Can I share with you my biggest struggle in life? It’s feeling the need to present a rather perfect image while knowing that my life is nowhere near perfect.
In fact, there are parts of my life that are total shit. Sorry, but sometimes a four-letter word is the only way to convey a thought with complete honesty and accuracy.
I’ve got some incredibly faulty relationships, a pretty severe on-again/off-again health regimen, and I often think and feel more negativity and judgment toward other people than should be allowed by law. And those are some of my *better* flaws.
And I’m an author, speaker, and entrepreneur who has focused his life and work on helping people create a more positive, superpowered life. To do that effectively, I feel the need to present a pretty “with it” picture to the world.
Honestly, sometimes I have a hard time reconciling the whole image vs. reality thing. And that can make me feel like a total fraud. There’s even a name for that feeling: Imposter Syndrome.
I shared this feeling with someone recently — OK, it was my psychologist (see, I even hesitated to say THAT because only less-than-perfect people see shrinks, right?) — and she immediately challenged my thinking by asking, “Do you think anyone actually thinks you’re perfect?”
It didn’t take long for me to reach the inevitable answer of “no.”
Shrink: “Then why do you feel such pressure?”
Me: “Because I want people to like me.”
Shrink: “Do you think they won’t like you if they see your less-than-perfect side?”
Me: “Well, maybe they’d still like me, but they may not want to listen to me anymore.”
Shrink: “Why not?”
Me: “Because I’m supposed to have some of this stuff figured out.”
Shrink: “Really? Don’t you think they might relate to you MORE if they knew you DIDN’T have it all figured out?”
Me: “Please stop making such good sense.”
My sense of humor often kicks in when I know I’m completely busted. Mostly because if I don’t laugh about how stupid I am, I will probably break down in tears. I prefer laughing. But I only know that because I have been a sobbing wreck before, too.
Part of the problem is that we live in a Facebook world now. We share tidbits of our lives in 140 characters on Twitter. Even a blog post like this is limited to a few paragraphs to convey a thought, idea, or observation. So, like many, I feel the need to populate these channels with the most positive, happy, pulled-together version of me.
But that’s not the real me. Or maybe I should say that’s not the whole me. The whole me IS often positive, happy, and pulled together. I’m also a negative, depressed, hot mess sometimes. Some days I encourage and lift people up. Other days I am a bona fide jerk. Sometimes I think the most optimistic, healthy, happy thoughts. And sometimes I don’t want to get out of bed in the morning. And believe it or not, I don’t always wake up looking this pretty.
Why am I telling you this today? I gotta admit, it feels a little weird to share this just a few days after releasing my first book. At this moment more than ever it feels like I should be putting the absolute best version of myself out there, positioning myself as an expert in the art of superpowered living, and being as likable as possible so people will say, “Hey, that Mark Henson really has his act together. I should buy his book.”
But I’ve been thinking more and more about what I believe a superpowered life is, and I keep revisiting my #1 criteria:
Be 100% you.
When I first wrote that in my journal about a year and a half ago as one of the core principles of a superpowered life, it meant being the most authentic you possible. It meant not only discovering and using your superpowers, but also always being honest with yourself and the world — and never pretending to be something you’re not. And yet somehow I pictured that “authentic” person being rather perfect, as if we could get to the point where our lives are truly full of all of the good stuff and none of the bad. Then we (meaning I) could be 100% authentic, because it would be easy and shiny, right?
But if being 100% you is about being honest about the *whole* you — the good and the not-so-good — then it’s not a someday-when-I’ve-got-it-all-figured-out thing. It’s a now thing.
So that’s why I’m sharing this today. It has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that I just released a book. And it has everything to do with the fact that I just released a book. Sure, releasing a book fanned the flames of my imposter syndrome. But really, it is just time to finally be 100% me.
To be clear, this is NOT an “I don’t care what the world thinks” kind of attitude. In fact, I care very much what the world thinks. I don’t want anyone to ever think I’m a fraud or an imposter — because I really want to help people. I used to think the way to achieve that was to work as hard as possible to eliminate the less-than-perfect stuff.
But this journey is teaching me that the only way to really eliminate imposter syndrome is to be brave enough to share your 100% whole self.