Liturgy: “Impostor Syndrome”

Impostor syndrome--a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud."

Home News & Events Stories

What is the King’s Liturgy? King’s Liturgy defines our experience together as a Christian community. It outlines the rhythms we celebrate with the Church at large: Scripture readings, Sabbath habits, and celebration of Holy Days and historical events.

This Week’s Lectionary Readings
Exodus 3:1-15
1 Corinthians 10:1-13
Luke 13:1-9
Psalm 63:1-8


This week’s liturgy is contributed by Danise Stokeld, Director of Academic Advising:

Impostor syndrome–a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” 

Look it up, it’s a thing!  I see it often here at King’s.  It seems many of you are incredibly talented, energetic students, continually doubting yourselves and thinking others are “much better”, whatever that means.  Somehow everyone else seems to have it all together, but you know deep down that you’re just hanging on.  Soon someone’s going to notice, the prof is going to ask the wrong question that you can’t answer.  Suddenly they’ll discover that you’re not actually that brilliant, you just study hard and fake it well. Guess what, based on many conversations in my office, quite a few of the students sitting around you are thinking the same thing!

Reading the account of the burning bush and then Moses’ exploits in Egypt, you have to wonder if he wasn’t one of the first cases of imposter syndrome.  He’d spent the last forty years out in the desert herding sheep.  What was he doing taking over leadership of these enslaved people? Or commanding things of the Pharaoh?  Or leading a mob through a dried up river bank?

The world’s advice for this syndrome?  Build yourself up, somehow convince yourself that you are just as good as others, learn to believe in yourself.  But when Moses is balking in self-doubt, that’s not where the Lord takes it.  He simply says, “Certainly I will be with you.”  That’s it. No building up of his ego, no reassurance of his great gifting, no pep talk. Just, don’t worry about it. I’ll be there, so it will be fine.  Moses continues to doubt and the Lord tells him, I made you, I’m going to help you.  When that still doesn’t convince Moses, it says “the Lord’s anger burned again Moses.” Whoa, wouldn’t want to go there!

Yet, as I type this, I have this overwhelming urge to make sure you understand that I really am an imposter!  My story sounds so exciting–met my husband-to-be in interviews for serving overseas, got engaged in Islamabad, Pakistan; moved to the former Soviet Union a year after it dissolved and watched history unfold; raised three kids who were fluent in a Turkic language none of you have ever even heard of, while traveling all over Central Asia and Europe.  Back in the US, I was handed my dream job without applying–twice. And now empty-nesting in NYC!

In reality, I’m just a small town Southern girl who’s not much of an adventurer, is a terrible tourist, hates crowds, and had no desire to visit NYC, much less live here. Don’t tell the Business faculty, but I don’t even have a LinkedIn account.  Talk about an imposter!

And yet, the Lord has been with me.  “Certainly He has been with me.”  So here I am living the dream (sometimes nightmare?) in the Big Apple.  Sure hope no one finds me out!

View more stories about: