first day teaching. I was 23 years old and I was certain my students would be able to sniff me out. I was, after all, an imposter.
The advice from my peers who’d walked this road before me was some form of the oft used, “fake it until you make it.”
“When you’re standing at the front of the room, students just trust you. They believe you,” a friend told me. I received the insight skeptically.
But when I walked into the room, like magic, they did believe me. They didn’t believe everything I said (I was teaching Sociology, many of the concepts rock people’s worlds). But they believed I was capable. They believed in my expertise. And soon I started to believe myself as a teacher, too.
That confidence to act as if— to be a deliberate imposter—helps us to transform into the thing we want to be.
I’m learning this lesson again as I challenge myself to firmly and confidently say, “I’m a writer.” Or, a more difficult one, “I’m a musician.” Though they are activities that I routinely do, they are difficult to own as part of my identity. I was deliberate in my impersonation of a street musician my first time busking. Sure it felt strange (as most things do the first go ’round), but it also felt exhilarating. I could feel the bounds of my comfort zone expanding.
And the passers by who smiled, and those who averted their gaze, both helped me to believe in myself a little more as a musician and to loosen my grip on my idea of myself as a deliberate imposter.
Photo Credit: audiolucistore