You know it, you live it, you suffer through it: It’s IMPOSTER SYNDROME! This week on the show, executive function coach Mallory Band joins us to talk about the weight of the imposter on our shoulders and how we might use the lessons of executive functioning to shake free of it.
We start with a walk through imposter syndrome and how it manifests in our lives. Because it’s not just the imposter weighing on us, it’s the compound pressure of anxiety, fear, compulsive behaviors, and more that all play a role in how we see the person we see in the mirror.
Mallory wrote two pieces for ADDitude over the course of the last year on the subject. ‘How my Imposter Syndrom Sapped Me of Myself,’ which she followed up with, ‘How the Pandemic’s Uncertainty Forced Me to Become More Secure in Myself,’ both available to read for free. Connect with Mallory on LinkedIn and learn more about her work at Essig Education Group.
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Pete Wright: Hello, everybody. And welcome to Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast on TruStory FM. I’m Pete Wright, and over there, it’s Sicky Kinzer.
Nikki Kinzer: Still.
Pete Wright: Still.
Nikki Kinzer: Hello.
Pete Wright: You poor thing. Oh, I’m so good to see you. I’ve been worried about you. I’ve been thinking about you. You look great, you sound great, if just a little bit under there but, not nearly as under the weather as you sounded last time.
Nikki Kinzer: No.
Pete Wright: That was a real officer’s …
Nikki Kinzer: I’ve turned a corner.
Pete Wright: … yeoman’s effort. Yeah, you really, you did great. We are here, it is April. We are excited to be here. We are talking about imposter syndrome today. And so, I don’t know. I’ve been hyperfocusing on imposter syndrome all morning as we got ready for this show. And I can’t believe anything that comes out of my mouth anymore. I don’t know what the truth is.
Nikki Kinzer: Are you still a podcaster?
Pete Wright: I’m still a podcaster, nope. Not a very good one.
Nikki Kinzer: Not anymore. Oh, dang.
Pete Wright: Mallory Band is here. She’s going to talk to us. She’s actually an executive function coach show. It’s very much like cheese, she’s dealing with a certain subset of behavior neurological processing that I think is super useful. And so, I think her perspective will be great. We’ve got a couple of links in the show notes of some articles she’s written recently on imposter syndrome, so make sure to check those out. Before we get started, head over to takecontroladhd.com to get to know us a little bit better. You can listen to the show right there on the website or subscribe to the mailing list, and we’ll send you an email each time a new episode is released. You can connect with us on Twitter or Facebook at Take Control ADHD. And as always, if the show has ever touched you, head over to patreon.com/theadhdpodcast and learn about how you can become a member of this show community today. We’ve got all kinds of different things available at all kinds of different tiers, most pertinent to us right now. We’re starting a new month. That means happy hour is the first week of the month. Then we have coffee with Pete at the platinum level. That’s coming up on Friday. We’ve got coaching with Nikki, is coming up towards the end of the month for, again, Platinum folks. Happy hour is at the supreme level. There’s just all kinds of things at all kinds of levels. And you should check it out, patreon.com/theadhdpodcast.
Nikki Kinzer: But guess what?
Pete Wright: What?
Nikki Kinzer: Something has been added.
Pete Wright: What?
Nikki Kinzer: The accountability anchor.
Pete Wright: Accountability anchor. Oh, that’s my favorite bit of new branding that we have.
Nikki Kinzer: Yes. We are getting started ASAP, like as you’re listening to this podcast going live, accountability anchor is going to be going on. It’s available.
Pete Wright: What is accountability anchor? Tell the good thing.
Nikki Kinzer: It’s going to be in the platinum level. And what it’s going to be is we are offering three different times of accountability study halls, is basically what it’s going to be. But we’re going to call it accountability anchors. Otherwise, known as AA in a different way than what you might know AA to be.
Pete Wright: We’re rebranding AA?
Nikki Kinzer: Well, Melissa and I talked about this, and we’re like, this is a support. It is to help people in the community get things done and it’s a group. And so, it’s accountability anchor. That’s what it is.
Pete Wright: I love it.
Nikki Kinzer: We’re anchoring your accountability. And there’s going to be options on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And we’re still going to do Thursday afternoons with me. That’s going to be an open house where you can come in and out. We’re going to have all of these details on our website. And it’s a fabulous new thing that we’re doing, and it’s going to just keep evolving because we’re going to match people up with accountability partners. And we’ve got so many great ideas, and we need you to be part of it. If you’re looking for accountability and a group for support to get things done, check out the platinum level. You get all of those other things that Pete was talking about, but you also get accountability anchors.
Pete Wright: Can I tell you my favorite thing about accountability anchors?
Nikki Kinzer: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Pete Wright: Do you know my favorite thing about accountable anchors?
Nikki Kinzer: I have no idea what it is. Tell me.
Pete Wright: It’s the name of our Discord accountability rooms. Because then we’ve set up …
Nikki Kinzer: Right. We have special meeting rooms.
Pete Wright: … audio video channels in Discord in a new accountability anchor section that will go live very soon. And the rooms are named … Well, you just have to see if they sound familiar, one, Café Tropical, two, Monk’s Café, and three, Central Perk. And so, we’re going to be referring to our little gathering rooms when you get assigned to rooms and partners you’ll meet in Central Perk or Café Tropical or Monk’s Café. And I get a giggle every time.
Nikki Kinzer: I know. Well, and I’ve been listening … Or not listening, I’ve been watching Schitt’s Creek at night before I go to bed. And, oh my gosh, Café Tropicana, I’m going to be there.
Pete Wright: It’s right there. It’s right there.
Nikki Kinzer: Is that how you say it, Tropicana?
Pete Wright: Tropical, Tropical.
Nikki Kinzer: Tropical.
Pete Wright: Café Tropical.
Nikki Kinzer: Café Tropical, with David.
Pete Wright: David, ew.
Nikki Kinzer: Ah, David.
Pete Wright: Okay, let’s get started, huh?
Nikki Kinzer: Okay.
Pete Wright: Mallory. Mallory Band is here to talk to us about imposter syndrome. Mallory is an executive function coach. And she works with folks specifically around these issues, and came to our attention because she actually wrote an article on this. And it got Melissa’s attention, who got our attention and said, "We need to talk to Mallory about this stuff." It currently is working at ESSEC Education Group. Mallory, welcome to the ADHD Podcast.
Mallory Band: Thank you so much for that great introduction and for having me. I’m really excited just to speak and share my own personal experiences. I’m sure once we get into this, we’ll just take a deeper dive. But I will just start off by saying that, obviously, everything that I’m speaking about is coming from my own personal experience. And I think it’s pretty … I think people listening to this probably understand, but my experiences may not align completely with yours. And it’s not a one size fits all. But I’m hoping that you can take pieces from this or just feel validated, seen, heard, and any type of way. And I’m hoping I can provide you with some little nuggets to take with you and just realize that we’re in this together. And it’s tough, but …
Nikki Kinzer: That’s right.
Mallory Band: … this is life and we’re working on it. It’s a work in progress.
Nikki Kinzer: I love that. I know that Pete introduced you as an executive function coach. Now, is that the same thing as an ADHD coach or is it different?
Mallory Band: According to some people, we could use those labels as, yes, they’re two in the same. But I would not say that everyone I work with has ADHD. I would say, roughly the majority do have ADHD. But I am working with a wide range of individuals, from middle school, through high school, and young adults as well. I think that, yes, like I said, the majority of people do have ADHD, but a lot of it for some of the school aged kids is it’s very multifaceted. It’s twofold in that we are looking at different systems and processes that they typically don’t have that we want to create for them so that they can become the end goal, is usually how can we help this individual become more independent and self-reliant and confident. Yes, that does involve like they need to get their homework done, they need to know how to study. But is that the main purpose of like, let’s get straight A’s? No. I really don’t care about grades. I know some parents are like, yes, you have to do this. And, okay, that’s fine. But my philosophy is, really, let’s figure out these systems now so we can help you be successful throughout your academic career. But really, how do you become successful in the 21st century workforce? And how can you become an independent person who can provide your expertise in whatever area you want to pursue? I would say, the long answer short, not everyone I work with does have ADHD, but the majority of my clients do. But we really do work on a lot of these executive functions, skills, such as how do you initiate a task if you’re someone who procrastinates things, just saying, just do it? That doesn’t work. And how do you follow through? A lot of times, with some of the school age kids, they do the homework, but why does it say missing on Google Classroom? We didn’t execute the final step. Really, practicing a lot of these steps and they will mirror in real life, they were transfer into real life. And that’s my philosophy is, yes, we need to get through school. And for some people, school is just … It’s not the end all be all. And I think that’s a really important message. There’s not just one path to be successful. And I know that was not even your question, but just thinking about the broad schema of where I’m coming from.
Nikki Kinzer: No, I think that’s a really good point. Because especially, I work with a lot of college students, and especially when you brought up the grades. Because I’ll tell parents when they first come to me, we’re just getting the degree. Let’s just focus on getting the degree and it’s okay if it’s five, six years. It doesn’t have to be in four years. And I love what you’re saying. It doesn’t have to be college either. It can be a different way of learning. What’s so important is you find your passion and you find something that you love doing. And what’s the path to getting there is really what’s important, whether that’s a formal education or trade school or get an experience, work experience.
Pete Wright: Isn’t that an interesting transition into imposter syndrome, Nikki, that you have just painted for us.
Nikki Kinzer: Yes.
Pete Wright: That’s so brilliant. Because for me, when I see people who feel … There is one side of the imposter syndrome coin, which is I feel like an imposter because I’m doing this thing and I shouldn’t be here. For some reason, I shouldn’t be here. But the other side of it …
Nikki Kinzer: I don’t have the degree or the experience or …
Pete Wright: Yeah, right, right. And the other side of it is that I’m falling short of the world’s expectations of me, therefore I don’t belong here. If I can’t get the degree in four years, culture and modern human expectations, academic expectations would tell me, then I certainly don’t belong here. And so I feel like I’m living the dream on both of those fronts in so many ways. This is what I love about this, the article that Mallory wrote was in Attitude magazine, link in the show notes, was called How My Imposter Syndrome Sapped Me Of Myself. My goodness, that hit me right in the chest, right in the chest, like that hollow there. It just felt like that was about as clear a message and an image as I’ve ever heard related to this subject. Tell us please, Mallory, what does imposter syndrome mean for you?
Mallory Band: Yeah. I think I’ll start off by describing not a specific anecdote, but just something I remember, literally, as young as kindergarten where I felt like there was this enormous pressure put on me that I had to be perfect. And quite literally, I didn’t realize that those were my own expectations until, I don’t know, two years ago, this year. As I started doing a deeper dive in grad school with some special education work and as I gotten to this career shift from the main classroom into more of a focus on executive function and ADHD and some learning differences, I started to really get a handle on, oh my goodness, like I mentioned before we were talking the show, I can label that imposter syndrome. And some of these things were defining the path in which I was growing up in. And I think it was like, I never felt good enough if it was a 99. Even if it’s in a first grade spelling test, it’s like, well looking back and say, okay, well, that impacts me and 0% of my life. I still am not a great speller, and that’s okay. I still think I’m pretty smart. And I think just feeling super insecure in my own skin because I would get frustrated with myself that I couldn’t … I didn’t know that something was different. I would have these huge emotions and meltdowns, and it really frustrated when I was young. But I would get frustrated at my parents, but it was really me getting frustrated at myself because I didn’t understand why everything took so long, why I couldn’t do X, Y, and Z. But I think an important message around this is we don’t really see what’s going on behind closed doors with our peers’ lives when it comes to homework or how they’re functioning. And they might present themself one way at school and a different way at home. And I think that’s where some of this might have ignited because I would think that everyone was perfect, except for me. Why can’t I do things like that? And I think, too, imposter syndrome is almost like having this feeling of paranoia where like I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop and something’s always … I’m feeling on edge. I have no reason to think that I made a mistake or that something bad is going to happen, but that’s just the I’m comfortable and being uncomfortable in that way where that’s just how I view myself. Just feeling like, if it’s not perfect the first time, then you are a failure and there’s no point in proceeding. And I think a lot of it has to do with the super black and white rigid thinking that I do, that I’m really working on not doing anymore. Because it doesn’t serve me and it doesn’t help in any way.
Nikki Kinzer: That’s so true. Well, and that is where the stem of perfection is, is that black and white thinking. I’m glad that you brought that up because it is something that we see so often with ADHD years, is if it’s not perfect, it’s not right. Or if it didn’t have the outcome that you expected, then I did something wrong, it’s my fault.
Pete Wright: If it’s not perfect, it’s not worth doing. That’s a really damaging mental model for me, always has been.
