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Maintaining Motivation

On Mondays, my various social media feeds are filled with #MotivationMonday posts. Motivation to eat healthy. Motivation to exercise. Motivation to push forward in whatever today’s activity happens to be.

Some weeks, I welcome the motivation. Other weeks, not so much.

Other weeks, these kinds of posts make me feel incredibly guilty. I don’t have the energy to go running or work out, I think to myself. I don’t have the budget to make this kind of food.

That means I’m not motivated enough, right?

It’s not really a secret that the past 4 years have granted me a very intense case of impostor syndrome. While it’s usually discussed as an issue of institutionalized and/or internalized sexism, L.V. Anderson at Slate points out further research by the term’s originators, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, that indicates “impostorism” is “not a syndrome or a complex or a mental illness, it’s something almost everyone experiences.”

While this is an entirely unscientific speculation, I wonder sometimes if my own feeling of being an impostor stems in part from the existence of the internet and my heavy use of it. (Instagram is a special source of guilt in my life.)

Anderson points out that just knowing impostorism exists helps to reduce the intensity of the feeling, and reminding myself of that does occasionally help me maintain my motivation. At other times, though, despite whatever I’ve done that week or that month that clearly tells my logical side otherwise, I end up in a black hole of despair that’s difficult to climb out of. I know in the deepest part of me that every opportunity that opens up before me is sheer dumb luck, just a case of being in the right place at the right moment, and soon everyone is going to realize that I’m actually a total fraud.

I shouldn’t feel this way, as Anderson explains:

The truth is everyone who’s successful owes some of their success to luck. Most people have a hard time accepting compliments. And there’s an even chance that most of the people around you really are more intelligent than you are—and a better than even chance that they know more than you do about certain topics.

Because when I consider it logically, every opportunity is about being in the right place at the right moment. Opportunities, after all, aren’t something that can be created deliberately. And, I tell myself when it feels especially intense, how did you get to the right place at the right moment, anyway?

I put myself there. With my own work and my own initiative.

Maintaining motivation when I feel inadequate isn’t very easy, because when I feel like a fake and a fraud, the fear and shame I feel makes me want to stop everything and hide. But at times like those, I find that it helps to be surrounded by things that remind me what I’ve achieved through working hard and things that remind me of who I am and what my goals are.

That’s why anyone who stops by my work desk sees me surrounded with warmth, color, and brightness. I surround myself with small things that make me happy: bright prints, a colorful ID case on a little hook, and different Pusheens all over. (Right now, I’m clocked in at 4, with two being gifts from friends.) Color has always made me feel happy, and while minimalism is totally in style right now, I never feel comfortable without the coziness of a life stuffed full of ideas, colors, and memories.

And above my computer, I have two prints inspired by the TV show Agent Carter. One reads “Sometimes the best man for the job is a woman.” The other: “I know my value. Anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.”

And that’s the reminder I know I need every day.

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