Updated: Dec 10, 2019
Welcome to the very first episode of Grace in Progress! Are you being your true self or do you have Imposter Syndrome like I have experienced? This episode covers a brief introduction of who I am, why I am doing a podcast, and what's in it for you. :)
References: "Unmet Aspirations as an Explanation for the Age U-shape in Human Wellbeing" by Hannes Schwandt https://www.iza.org/publications/dp/7604
Welcome to the very first episode of Grace in Progress. My name is Briana Leach, and I think that if you woke up this morning, then you have purpose. This podcast is all about helping you take small steps to become the person you were created to be and learn to give yourself lots of grace along the way. I usually fumble over introductions because there are so many layers to who you are, but for the sake of time, I will tell you that I am a professional counselor. Also I am a professor who teaches on self-awareness. And two of my favorite titles are being wife to Ben and mom to three amazing kiddos!
It took me several years to figure out where all of my career aspirations were pointing, but it became very clear that I was on a personal crusade for everyone to know how awesome they are. I'm hoping we can do that through this podcast, even if it's just my mom and a few friends listening. Hey, guys! But my goal is for you to listen to this, learn a little bit about yourself, and walk away with an action item to help you keep moving forward. Look, that sounds a lot easier said than done. And this is not one of those podcasts where I just talk about how fantastic I am and that you should do everything that I'm doing...not even close. But I do want to be real with you, share with you things about myself personally and also as a counselor, and I am a research junkie...so whatever current research is out there on that topic is what I'll be sharing. I love being a counselor because I get to ask questions. I either want to be Nancy Drew, FBI agent, or counselor, and I chose counseling. I'm very passionate about asking questions that help you get to know yourself a lot more and just know how great you are. I honestly wish I could sit down with every single person that I encounter and have coffee and just help them figure out how cool they are. But unfortunately, I do not own a Starbucks, nor do I live in the town that you are currently in (that I know of) and I am not able to do that. So this is a very close second, and I am so glad to be with you at this very moment.
I had a few ideas of what I wanted the first episode to be about and honestly, in the process of creating this podcast, it was such a learning process that it became its own topic of sorts. In counseling, I have met lots of fantastic people or wonderful people who don't even realize how great they are until we uncover a little bit more about themselves. This is because most the time they're walking around trying to be someone's idea of something or some expectations that have been set on them, whether they be good expectations or bad expectations. Maybe they were told to be they were going to be a failure their whole life and they lived up to that. Or maybe there were people that were looking at friends or people in culture or pop culture celebrities, local leaders that they were trying to model themselves after. And they've started living out what I call imposter syndrome, which is exactly what I was going through the first time I tried to launch this podcast.
Years ago, I started a blog. I joke with my husband that I'm a failed blogger because I would write something and I would fine-tooth comb it and obsess over it and try to perfect it. And I always felt like it didn't quite express what I was trying to say as much as when I could just talk about it. So obviously I chose a career where talking is my full time job. But I had so many things on my heart and in my mind that I wanted to share with other women, and I just couldn't find the avenue for it. I tried a blog, failed miserably. Um, okay, I shouldn't be that hard myself, but I wrote several posts. It did okay. And then I just stopped. I couldn't keep up with it because it felt inauthentic. So a few years go by, I start listening to a ton of podcasts, and I fell in love with them. I had never thought about doing one of my own until a few different friends that didn't know each other had kind of mentioned it to me. And I thought, OK, I'll look into it. So I started just doing what I heard, I guess. I recorded a intro podcast. This was several months ago, and I was so proud. I sat down. I did it. I thought I did a great job and I had my husband listen to it that night. And he sat there in the recliner, headphones on and kind of looks over at me while he's listening to it. And it was that look of oh, he's not thinking what I'm hoping he's thinking - that this is the greatest thing he's ever heard. But instead he finished and he said, "First of all, it's way too long. And second of all, it doesn't sound like you," and I got so offended. I was so upset that how dare you say it doesn't sound like me, I said and did all the things that other people do on their podcasts. When I kind of defended myself and we got an argument over it, you know, I'm saying stuff like "you're not even who I would be talking to" or whatever, but once the dust settled a little bit, I realized he was totally right. I re-listened to it. He said at the very end, when I was talking about what I was passionate about - helping listeners realize how great they are, helping them get to the next step of, you know, goals and achievements in their life - he said that sounded like me and I had to agree. I realized I was trying to sound exactly like the podcast that I liked. And it took some soul searching over the last several months, almost a year now and realizing that no one could be me as well as I can. And I had to get to a point where I was okay with not sounding or being like the podcast that I listened to. I think that's why each podcast even exists is because there's not something else like it.
