Imposter Syndrome

“Resistance will tell you anything to keep you from doing your work. It will perjure, fabricate, falsify; seduce, bully, cajole. Resistance is protean. It will assume any form, if that’s what it takes to deceive you. It will reason with you like a lawyer or jam a nine-millimeter in your face like a stickup man. Resistance has no conscience. It will pledge anything to get a deal, then double-cross you as soon as your back is turned. If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit.”
― Steven Pressfield,The War of Art


I recently was invited by dear friend and mentor Craig Douglas / Shivworks to come to Arizona and be his AI (assistant instructor) for his Armed Movement In Structures (AMIS) coursework he was presenting there.

I have studied under Craig for nearly a decade. I’ve been through all his courses multiple times as a student, successfully ran the Pittsburgh PA Training Group for longer than that, have taught the Shivworks material in formal classes for years, and been Craig’s AI a  number of times with ever increasing amounts of presentation time and responsibility. This should be familiar to me Id think.


But its not. He’s flying me down. This isn’t my venue. I’m not good enough. The thoughts pour in. I don’t know these students. He’s going to put me in front of the class to teach a block, I better know it. The self doubt, the fear, the resistance is palpable. I hate flying. I find excuses easy. It’s a long trip, that’s my wife birthday, we have a friend in from out of town. I fear disappointment, what if I stumble on my delivery, what if the students don’t like me.

“The imposter syndrome is a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. Not an actual disorder, the term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, when they found that despite having adequate external evidence of accomplishments, people with imposter syndrome remained convinced that they don’t deserve the success they have. “

-Psychology Today

I know immediately when I feel these things that it’s something I need to do. It’s my compass. The fear points the way forward.  When I’m on my deathbed I won’t be wishing I had squandered more time in comfort or lamenting the number of naps I took.

It’s important to me to share this, because while the little liar in my head says everyone else is confident and sure and that I should put on a pretend persona I know its not true. I know you dear reader have opportunities in front of you that your scared to take too. I know the skilled and gifted out there who feel alone need to hear this. I need to hear it, all the time. You are not alone, nor am I. There is work to be done and we are worthy of the effort.

I went to Arizona. It went splendidly. There’s spots on my delivery I could clean up. I see room for progress. I’m grateful I’ve learned to keep moving forward regardless of how I feel or think. I’m grateful I didn’t miss this opportunity, now on to the next one! Edged Weapons Overview (EWO) at Race Street Range in a couple weeks, followed shortly after with the chance to work under the outstanding Cecil Burch / IAC.

My friend, training partner, and tattoo artist Seth told me “Say yes to everything.” That’s advice to take to heart.

Shawn Lupka


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