Do you remember when you were in fourth grade and you looked across the playground and saw the sixth graders? They looked so much older. So much bigger. Their lives seemed so much different than yours. Then time passed and eventually you took the place of those sixth graders on the playground. But did you actually feel that much older and bigger and different? Of course not. You didn’t feel anything like what you imagined those confident, older kids would have felt like. You were still you—insecure, scared, wondering what to do next.
It’s important to realize this phenomenon is not a quirk of your personality. It is a nearly universal human experience. We all have a little bit of that imposter syndrome, no matter what we look like or how old or young we are. Your own kids are no exception. Even though they are growing like crazy, even though they might pretend to be so mature and so beyond where they were even a few months ago, the truth is that inside they are full of doubts and concerns. They are looking around wondering when the hell they are going to feel as put together and as “adult” as they imagine everyone else does.
Your five-year-old feels that way. Your 15-year-old feels that way. Your 25-year-old feels that way. Just as you did. Just as you will continue to at 45 and 50 and 75.
So be there for them. See through the posturing. Reassure them. Love them accordingly.