For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a Doctor.

Well, that’s the degree I’ve earned, but to be honest, I don’t always feel like one. To be even more honest, sometimes, I’m not sure that I deserve to hold that title at all. Taking honest in a different direction, I could actually care less about the title “doctor,” because that’s not who I am or what matters in the slightest. I’m a human being who cares about helping other human beings.

Regardless of title, I sometimes find myself standing in the clinic and other places in life (like writing this blog) feeling like an imposter. It’s a unique feeling to describe. It almost feels like I slipped past the cracks and somehow gotten to where I am without being qualified. In some ways, it feels like I’m hiding in a shell of myself just waiting to be exposed as a fraud. It’s in those moments that I have to remind myself that we’re all in the same boat and that even though I feel like an imposter, I’m not. Instead of letting those feelings crush me, I need to keep on going, giving intentional effort, doing the next right thing and fake it until I make it believing it until I become it.

Believe it until you become it.

This blog is tailored toward anyone who reads it because whether you’re a doctor, a blogger, a husband or just a human, chances are you’ve felt like, are feeling like or will feel like an imposter.

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Having been out of school for over a year now, it’s interesting to look back and consider advice from physical therapy student me circa last year. In particular, it’s ironic how my own guidance tends to be what I need most in times of self-doubt, both in the clinic and elsewhere. I had the honor of delivering the graduation speech to the Drexel DPT class of 2019 and in it I said;

“When you feel overwhelmed and experience self-doubt [it will happen], just remember that not everything that matters shows up in the numbers or on paper. Remember that the important things – how we care for other people, how we love other people and our intentions to leave the world just a little bit better than we found it – can’t always be quantified. When you’re not sure what to do next, just do the next right thing; fall back on the fundamentals and choose to be there for the people who you treat.  Make it part of your job [life] to help your patients believe in themselves. Find ways to show your patients that they can and things will fall into place. No matter where we end up in our careers, I want to remind us never to underestimate the power of human connection. Above all else, care about people, make them smile, be there for them, believe in them and give them hope.”

I concur with past Joe. The most important qualities of a great physical therapist (and person) aren’t ones that require schooling. So if you’re feeling like an imposter, let me tell you how to proceed…

  • Don’t freeze.
  • Do the next right thing.
  • Gather small wins.
  • Get advice from others.
  • Care about people.
  • Give your best effort.
  • Be intentional with your path.
  • Be consistent in your pursuit.
  • Love other people.
  • Be a good human first.

The thing about imposter syndrome is that it’s different for everyone. It can be transient or in can linger for a long time. It can create a sense of paralyzing panic or it can ignite somewhat of a forced confidence. It can be a vague feeling that is hard to pinpoint or it can be exactly what you think it is.

Whatever it feels like for you, just know that you’re not alone. We all feel like imposters from time to time, but at the end of the day, if our effort and intentions are in the right place, things will be just fine. When it’s all said and done, doubt is normal but confidence is born through action, effort, failure, persistence and repetition. When you feel like an imposter, in the clinic or in life, keep going. Instead of faking it until you make it, believe it until you become it. It’s only a matter of time. Before I close out, let me leave you with one more thought. If you never feel like an imposter, you might still be too far in your comfort zone. It’s possible that imposter syndrome comes on (in part) because we stretch ourselves (or the idea of what we should be). That’s not a bad thing. It’s not a bad thing to want to be more, but don’t let the thought of being more ever make you feel like you’re not enough.

Don’t ever let the drive to be more make you feel like you’re not enough. But don’t let feeling good enough stop you from chasing great.

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I would be remiss if I didn’t disclose my current bout of imposter syndrome with you all. The act of writing has always evoked imposter-like feelings. For some reason, the keyboard makes me feel like I lack credibility. Maybe it’s because I’m making this ll up as I go along, but I guess that’s what all writing is. This month (August 2020), I’m starting the first ever joerinaldi.blog newsletter as a paid service. It was a difficult decision to create this paid content ($3/month) because part of me (the imposter) felt like it wasn’t worth the cost. Then I remembered that I can (and will) provide value. I have experience writing, my content has proven helpful to many and I bring a lot to the table. I had to talk the imposter out of me, but now that we’re here, let me give a shameless plug. If you’re interested in getting more frequent and exclusive content sent to your email on a weekly basis, give me a shot.

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From one imposter to another,

I’m Joe Rinaldi, the “doctor,” but more importantly, I’m a human being and a child of God.

“People might not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou

Believe it until you become it.

Joe Rinaldi, PT, DPT

IG: @joerinaldi.dpt

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