Mallory Band: Yeah. And I think with that, too, comes hand in hand with the rejection sensitive dysphoria of, for me, particularly, it’s getting feedback. And anytime there’s feedback, it’s I don’t belong. If someone’s saying something’s not perfect, then I’ve completely messed up or missed the mark wholeheartedly. And I think that’s really challenging because it feels like I’m letting somebody down if it’s not perfect. When in reality, a lot of these expectations are self-driven. And that’s something I see a lot with the clients that I work with. It becomes really challenging to have move from a fixed to a growth mindset when we are feeling like we’re imposters and feeling like we’ve always done something wrong. When in reality, as a young adult, I’m learning this is life, no matter what your plan is, things are going to keep happening. And we have to be able to adapt, that some of the kryptonite that we can start to put in to kicking imposter syndrome to the curb is being adaptable and being receptive to feedback and thinking about what is this saying to me, can I take anything from this and use it to better myself? If not, great, then I’m just … Okay, thank you. And then leave it. I don’t always have to take feedback with me. And I think that’s … It all boils down to becoming more confident in ourselves. The more you understand yourself, the way that your brain works, it’s not easy, but it’s easier, you’re able to gain that wherewithal to persevere and to begin that growth process.
Nikki Kinzer: There’s something you said that really resonated with me, that I want us to talk a little bit more about. You mentioned you don’t have to take the feedback. I’m curious, can you expand more on what that means and how that would relate to a client of yours? They’re having an RSD moment, they’re feeling really rejected. How could you use that?
Mallory Band: Definitely. Something that I’ll see when I’m maybe let’s just take like a high school student, for example, and we’re working on, okay, what are the steps we use to chunk a five-paragraph essay? And how do we go through this? And I feel pretty comfortable writing five-paragraph essays in writing. But I will tell them, I’ve done high school, I don’t need to … If they’re feeling like, I don’t need to take your feedback or I don’t need to use this, that’s okay. I would always say, my idea is this. Again, this is your writing, you need to own it, I can’t put the pencil in your hand. If it were me, I might do X, Y, and Z. What do you think about that? How could you take that and tweak it to make it your own? And a lot of the times, it’s we want to move really quickly to get the paper done. And I don’t really care what the feedback is or that the student is not going to look at the teacher’s feedback. But I think we can think about, okay, if I get a grade that I don’t like or that I’m not happy with, how can I use that in the future to tweak things? How can we transfer this feedback? I might not have used it for this situation, but is there any way I could transfer it to a different situation? And I think being comfortable with just … Like I said, you don’t have to take everybody’s feedback for everything. I think we live in a place with social media and with everything, everybody has something to say, somehow everybody’s an expert on every single topic.
Nikki Kinzer: I really appreciate you saying that. And that’s why I think it resonated with me, is that it goes back to that all or nothing like, oh, well, if that’s what they said, it must all be true. But maybe you take the pieces that you can grow from it, but you may have a legitimate reason why you did something the way you did it and that other person doesn’t really understand. And so you can take the pieces that are the growth piece. Pete, I know you’re dying to say something.
Pete Wright: I’m dying to say something because you’re both coaches, and I need help. And I imagine I’m not alone. Because what both of you have said, ably and clearly, is we don’t have to take all the negative stuff, the stuff that’s ultimately damaging, et cetera. But I’m sitting here in this position listening to this thinking, okay, how? Because I know, cognitively, I want to not take that stuff so much to heart. I know I want to stop doing that. But I am in a place of just internalizing everything, like it’s a muscle that is way overdeveloped for its utility. And I end up taking it no matter what my internal voice says, don’t listen to that bad thing, don’t feel bad about that bad thing. Uh-oh, I just listened to the bad thing and I’m feeling bad about that thing. As coaches, I need you to help me, the ADHD anxiety kid, with a practice on how I might get to the other side of it.
Mallory Band: Yeah, I think that’s a great question. And I’ll even connect this to a book that my brother gave me as someone who just rumination is like if I would be rich, if that was a job because that is what … It’s all consuming. But I don’t want to say it because I don’t want to butcher the name, but it was this Buddhist term. And essentially, it’s you catch yourself getting hooked into something that’s not … Whether it’s feedback or just internal thoughts. Because I think that goes hand in hand. It doesn’t always have to be external feedback. It’s also our internal voice that leads to the rumination and the insecurities and the imposter syndrome. Something I’ve actually started to do is I will literally catch myself getting real hooked and reeled into something. And whether it’s rumination, whether it’s worrying about, oh gosh, that podcast I have to do is going to be horrible, I’m going to make a … Whatever it is, stop, take some deep breaths, and then I let it go. Because I’ve wasted so much time in my life ruminating on things that most likely are never going to happen. It’s a lot of irrational thoughts. And I think I’m truly just tired of doing the same rigmarole over and over again and I’m really missing out on things that are happening presently. And I don’t want to miss out on what’s going on around me because I’m always either pulled in the past or in the future. And that’s just not a great way to live. And on top of that, I know this sounds maybe like [inaudible 00:22:20], but I think something for me that’s really been helpful is having some mantras that I can really latch on to that have helped me think about my past successes. If someone’s giving me feedback of that doesn’t feel good or that’s not serving me, can I think of a similar situation or something that was parallel to this current situation? And how can I use that as a touchstone to realize, ooh, that was really hard. What were the one or two, three strategies I use to persevere and get through that? Because the crazy thing is, if you are living, you’ve gotten through every awful challenging day so far in your life, so it will pass. Nothing’s going to last forever. And it is awful when you’re in it. But looking back, that’s so easy, but really understanding I can do hard things. How did I do that hard thing in the past?
Nikki Kinzer: I love it. And that …
Pete Wright: That is so good.
Nikki Kinzer: It is so good.
Pete Wright: If you are living, you’ve already made it through hard stuff. Oh my god.
Nikki Kinzer: You’re here. You’re alive. And I love that you’re bringing us back into the moment, you’re bringing us back into the present. And that’s anxiety in itself, is about the past and the future and everything that we’re worried about that’s already happened or is going to happen that we think is going to happen. And so, I love that you’re having us go back into the present, but this too shall pass. That is the mantra. Because when I was listening to Pete talk, one of my thoughts immediately came to when this happens, how do you feel tomorrow? How do you feel a week from when that happened? It’s always different. It always feels different when a little bit of time has passed and where you can step back and see, okay, what do I need to take out of this? And what can I leave because it’s not serving me? And I think that’s where we go back to I don’t have to take all the feedback, I can leave some of that there too, because it’s not.
Pete Wright: You just said something that, I think, really stuck with me. And it’s because I’m so bad at sports metaphors. But there really is something to just saying, okay, leave it on the field. Leave it on the field. I took this in one context. And when I walk off the field and change context, I can practice not stressing about this thing, not thinking about this thing, not going over and over this thing in my mind, perseverating on those negative signals. That’s a practice though. That’s not a switch.
Mallory Band: Right. And I don’t think any of these are switches and I have my brain is going in a million directions, but a few things. I think that with what you just said, it’s that consistency compound. We didn’t get here in one day, we’re definitely not going to get out of these habits, we’re not going to unlearn these habits in one day. If we got here, and for me, if it’s been 29 years, it may take, hopefully, not 29 years to unlearn these. But it’s going to take some time to …
Nikki Kinzer: It’s a work in progress.
Mallory Band: It’s a work in progress. And I think, too, one of the things that I mentioned in the article, and I think that … I say it feels weird to say this, but it really does resonate with me. It’s something that I do try to share with others, is that catch yourself being good, catch yourself progressing. Because I think with imposter syndrome, a lot of the time, it feels good to be recognized by others and I have to always want the need for reassurance from others because we are insecure and we don’t have that confidence innately that other people might have. I think it’s really like, can you catch yourself being good? And what is one thing today that went well, not something, especially with some of the young adults I work with, is literally at the end of the day, not just mentally, but I want you to say it to a spouse, a friend, a family member, or write it down. What were three things that actually went well today? Whether it’s I was having this conversation yesterday, you got up at 8:00 and you didn’t snooze once. Excellent. That’s something to feel proud of, because that’s part of the routine. We’ve created that. You know in order for you to be successful, you need to be getting up and getting moving and sticking to that routine. Or if it’s like, for me, some of the things are, I didn’t respond to that email last night, impulsively. It feels uncomfortable to let it be, but maybe that’s, yay, good job me because I didn’t do that. And if I can do that one day and then another day and then one, two, three days, that’s already three days further than I would have been if I kept going along the path that’s not working. I think that’s so simple, but so powerful. It’s not easy, but it is simple to conceptualize.
