The Imposter Syndrome

By September 12, 2016Mindy

Bruce and I have been spending every free moment of the past few weeks writing our One Day to Wellness manual. It has been exhilarating, to say the least. First, I outlined the plan providing for linked sections, themed thoughts, and lots of introspection and interaction. Then we dove in with each taking a theme. Sunday, Bruce and I will then add to each other’s sections; Monday, it goes off to the editor.

I have written many manuals before this one but this will be my best. I think I feel this way because this program is so important. Bruce and I have created One Day to Wellness because we feel that we HAVE to share this knowledge with everyone. The obesity rate is rising at the same rate as health clubs are opening their doors. This fact alone should make us all pause and reconsider our message of fitness. Our current messaging is incomplete and we need a new plan in order to change the trajectory of our nation’s health. We have to incorporate a complete MIND SHIFT.

As I write each paragraph, my fingers can’t type fast enough. I find my brain two sentences ahead of my typing ability. The words are dancing and prancing off the screen and I am in awe of the process. This is surprising to me because I am not a writer. I have no formal training in writing other than my English classes in high school and college.

I have and always will be a leader. An innovator. Someone who looks for the cracks to fill and not at the popular path to follow. One Day to Wellness is a program that is needed in our nation at this time, and it is not something that fits into the current fitness mold.

There. I wrote it. I let my fingers tap out what I am afraid at times to say. How dare I be so bold. I have no right to say this about myself. This is because I find myself more often than not carrying the cloud of the Imposter Syndrome.

The Imposter Syndrome

There have been many research studies, articles, and books written about this phenomenon. Wikipedia describes the Impostor Syndrome this way:

“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.”

The impostor syndrome has plagued me all my life. I do not have a PHD or even a BS. Because I wanted to be Peter Pan on Broadway, I went to Theater School in NYC after attaining my AA at a community collage in California. Broadway was the goal, but to pay my bills, I taught aerobics classes.Mindy Mylrea

I fell in love with teaching fitness to music. My intention was that teaching fitness was to be my side job and that I would return to acting full time at some point. But I began making a name for myself teaching fitness; at the ripe old age of 21, I launched my fitness career on a racquetball court in San Jose California, armed with a boom box and mixed tapes. I taught 4 high impact classes a day (with no shoes but really cute leg warmers) and made $5.00 per class! We used soup cans for weights, and I spend hours preparing my routines, mixing my music, and creating my exercise selection.

At that time there were no others to look to for choreography. The choreography that came from within is what you had to work with. Articles were written about me in the local newspaper as the “hardest” fitness teacher in the Bay Area. I won the most Physically Fit Female competition (this competition was held in a bar, no less)  and then went on to win the National and World Aerobic Championship. This is really where my fitness presenting career began.

Remember, I was an actress about to be Peter Pan on Broadway. I had no education or experience in teaching fitness to the masses. I didn’t have a degree in exercise science or my masters in biomechanics. At the time, I was afraid I would be called out on what I didn’t know. But I was (and am) a sponge for learning. Along with this journey, I educated myself with every piece of information that would fill any gap in my knowledge. I was so afraid that someone would ask for my degree status that I overcompensated with educating myself.

Women Who Influence

There was always this little voice inside my head saying that someone someday was going to call me out and ask for my “papers”. I knew of the Imposters Syndrome and that I wasn’t alone in this feeling. This summer, I was validated when I spoke at the Women Who Influence luncheon at the CanFitPro conference in Toronto. As each woman on the panel spoke, there was a resonating theme of this Imposter Syndrome discussed. Each woman on the panel admitted to that at some point in their career they were Making it Up. There had been no one to follow and no path already set, so making it up was the only choice.

As I listened to these amazing Women Who Influence, I felt vindicated that I was one of them; they were in my tribe. We weren’t imposers. We were leaders. Leaders do MAKE IT UP (with all the knowledge and resources that surround us) and make things happen. We fill the cracks, steer the ship, and outline the paths to take.

I remind myself that I am where I am today because of the path I forged, not because of a path that was laid out for me. As I told the group of the Women Who Influence luncheon, I have been disruptive all my life and I was never very good at following. I needed to get out of my own way when the Imposter Syndrome invaded my thoughts.

So I am not a writer?

Who says?

Not me!


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