Pretender in the Mirror

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At some point in our lives, personal and professional, we have to face the pretender in the mirror. Some of you are slightly annoyed that I just called you a pretender. Don’t worry, I sit next to you and I have had to face my own pretender—and she scared the snot (I say “snot” for my Granny’s sake) out of me!

If you are over 30, Your “pretender radar” may be slightly elevated. You have likely felt the slight internal sensation that “something is off ”. You have likely heard a small voice questioning your life and career path; the older you get, the louder the voice gets. Depending on your level of self and emotional awareness, you may be happily ignoring this voice and the slight sensation of discomfort in your gut (or the headaches, stomachaches, heart palpitations, anxiety, etc). You may just be labeling all of this “normal stress” and going about your business, hoping it goes away.

If you are over 40, Your “pretender radar” is extremely elevated. You have defiantly felt all of the above. The small voice has escalated to a scream. The question of “something is off”, turns into “you better fix this now”. The sensations of discomfort in your body will escalate to pain, and perhaps some obvious or quiet, but noxious health issues. You will (or have) masked it by hiding behind the identity of your:

  • Achievements,
  • Your social status
  • The quality and quantity of your material possessions
  • Your appearance
  • The number of followers you have on social media
  • Your family
  • Etc, etc.

You have also just labeled this “normal stress”, but you now have to face that fact that this “normal stress” is taking a toll, and you are sick of feeling bad (physically and emotionally). Those of you that have developed a practice of self and emotional awareness, you have likely admitted that in addition to developing your physical and emotional health, you have to work on your spiritual health also.

If you are over 50+, Your “pretender radar” is either maxed out or starting to decline. You have felt all of the above and depending on your level of self, emotional and spiritual awareness you have begun a new life and/or career path. At this age, you will not say you are perfect or that you have it all figured out, but you will have a deeper sense of peace and calm. IF you have faced the pretender in the mirror, your “pretender radar” will have begun to decrease and calm down. IF you have not faced the pretender yet, you will. It will come.

Facing the pretender in the mirror is not a judgmental or pejorative phrase. It is simply labeling that thing that we will all go through in our adult development. It is that thing I wish wasn’t true about adulthood, but it is. Some have called this a mid-life crisis. I like to call it a Mid-Life Integration, a time in our lives where we get honest with ourselves about who we are and what makes us the most creative and fulfilled in this life.

 Traditionally, people don’t do this in their 20’s or early 30’s, because in those stages we are still experimenting, building, and achieving. In the 20’s and early 30’s we are shedding the things from our families, creating our own lives and identities, and enjoying the accomplishments that we have created for ourselves—it is a time of building and creating—and it is awesome. Until; until it isn’t.

As we add to life, we must also let-go. And each and every one of us will get to a point where we have to let-go. We will let-go of:

  • Who we thought we were
  • Who our families wanted us to be
  • Who we should be
  • Who we wanted to be
  • And, who we pretend to be

Once we do this, we slowly (sometimes very slowly) shed the pretender, and then slowly begin to integrate the parts of ourselves, personal and professional, that feel more authentic and real. Slowly we begin to see the real-self in the mirror. And when the real-self emerges there is a fantastic, indescribable jolt of “Yes, this is where I’m supposed to be”! This moment, and the moments that follow, are worth the work! (And it is work, a lot of work!)

Cheers to your pretender, Cheers to your real-self, and good luck getting the jolt,

Dr. Shanna

Photo Credit: Thank you, David Marcu