Cassandra Went From Feeling Like An Imposter and Burning Out, To Feeling Calm And Having Fun Again

Aug 22, 2022

Cassandra* sat down to tell me about the transformation she experienced through The Balanced High Performer program.

*Name has been changed to protect privacy.

What was your situation back when you decided to join the program?

I think what was going on at that time, as I'm reflecting now, is that my identity was really fused with my job. In my first position in a non-profit, I felt like I wasn't fulfilling my role. There wasn't room for professional development, and there was just much more that I wish I could have done. And then I got another job doing clinical work where I then felt deeply that I was not suited for my job title. I felt like it was my fault that I was failing in the environment, not really understanding that the environment played a great part. But it really felt like I wasn't cut out for it. I definitely had imposter syndrome, just feeling I wasn't good enough at my job.

And when that identity at work was falling apart, other areas of my life also destabilized. I was like, okay if I'm not good enough at this, then I'm not good enough as myself (as a person). I think that really led to my burnout. Just a crumbling of my identity. I had high expectations of myself and I felt like I wasn't fulfilling it. Little things were starting to really make me anxious, so that also really affected how I was performing. 

Even just watching your first training video was just really validating - to be able to realize, “okay so it's my mindset that put me here.”  You validated that it is also the systems that we work in, but it's also the mindset that I grew up with of, “You have to be the best,” “There's nothing but perfectionism,” and “You have to work hard.” It was really hard to have work-life balance.

What was the biggest transformation you've gotten and how has this impacted your life or your career?

Definitely practicing self-kindness and acceptance and just having fun again with myself, instead of having to make everything about “being the best.”  I’ve been able to reclaim those things for myself, and understand that I don't have to study so many different trainings in order to be a good professional or clinician. Trainings can help, but what I've learned is that it's better to be present.  

I used to focus much more on my deficits -  what I didn't have - because of my high expectations. Letting that go really helps me feel much calmer and more comfortable with my role, or even just with myself.

“I used to focus much more on my deficits -  what I didn't have - because of my high expectations. Letting that go really helps me feel much calmer and more comfortable with my role, or even just with myself.”

What surprised you the most about working with me?

I really enjoyed the playfulness and the art. You're a very fun and creative person and it was really fun working with you! It was surprising just to have this space to do the art for myself. I've never really used art to explore parts of myself, which is strange to say out loud, but for so long it's been about creating art for something else. I really got to tap into my creativity but also my hobbies and interests like video games and my miniatures, and really having that take on a different part of how I view myself.

I really appreciate the psychoeducation you gave, too, about our brain and how our brain works, and about stress. I still remember the somatics - the slides about how our emotions feel in, or express itself, in our body. That image has really stayed with me and it's been really helpful for me to understand myself, as well as in my work.

Who would you recommend this program to?

The first thing that comes to my mind is other Asian Americans who don't feel like they're perfectionist but have grown up with very strict perfectionist tendencies. I don’t think a lot of people self-identify as perfectionists, but I do hear perfectionism talked about through the “model minority.” But then it’s more like, “Oh, but I don't believe in that,” you know?

Even I thought, “There's a model minority myth, but I don't believe in the model minority because it’s a myth. So, it doesn't affect me.” But I hadn’t really thought about how the model minority myth actually really affected me growing up

What would you say to someone who is maybe on the fence about joining the program?

I’d actually say one of the first things you said to me which is that it's okay to invest in ourselves. It's okay to take this time and we're worth it! For me, specifically, I was spending so much time and money on frivolous things that bring me joy short-term, but hadn't really focused on me inwardly. So for me, I was really glad for you to have said that. At first it sounded strange to me, but I now feel like it’s true. This is just as important as other knowledge or training we go through. It’s life wisdom to really go inside and to really explore ourselves. 

“It’s ok to invest in ourselves. I don't have to get to some amazing point in my life where everything is stable to start working on myself.”

For a long time in my life, I would think, “Now is not the time to work on myself. Now is the time for me to find a job.” Like, I can't work on myself and also work. But then I realized, I am worth it. I don't have to get to some amazing point in my life where everything is stable to start working on myself. It's really better to do it now. Instead of just struggling and crying, going through painful emotions for months.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

I just want to say I think you're a great coach. That inner child moment with you really brought tears to me and the images that you had us create is something that will stay with me for a long time. You were also really adaptable to my questions and you really heard and listened to me. You’re really validating and it was just a really pleasant experience overall. Thank you!

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