Nikki Kinzer: What we’re talking about is how we are becoming more aware of our feelings and being more in touch with them, and then being able to do something with them. And I think that that is always the beginning of change, is when you’re aware that something’s happening and you can identify it, you can name it, you can even sit with it as it is for a while and then be able to think, okay, where is the opportunity? Where is the growth mindset that can come in?
Mallory Band: I think along with that, we can just acknowledge that the growth and any changes, they’re going to be super uncomfortable. It’s not going to feel good for quite some time. And I think if you can just understand and lean into the discomfort, then you’re definitely going to be able to run with it a little bit easier. Again, it’s not going to be easy, but just acknowledging this is going to be hard, it’s going to feel, meh, not good, for a while, then that’s going to really help you make some changes that you want to make. Because if we keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, whatever that quote is, it’s insanity. Nothing will change if we don’t change.
Pete Wright: Can we talk a little bit about the mask, the mask that we wear that is the forward facing mental model of armor that we use while we’re feeling terrible, and conflict that exists between what we’re feeling about a thing that we’re doing and what we are projecting about the thing that we’re doing. That conflict, I mean, it exists very deeply in me, for sure. And I am sure that I am not alone, because at least two people have already posted about it in the chat room. How does that internal conflict impact our self-image and how we relate to the world around us?
Mallory Band: I think that masking is something that’s super common in the ADHD community and myself having ADHD and anxiety, that’s a lot of fun. It’s really …
Pete Wright: Mask, mask.
Mallory Band: Right, exactly, exactly. I think something that, for me, is I have always felt like if I need to be in control, I need to be able to anticipate what is coming next. And if I don’t, then things become … I’m pulled in two different directions. Externally, I can keep it together. But internally, my mind is racing, I feel just awful. And I think one of the things that has been helpful in terms of trying not to always be masking to fit in is just that relinquishing control where when you can’t have it, and that is not a pleasant feeling, I think, as someone who is very rigid and who has to follow a very strict routine. But I think acknowledging just out loud, like you have to have a support system and be able to share with people of this feels uncomfortable. But if we hold everything in, obviously, what we’re doing is we’re internalizing all of these negative feelings, these poor feelings about ourselves. And then it springs the wheels on the shame and guilt spiral. And it just perpetuates, well, let’s put on the mask, let’s put on a show so we can be seen as smart and confident and outgoing and growth mindset based at work. But at home, having our spouse be the punching bag or ourselves be the punching bag, it’s a lose-lose situation. I think trying to be confident in just the fact or just gaining awareness and understanding for yourself that this is who I am, this is the brain wiring that I have, it’s not good or bad or the other, it just is. And if people are going to not support you when that mask comes off, then maybe that job isn’t a great environment, maybe we do need a different type of support system. Because that might not be serving you, that might be a really awful taste in your mouth to hear that and to have to make that type of change. But there’s no reason for you to have to feel any type of way in an environment when you’re already feeling insecure and second guessing yourself. You shouldn’t have to do that internally and externally at the same time, simultaneously. I think just trying to be open about what’s going on internally and see if you can create some type of connection between internal and external selves and with those around you, not just within yourself.
Nikki Kinzer: Well, and one thing I would add is I love that you’re talking about support, too. And I think that being able to have a community or support system that you can put that mask down and you’re not being judged and you don’t have to apologize or explain yourself and how important that is and how important it is to self-advocate for yourself. When there is a situation that comes up and you need to be heard, that you speak, that you speak louder, and you tell people what you need. Because you have a voice and it needs to be heard, it should be heard. Absolutely.
Pete Wright: Is there a way to rationalize masking as a utility as something that might be good for you?
Nikki Kinzer: Can I answer that real quick, Mallory, before you do?
Mallory Band: Sure.
