Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Revealing The Impostor (Part II)

(Thank you all for the powerful and insightful comments in Part I. It definitely left an impression on me as I'm sure for most of my loyal blog readers as well. In fact, I would argue it is required reading for all who care for little girls. It's never too early to leave a life-saving impression!)


Although many of my colleague are quick to condemn Brenda for lying to them about her mysterious ailments and chronic medical conditions that seemed to defy a physiologic explanation, I for one, cannot bring myself to cast a similar stone. Maybe it's because I can see more clearly the good despite the bad afterhaving spent more time with her in the recent past than all the others. Or perhaps, more importantly, I have come to realize that my life as a sponsored athlete (at least for the first week) isn't in actuality all that different from hers. In my case, I am asked to excel both in my professional life and in my athletic pursuits. Because of my status as a sponsored athlete, I feel an obligation both internally and externally to do the absolute best that I can in my target races despite the fact that I know I am neither capable of winning a race or an age group award. So I ask you, as I ask myself multiple times in the past week, isn't that a form of self-delusion? To act the role and play the part despite all evidence to the contrary, isn't that the motto of an impostor?

Before you answer that and further incriminate yourself, I would submit that as runners, we are all impostors on some inherent and subconscious level. For what do we do in the hours, minutes, and seconds right before a goal race but visualize in our minds our victories at the line. We make plans, write down goals and conduct ourselves as if we know we'll ultimately achieve our goal. Whether we get there or fail miserably on race day isn't really the point. The point is whether we prepared adequately, trained hard, and fueled properly to delude ourselves into thinking we have a chance, because as everyone knows, winning the battle of the mind is 90% of the war. To some you might be an impostor. To others you are just one of us, a real world runner.

So I ask again, who's really the impostor here?

17 comments:

Julie said...

I don't know Lam, I think you may be right that in fact, we all at certain times in our lives can be imposters. The mind is a very powerful thing and often messes with our heads and reality. The mind can also do wonderful things and work in positive ways as well. Unfortunately, we may not always be consistent with our way of thinking...both logic and fantasy.

I am yet again going to spend time reflecting on your written words:) I hope that you have an awesome day Lam!!

pigtailsflying said...

I understand what you are saying Lam. I agree in a certain way. How many times have I 'acted as if' until I felt confident enough to believe I simply 'was?' MANY TIMES.

However, I think the idea of an imposter carries some sort of malicious intent. An imposter willfully deceives in order to gain an advantage or a reward. I don't think you have any decptive intent, rather you are merely dreaming of a better self (towards which you are continually striving).

Morgan said...

pigtailsflying took the words right out of my mouth! I have put my game face on and talked a good one but inside I was scared as the dickens! We do this because we want to believe we are capable of the things we set out to acheive even if we don't know.

Joe Garland said...

What does "sponsored athlete" mean?

NY Wolve said...

Hmm. I suppose to be an impostor is to project a false impression. If nothing else, running is one thing where that pretty darn impossible. To quote Bill Parcells "You are what you are." We can measure ourselves by a clock, and there is always someone faster and stronger. For me anyway, that keeps me humble and whatever delusions I may have, well, under control by looking at the people in front of me.

Running and living said...

I can see your point, Lam. We all have different personae at work, at home, in various environments. However, that poor woman is more than an impostor. She is terribly sick. Your empathy is going to help with the case, and certainly help her feel comfortable, but you don't want to be colluding, as that would do more harm thank good.

carpeviam said...

Nicely said. Deep thoughts. Hmmm...I just like to run. ;)

elodie said...

I agree with what some others have said. Turning the metaphor of impostor on everyone who dares to imagine themselves better than they are, is a stretch. Apart from intent to deceive, most (healthy) runners aren't shattered when their illusions fall short of reality. We're not afraid to have our illusions tested. In fact we long for it, however poorly we may ultimately deal with that disappointment.

烤肉 said...

先告訴自己希望成為什麼樣的人,然後一步一步實踐必要的步驟。........................................

joyRuN said...

What we choose to portray in our every day interactions & what let others see in us is but a teeny fragment of who we really are - the tip of the iceberg. Is it posing? Maybe yes. But I think for the most part, people want to others to dig deeper & understand.

That just made perfect relevant sense in my head, I swear.

Joe Garland said...

Thanks for noting on my site that you don't know what to expect from your Saucony deal. I would assume that you're expected to continue doing whatever it was that got you the deal in the first place.

As to "imposter," I think that means someone holding herself out as being something other than what she is, as Wolve says. Insofar as you think that wearing a full Saucony kit will give people the wrong impression, i.e., that you are in it to win the race or at least get an age-group award, there's not a lot you can do about it beyond correcting them of the misimpression, saying the sponsorship is about something other than speed of foot.

Also akin to what Wolve and "Janet" say, imposters don't last long in this business. Sure they can worm their ways too far to the front of a start, but once the horn goes all pretenses are gone. No runner is an imposter to herself.

As to your more general, strawman observation, the pejorative "imposter" is inapt for most runners I know. They strive mightily aware of their limitations and hopeful of their ability to get near to if not touch those limits. They don't spend a lot of time chest-pounding and telling others, or themselves, that they're going to run, say, a 33 10K when the best they can hope for is a 36. No, that runner is going to try to compose herself well enough and execute her plan well enough to get that 36, not posing but confident and realistic in her expectations.

Finally, I think it sad that so many health professionals are ready to "condemn" a patient who did, so far as this layman understands, what someone in her condition does.

X-Country2 said...

I'm with pigtails too. Best wishes to this girl.

Psyche said...

I understand the correlation to running that you're drawing with this girl, but it feels wrong to me. It seems to me that when the runner acts like an imposter it's for the purpose of trying to live up to their fullest potential. The type of imposter activity someone with an eating disorder engages in is the exact opposite- they are reacting to trauma via coping mechanisms.

As everyone else has said, I really hope she getshelp.

Katie said...

Hey Lam, having stretch goals doesn't make you an impostor. Telling people you won a race when you didn't, cutting a course short, or making up PR times that would make you impostor. Being honest about dreaming big, that's putting yourself on the line. After all, there's always the fear we won't accomplish our goals, and then we have to come back and share our failures. That makes us real.

Your sponsor knows your capabilities and obviously they feel your worth sponsoring regardless of the fact that you don't necessarily win races.

The Happy Runner said...

Just read both parts. Very interesting. I think you are right in many ways. And, I think it goes beyond running and all that. I often feel like an imposter as a mother. What do I know about being a mom? I used to feel that way when I worked full time -- what made me qualified to lead a department? I guess we all deal with the imposter syndrome to greater or lesser degrees.

Anne said...

I think that there's an important difference between BEING an imposter and FEELING like an imposter. They are extremely different...one is linked to deceit and the other to low self-confidence in a domain. My two cents :)

Ms. V. said...

I'm not following. I'm trying. This girl is ill, not to be condemned.

 
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