Yesterday, on my way out of the gym, I held the door for another woman who was also on her way out. “Thank you!” she said, “And by the way, you run REALLY fast!” I didn’t know how to respond so I nervously laughed and said, “Oh! Thanks, but–” She interrupted, “I saw you run 7.5 on the treadmill and I think I would blackout if I ran that fast!” For whatever reason, I couldn’t muster a simple thank you and move on. Instead I launched into a complicated explanation about intervals, speed training, and the difference between those paces and easy pace.
On the drive home, I reflected on this interaction. What compelled me to feel like I had to explain myself to this woman? The truth is, I felt like if I had accepted her compliment about my speed, I’d be a fraud. A simple thank you would need a disclaimer: Thank you, but I can only do that sometimes. Usually I’m quite slow. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how often I do this in all areas of my life. Nice outfit? Thanks, but I bought it on clearance. Nice blog post? Thanks, but it felt really hard to write. It all ends up being a battle of the reality others see versus the impostor I view as myself.
I have a bad case of impostor syndrome and it’s holding me back as a runner. Read more >>