Nikki Kinzer: Because I have a really good example. And I see it with my daughter. And she’s 16, almost 17, and she was diagnosed with ADHD a few years ago when she was in middle school. And I think there are times where it serves her. And I think there’s probably times where it doesn’t serve her. But one of the things that I’m really proud of her and I think that part of it is because we have such open conversations around ADHD, is that she’s not embarrassed about it. She’s not ashamed to tell people she has ADHD. And she’ll be the first to tell you why she does certain things because it’s how her brain works. But I also think she protects herself in certain social situations. And I think that that’s where it actually probably will serve her a little bit, is that … And you know this, Mallory, because you work with teenagers, they care so much about what other people think and how they are perceived. And so that I think there are times where she will mask some of her insecurities. And it almost, I don’t want to say, fake the confidence, but there is some there that she’s masking. But then at other times, it really does serve her, and other times, it doesn’t. I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if that really answers your question, but I can see where it can go both ways. And, Mallory, what do you think?
Mallory Band: Yeah, I love what you said. And I think that really goes way beyond the ADHD community, but just people in general. Like if you were to say, ask anybody without a diagnosis, are you always confident? Are you always telling the truth in social situations or centers to exaggerate things? Do you just say things, do the chameleon effect to just fit in with whoever you’re with so you don’t create conflicts? Yeah, I think, absolutely, everyone does that. And I think sometimes, sure, it definitely is easier. Just because I think we’re already going through a lot of hoops to have to explain ourselves that this is why are you going to this room to take the test and not with us in the classroom, or why are you sitting on this type of chair. And I think, absolutely. And I think, too, is just that that’s human nature of people mask all the time, whether you have a diagnosis or not. And I think that, certainly, it can serve you. But I think there’s a fine line to draw where we want to also stay with our authentic selves as much as possible. But I’m not the same in every single environment in my life. I’m different, but I am still Mallory, I’m still me. But it might be a different shade or hue, depending on who I’m with, who I’m comfortable with, what we’re doing.
Pete Wright: Of course, that …
Mallory Band: Yeah. The authenticity, I think, really hits hard.
Pete Wright: Yeah, absolutely. And of course, it’s a little bit of a leading question because it takes us right back to a conversation we had a couple of weeks ago with Casey Dixon around burnout. And I think it’s important at least to acknowledge that there might be utility and protection to masking. And there also might be a path directly back to that low motivation and exhaustion that you talked specifically about one of your follow up articles in Attitude link in the show notes. I was insecure about what people thought about me and my work ethic, so I felt like I had to say yes to everyone and everything. That only lead to burnout, low motivation, and exhaustion. I think that’s a really an important leading factor and leading indicator that something has come off the tracks that you’re feeling this intensely and this intensity inside that you can’t function at a level that you’re accustomed to. Am I saying that right?
Mallory Band: Absolutely. And I think that that’s why it’s so important to always keep track internally of the progress you’ve made as an individual. Because I think we know it’s not going to be linear, it’s not going to be, oh, I did X, Y, and Z on Monday, X, Y, and Z on … No. Some days, you’re going to feel like, I didn’t do anything productive. You could go fishing and find something in there to grab out and say, yes, I did this. But I think, really, just understanding that you have to have different expectations for yourself every single day on the daily, your success is going to look different, and that’s okay. That’s been really helpful for me in terms of slowing down. I’m not physically hyperactive. But mentally, ooh, I’ve got you. I feel like I let anyone beat. I’m like on a wheel moving at a million miles per hour. And it’s exhausting. And I think part of the reason why I’ve been so intensely trying to work on getting imposter syndrome kicking it to the curb and working on acknowledging that feedback is hard, that it’s uncomfortable. Because it’s too exhausting to continue to live like this. And I’ve really explicitly been trying to set more boundaries. And I think, yes, it’s uncomfortable for me. But I think for other people, it’s uncomfortable for them. And someone even said to me recently, "You’ve been acting really weird lately." And that really felt, ugh, that did not feel good. But what it was is, you’re not doing what I want. I didn’t acknowledge that you were actually setting a boundary for yourself to protect your mental health and yourself. But it’s okay if you make people feel whatever you’re doing. I know I’m not being rude. I’m allowed to say, no, I can’t do that at this moment. I’ve got too much stuff going on in life. And that is so uncomfortable for me. Because like I’ve said, I am a … Well, I’m trying to be a recovering people pleaser. And I have to … It’s not selfish to put yourself first. If you can’t take care of yourself, then you’re certainly not going to be able to take care of others. And in being in a line of work where that’s all you do advocating for every single person and family that you’re working with, then you’re not going to be able to do the best job, and that’s not fair to provide these services if you’re not doing 100% of what you say you’re going to do. And that’s certainly not something I feel comfortable with coming up short for people. I think it’s super uncomfortable to set boundaries, but I think that’s where the consistency compounds. Eventually, the person is going to understand. Okay, well, that’s not weird. It’s just that she’s creating. And if they don’t understand, that’s okay, too. I’m not …
Nikki Kinzer: You don’t want to do the word for them anyway.
