Am I a fraud?
There I was , on a date with a guy I liked, and I was completely tongue-tied. I couldn’t think of anything to say, and my answers to his questions were short and mumbled. He took me home, and I never heard from him again.
This experience was painful—but it also wasn’t unique. As a teen and young adult, I occasionally struggled with low self-esteem, which I considered to be a family trait. I’d seen relatives suffer from the same inability to express themselves and the shame that came with it. And it left me feeling unworthy, like sooner or later I would be discovered as a fraud. I was afraid others would find out that maybe I really didn’t have anything to say!
I developed some helpful defense mechanisms, like coming late to events and leaving early so I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. That may have prevented awkward conversations, but it didn’t solve the problem. I didn’t look very hard for any other solution, though, because I thought low self-esteem was just something I had to live with.
I was afraid others would find out that maybe I really didn’t have anything to say.
I had grown up attending Christian Science Sunday School, where I learned how to pray for myself, but mostly I’d prayed just when I wasn’t feeling well. Now I wanted to apply what I knew about God to other kinds of things in my life. I began by getting to know God better.
At first, I didn’t make any connection between learning about God and finding my way out of these feelings of inferiority. But one day, I had a turning point. My boss called me into his office for a conversation. Immediately I froze, thinking, “He’s found out.” Then, a response to that thought came to me: “Found out what?”
It sounds like such a simple question, but there was a feeling of healing power behind it, so I knew it was from God. In that moment, I realized how absurd my fear was, and it disappeared. I was able to calmly and confidently attend the meeting, which turned out to be just a routine review of a project we were working on.
After hearing that question, “Found out what?” I was determined to pray more deeply about this feeling of being a fraud. The first thing that came to me was to recognize that my actual identity was purely God-derived, and therefore harmonious in every way. It wasn’t something I’d inherited from a long line of people. My basis for this was a statement I loved from Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy: “In Science man is the offspring of Spirit. The beautiful, good, and pure constitute his ancestry” (p. 63). When I applied this idea to myself, I began to unwind the thoughts that suggested that I was bound to feeling inferior, like it was a law.
A deeper understanding of my relationship to God had silenced my fears and allowed me to feel God’s love.
Yes, this concept of who I was had seemed convincing for a long time, but through my prayers, I was coming to see that it was a mistaken view. It was nothing more than a suggestion and didn’t need to be my reality. Instead, it became clear that I am the daughter of God, my Father-Mother, and that this is the foundation of my identity.
It seemed like I was coming out of a dark tunnel into a bright light, and an incredible peace and warmth came over me. I felt God’s presence. I saw this as confirmation of my legitimacy as an individual, not a fraud, and as never having inherited low self-esteem.
Although I didn’t instantly become more chatty, I did begin to feel more comfortable in conversations. A deeper understanding of my permanent relationship to God had silenced my fears and allowed me to feel God’s love. This also helped me to pay less attention to myself and more to those around me, and to make an effort to be compassionate when someone else was struggling.
Now, many years later, these lessons have stayed with me—and continue to expand! It has become natural for me to recognize that we are all children of divine Spirit, expressing our genuine identity as God’s reflection and relating to one another comfortably and freely.