There are days I wish I could just click a button on my phone or a computer, and someone would tell me "you're doing a really good job, Briana" - I hope this podcast is that button for you because you are. You're doing an awesome job. Whatever you're doing today, you're making progress, and that's all that matters. Progress honestly is defined as a movement towards a goal. It doesn't say huge movements. It doesn't say you know, monumental life changing start anew. Habit 21 day cleanse thing. Today it is any movement toward a goal. What goals are you working toward right now? They don't have to be huge. But even just day to day...maybe you're a student and you're working towards graduation. Maybe you're in a new job and you're working towards a promotion. Maybe you're a mom and you're just trying to make it one day at a time and constantly questioning yourself. But whatever those goals are, have you taken the time to look around and see if imposter syndrome is slowing you down? I can truly say that is what took me so long to just take this leap and create a podcast. I was trying to be someone I'm not, and I finally just thought "Here I am. Take it or leave it. Worst case I save all this and archive it for my kids to listen to some day."
But looking at your own life, what are you comparing yourself to? In counseling, I ask my clients who or what is your measuring stick? How do you know you're being a good (fill in the blank)? How do you know you're a good friend. How do you know you're good human? How do you know you're a good mom? What does that look like to you? If you don't clearly define those, it's gonna be really difficult to know that you're on the right track or you might have these unrealistic expectations of what that (fill in the blank) looks like. And you will beat yourself down. Please don't do that. It is exhausting to try to be something that you're not and to try to attain unattainable goals.
I was actually just reading about a study, it was in the Journal of Economic Behavior or something like that, and no, those aren't just sitting around in my house. But I look up certain topics like depression that is caused by unmet expectations, or why people get so wrapped up in trying to reach these goals that other people have imposed on them or they've created in this idealistic world. Anyways, the study was over 130,000 people and they walked away from it with this visual image of a U shape of happiness. Starting in mid twenties at the top of the U going down and coming back up, not until late sixties. So in that lower valley time in the bottom of the U, people were depressed. They were unhappy. They were constantly striving for these expectations that they weren't meeting. We're talking 40 years in the Valley. That was really challenging to me, just thinking, What am I doing to combat this and how my encouraging other people to combat this as well to find contentment in the season that you're in, or to find just your own voice and your own unique personality?
There are many ways to explore this more and to get to know yourself more. But we will save that for another day. For now, I want you just to take a moment, ask yourself where I am being someone that I'm not. And also, are there areas of my life where I am 100% myself? The gauge I usually use for this is, do you leave an interaction with someone or a situation and feel energized, or do you feel drained? When you are operating within your strengths, (which I will definitely come back to) you are operating as your authentic self. You feel energized. You feel like you've contributed. You feel like you have been authentic. And the opposite of that would be feeling totally drained, totally stretched. There are times we feel stretched even when we're being ourselves. But you know what I mean. You will feel like someone has sucked the life out of you because they literally have. They've put these expectations on you and you are not able to be who you really are.
Do I even recognize when I'm being inauthentic, or have I done it for so long that it's second nature? That is a really important question to ask yourself. If introspection and slowing down are very unfamiliar to you, then you are listening to the right podcast. Because the goal of this is lots of grace - learning what grace even means in your life. Lots of slowing down and taking those small steps towards being fully you. It's going to cause a ripple effect in your family, with your friends, but most importantly, on the inside of you. So as I wrap up this very first episode, thanks for hanging on and listening to the whole thing. I appreciate it more than you know. And I really hope that you can walk away with being able to answer if you are dealing with imposter syndrome. The tangible way to apply grace this week is when you catch yourself being inauthentic or having imposter syndrome, trying to be someone you see on Instagram or someone you see on Facebook, stop yourself. Take a deep breath. Give yourself grace and say, "this is not who I am." It's exhausting. I'm gonna be who I was created to be, which I'm still learning about before today I'm doing the very best I can. You've got this and I'm cheering you on. Thanks for listening.