Shifting Perspective

A reflection on reclaiming self-definition and embracing support.
Naomi Stewart
April 18, 2021

How long, Lord? My body aches from stress and weariness. The pressure of high achievement and perfection overwhelm. The eloquence and ease of others’ success consumes me and I feel I am one step from failing. My silent labor is birthed from Imposter’s Syndrome, and I am exhausted. I have mastered the ability to dismiss what I have done well. I downplay it. I retreat to shadows as a “pre-emptive tactic”, a way to shield from the potential criticism that might affirm my weaknesses.

Putting this feeling to words now feels right and necessary. I listened to a recent episode of “The Homecoming Podcast” by Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis on Imposter’s Syndrome. In her expertise, gentleness, and wisdom, she uncovered what would leave me vulnerable. She says a symptom of Imposter’s Syndrome causes us to “wear it well” in hopes to maintain perfection. We appear to have it all together, when in actuality, we are panicked, stressed, overwhelmed, and afraid.

Do I know enough? Do I belong here? Will they see right through me? Will I fail? Am I intelligent enough? Am I kind enough? It goes on…

Dr. Thema spoke these phrases in her podcast that I want to share with you, the potentially weary and self-sabotaging thinker, leader, artist, writer, activist, teacher, and student:

  • Perfectionism robs you of your successes and your humanity.
  • Shift from comparing oneself to others, and instead ask, ‘What are my assets? What can I learn from others?’
  • You do not have to be perfect to belong, to be worthy, to be worthy of celebration.
  • You are not the only one struggling.
  • You can be kinder and more compassionate with yourself.
  • Be gentle and compassionate with yourself.
  • Fear is a feeling, not a truth.
  • Reclaim your self-definition.
  • Do it afraid.
  • Say, “I don’t belong here, but I am here.”
  • Failures and rejections are a part of your story, but they are not your whole story.
  • Find the why.

The work we do as creatives and community leaders can be a taxing and potentially traumatizing one. If I have learned anything from our Inbreak gatherings, it is that we are not alone and that our unique perspectives, ideas, and giftings are necessary to enact generative and sustainable change.

Inbreak artists and the Inbreak team have collectively confronted where our trauma exists and where healing begins in our person, in our stories, and in our bodies. We reflected on our individual roles in a social change ecosystem and how these weave into our practices and in the artist’s community projects. We invited key community members into our space during the Access Inbreak: Innovation Lab to identify the “why” behind the work we have done so far.

And now I invite you to ease into this reflection. Take a few moments to either think about, or journal in response to the following:

  1. Identify your insecurities and why they exist. Assess what emotions come up and where they exist in your body.
  2. How can you be compassionate with yourself?
  3. List your assets/strengths.
  4. List your wins and keep track of them.
  5. Release perfectionism.
  6. Who in your life can support, mentor and guide you?
  7. What resources are available to you?

My prayer is that we embrace our unique value and exercise compassion with ourselves. Be encouraged.