Mallory Band: Yeah.
Pete Wright: Yeah, right. That’s a really great point. And we talk all the time about how it’s important to take ownership of your feelings and be aware of your feelings. But you said something that really triggered me positively, that if I’m going to be owning my feelings, they have to own theirs, too. I’m not making them feel any way, one way or the other. I’m just living in a way that is keeping myself authentic and healthy and protected. And if they feel bad, they get to own that. If I’m not acting maliciously or vindictively, they get to own how they feel. They can’t settle me with that. I don’t own that.
Mallory Band: And I think like part of the imposter syndrome, and this is something even like I’ve been trying to figure out in therapy, too, is that my therapist, literally, had said like, "You are not in control of trying to fix everybody and everything." I think owning that I am not in control of other people’s feelings and how other people’s actions, that has really taken a weight off of my back. Yes, I still do feel nervous that someone will feel or react in a certain way that might make me feel guilty or make me feel something with a negative connotation. But really, trying to put that into practice of the only person I’m in control of is myself, and letting relinquishing control. I cannot control other adults. That’s that.
Pete Wright: Yeah. That was one of the earliest lessons of my therapy career. I think I was 15, and my therapist looked at me and said, "Hey, man, your power ends with your skin. If you can’t touch it, you can’t control it. Don’t try to control someone else’s thoughts. Don’t try to control someone else’s moods or behaviors. Work on yourself." And that’s been a mantra for me, too.
Mallory Band: Absolutely.
Nikki Kinzer: Good stuff. Thank you so much.
Pete Wright: Thank you so much. Yeah, Mallory, this is fantastic. We so appreciate. Appreciate your contributions to attitude. These are great resources living on the website. But I know you have some other stuff to talk about, what else are you up to? You’re working on a book, you’ve got so much going on.
Mallory Band: Yeah. I’m working on a book. It just started off with doing a brain dump and it turned into somewhat of a book. And now I’m doing the backwards process of, okay, now I have something written. So don’t need to necessarily have a publisher or have decided if I’m going to go with a publisher or self-publishing, but I’m really excited about it. Because I think that the primary audience is, really, instead of parents, it’s actually for teens and young adults themselves. It can absolutely serve parents who have children with ADHD or anxiety. But essentially, it’s a compilation of stories about my life and how I’ve dealt with anxiety and ADHD. And it’s funny, it’s sad, it’s jarring. And I think, really, ultimately, I just want to provide people with an understanding that you’re not alone, you’re never alone. And we don’t know each other, like whoever’s reading this book. But I hope that I can provide some semblance of community and connection because I think that’s powerful. And that can go a long way. And that’s something I was wishing … Missing when I was younger, just wanting to know other people or having these struggles and they are still successful. You will be successful no matter what, even if you have some of these challenges. There are workarounds. They don’t go away, but we learn how to cope with them. Hopefully, 2023, they’ll see my name out there and …
Nikki Kinzer: Well, and we’re going to have you back and celebrate that.
Pete Wright: Yeah, for sure.
Nikki Kinzer: And what a great message, especially for that age group because they need to hear it, they need to be connected and know that there are people that are like them and have succeeded and have done really well and that they have so much opportunity because they’re getting some negative messages and being able to turn that around, is a great thing that you’re doing.
Pete Wright: Mallory, thank you so, so much for joining us, for being with us on the show this week. And it’s just great to meet you and glad to have you in our community as well. Glad to be in your orbit.
Mallory Band: Thank you so much for having me. It was a great conversation.
Pete Wright: And thank you everyone else for downloading and listening to this show. Thank you for your time and your attention. Don’t forget, if you have something to contribute to the conversation, we’re heading over to the Show talk channel in our Discord server and you can join us right there by becoming a supporting member at the deluxe level or better, on behalf of Mallory Band and Nikki Kinzer. I am, still, Pete Wright. And I’ll see you right back here next week on Taking Control: The ADHD Podcast.