When I started my Ph.D. program at the University of Nebraska, I felt like a fraud. I mean, I knew I was smart. But this was a whole different ball game. Not only were these people smart, but they were the smartest of the smart. The cream of the crop. Not that I'm bragging that I was among them. But seriously, I was blown away by everyone's intelligence. Suddenly, I felt like they made some mistake letting me into the Ph.D. program. I kind of felt like raising my hand and saying, "Excuse me, are you SURE you want ME here!?" I just kept thinking that I wasn't sure if I could keep up with all of them.
After a while, I figured since they hadn't kicked me out yet, then maybe I did deserve to be there. But that feeling of being a fraud didn't go away for a long time. The reassuring part of it is that after I got to know people there, they all secretly confessed to feeling like a fraud, too. Whew!! That made me feel better. I mean, I have always had pretty good self-esteem in general, so I didn't really like that "fraud" feeling. But I took some comfort in knowing that at least we all felt like frauds.
Fast forward about 20 years. A few days ago, I was talking to a good friend of mine who runs a company. And during one of our conversations, he mentioned feeling like a fraud. I burst out into laughter saying, "Wow, you feel that way too?!?!!" Then it hit me. Maybe everyone feels like a fraud from time to time.
And it doesn't have to be in your professional life either.
I kind of felt like a fraud when I had my first child. He was not an easy baby (huge understatement), so I literally cried myself to sleep in some of those early sleepless nights thinking "I can't do this! I'm a fraud of a mother! Why am I the only one who can't handle this?!?! Why does every other mother cry tears of joy and I'm crying tears of frustration?!?!" 13 years later, and many conversations with other mothers, well, lo-and-behold, many of them felt the same way.
So I've come to the conclusion that no one is a fraud.
And here are three reasons why:
1. You're doing it, right?
I don't care if you're a President/CEO of a company, a college student, a new mother or you just won a huge award...guess what? You're doing it! Or you DID it!! If you were a fraud, then you fall flat on your face. And you're not. You didn't. So you're not a fraud. Be proud of yourself.
2. Our culture doesn't reward schmucks.
Seriously, if you're not doing a good job at something, then someone will let you know! You'll either get fired, demoted, flunk out or something to that effect. Our whole society is designed to reward greatness, so if you've achieved something or are currently doing something, then other people obviously thought you deserved it - and are capable of it.
3. You're awesome.
That's pretty self-explanatory. You are awesome. Everyone is awesome in their own way. So pat yourself on the back and don't feel like you're not worthy. You are worthy!
To close this blog, I will tell you one more story. Several months ago, I was asked to be a part of an expert network. It is truly and honor and a privilege to be asked to do such a thing. The website is all about self-improvement and inspiring people to be all they can be. So that's why I feel like I fit. But as I looked at the other experts' biographies and websites, suddenly I felt like I was back in graduate school again. I mean, these people are rock stars. For a short time, those fraudulent feelings started to creep in again. But this time, unlike 20 years ago, I quickly dismissed them. Hey, maybe I just don't give myself enough credit, and maybe you don't either (although I can always count on my sisters to giggle, snort, and point at me and say, "They call you Doctor Morgan?! You're just our little sister!!! Bahaha!!!"). So go ahead -- toot your own horn!! You're not a fraud! You're awesome!