We all want to matter. We all want to leave our mark on this world. We all want to be above average. The caveat, though, is that we are all tied to our past as well.
Whoever we were in grade school or high school, how well we did on exams, what clique we hung out with, what classes we did poorly at, it all lingers in the back our mind somewhere. The mistakes we made, the embarrassing things we did or said, our failures; all of it lives within us and plays a subtle part in how we define ourselves.
This is the basis for most people’s imposter syndrome. Our unremarkable childhoods and coming of age moments hold us back. They keep us smaller than what our potential otherwise is.
Even the people who hit rare milestones – raising venture money, building a product or company that people love, getting their dream job, pivoting it into a new career, playing a professional sport, etc. still speak about their imposter syndrome. They feel like they don’t belong. They feel like they aren’t the best person for the job (even if they created the job).
We feel an obligation to remain the same person we were a month ago, a year ago, a decade ago. It seems that no matter how much we learn, grow, or accomplish, there is always a voice in our head saying, you sucked at fourth grade math there’s no way you can be anything. This is not true, though. Our past did not lock in our trajectory forever. With conscious effort, we can break the hold of our past.
Our past only defines us so far as we let it. If we have goals that seem daunting because we see them from a reference point of out past selves, we won’t be able to reach them. If we stop letting our past selves define what we are capable of, we can manifest the future in a meaningful way.
It all starts with visualizing what it is that we want. We can map out the work we have done to get us where we want. We can choose to let go of what happened to us.
Naval once stated that, “changing your view of the past is almost as good as actually changing it.” It’s true. If we can reframe the source of our imposter syndrome, we can reach new heights and know we earned it.