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Imposter No More!

July 12, 2020

You’ve heard of “imposter syndrome”? The (usually unwarranted) feeling that you are not qualified to do what you are doing. Rose recently started a big new job, and has been wrestling a bit with this feeling (in her case, it’s totally unwarranted). Ironically, real imposters most often feel no such compunctions. There was a book many years ago called The Peter Principle, which posited that everyone eventually rises to their level of incompetence. There are MANY of these folks in management in various fields, most blissfully unaware that they are in over their heads.

I have lived most of my life with imposter syndrome. I had a reputation for being super smart in school, but I knew better (so did Mrs. Carter, who gave me a D in Finite Math). Later, I began acting, and became the professional imposter that actors are by nature (“I’m not a doctor, but I play one on TV!”) On another level, though, I was keenly aware that I had zero theatrical training, as opposed to my fellow performers, with their degrees from fancy drama schools. I lived in fear that I would be found out as a fraud and fired from Under The Yum-Yum Tree (which, in retrospect, might have been a blessing, given the abysmal quality of that play).

Eventually I became Spiritual Formation Director at Christ’s Lutheran Church, having never set foot in a seminary. May 1st marked 18 years in that job. And while there are still times when imposter syndrome creeps into my thoughts, for the most part I feel competent (hopefully I’m not an example of the “Saint Peter Principle”).

Looking at my first entries in a church planner, dated May, 2002, it seems the opening weeks were filled with meetings—with the pastor, the parents, the Sunday School and Confirmation teachers. I got an earful of what worked, what hadn’t, and what was expected of me in the future, I spent the following months reassuring everybody that everything would be perfect going forward, just perfect! The next 18 years were spent redefining “perfect” as “not that bad, considering.”

I had some newbie company, as both Meg the church secretary and Molly the synod youth ministry specialist began work at the same time as me. Where are they now? Well, Meg left Christ’s years ago, moved to Maine and her career has gone in an entirely different direction since. Molly our youth ministry gal rose rapidly in the ranks, and is now the Director of the National Lutheran Youth Gathering (an immense event for 36,000 high school youth held every three years).

Meanwhile, here I remain.  I am now the “old timer” whose tenure is exceeded only by Ken our music director. I am often relied upon to identify former parishioners, and to explain the way things used to run--which makes me feel like I’ve been there 81 years, not 18. But I love this faith community, and am still glad I’m at Christ’s Lutheran. Happy Anniversary to me!

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    I am an author (of four books, numerous plays, poetry and freelance articles,) a director (of Spiritual Formation at a Lutheran church,) and a producer (of five kids).

    I write about my hectic, funny, perfectly imperfect life.

    Please visit my website: www.eliseseyfried.com or email me at eliseseyf@gmail.com.

     

     

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