Some intrepid reporters interviewed me last week and, in turn, my babbling appeared in different locations around the internet. As a result, my stats are booming. The Twitter thing keeps chirping at me. I fear that my email inbox is now insurmountable with too many messages I would like to reply to, but only 24 precious hours in a day. People I haven’t talked to in years waved over the web at me to say how awesome they think I am.
So I’m feeling a wee bit of pressure from all this exposure. With a lot of new eyes peering at me and a lot of old eyes moist with pride, I feel obligated to tell you something, dear reader.
I have no idea what I’m doing.
A few years ago the term “imposter syndrome” started floating around the internet and a million personal reflections and articles followed with everyone eager to show off their humble bonafides.
a feeling of phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.
I can relate to this phenomenon because I’m an imposter. It’s not humility that forces me to question all the praise; it’s the terrifying thought that if I’m the template of a successful human, our species might be screwed. There are so many problems in the world and I want to solve one so freaking badly. It’s another item on that life bucket list. Unfortunately, I have no idea what to do about any of them because I have no idea what I’m doing in general.
I can only stop thinking about my Worry List when I concede to my anxiety that I’m an imposter. Someone else who is not an imposter will figure this shit out. Humanity has faced oblivion many times in the past. It’ll be okay.
Here’s part two of my confession. I’m lucky. I know I’m lucky. I know luck is 95% of the reason that I’m sitting here today.
First, my starting line was pretty good (and where you end usually depends on where you start). I popped out into existence with a yawn and sweet spot in the Universe – as an apex predator with opposable thumbs in a calm part of the galaxy. Score! I was born into the right family at the right time. You are who you are either (a) because of where you and/or your parents were born or (b) in spite of where you and/or your parents were born. I am definitely in the former category.
I’m lucky that I was in the “right” generation from that old proverb – a vantage point where I could clearly see the value of money, but not the struggle to subsist or the eventual squander. My genetic makeup, modern medicine and technology have, so far, kept me and everyone I hold super dear to my heart relatively healthy. Touch wood.
The aforementioned genetic makeup has also graced me with the love of reading and the spot in the universe indulged me with easy access to libraries. You’d be amazed by how much people have written about joy and finance and friendship and lists and everything in between. I am thankful that I enjoy reading because that makes the world my oyster. Humanity’s cumulative knowledge is written down, y’all. It’s all out there!
I’m lucky I did well on standardized tests. I’m lucky that I graduated college when I did. I’m lucky that I graduated law school when I did. I’m lucky that some of the books I read made sense to me. I’m lucky that I realized that “addiction to money is no less real than one to heroin.”
Sure, I’ll gleefully concede that I’m lucky. I know I made more money than the average bear when I was working as a lawyer, so it may be easy to dismiss my advice on money. But that would be stupid. Nobody is going to be in your exact same situation. You take what you can from other people’s thoughts and experiences and go from there.
I know the flashy headlines say I retired after working for 5 years, but I worked as a teenager. I worked in college. I worked after college. I worked in law school. I worked after law school. The more nuanced headline is that I worked for five years as a lawyer which allowed me to grow my nest egg large enough to assuage my own personal anxiety about money.
Maybe you won’t be able to do it as fast as I did, but so what? We had different starting points and we had different periods where Lady Luck graced us with her largesse. I’m guessing that you’re about as lucky as I am. Those are the odds about luck. I’m not extraordinary. I have no idea what I’m doing. I take from other people’s ideas and experiment to see what works for me. This is the path I’m walking and I’m enjoying the journey.
I know the second part of the title teases that I’d show you how to beat this imposter syndrome thing, but that was a lie to lure you in. Sorry.
Here’s a tiny nugget though: 95% might be luck. That 5% is still me. Okay, at least 2% is me. I also like to go all Saturday Night Live and tell myself: “You know as much as most people. You’re as lucky as most people. You work harder (or just as hard) as most people. You’re good enough. You’re smart enough. And doggone it, people like you.”
Except the haters. But the haters have to hate. If they didn’t hate, they’d just be normal people.