You don’t know what you’re doing. Everyone thinks you’re something you’re not. One day soon you’ll be found out to be lacking the skills, experience and intelligence that people believe you have.
As a blogger you have most probably experienced impostor syndrome at some point along the way. If you’re like me then it remains an ever present voice.
It’s a completely natural, especially for those of us who create online content. We build a perception of other people (their entitlement to the space through their natural abilities), and compare them with our own more chaotic and messy situation (I’m making it up as I go).
Perhaps you look at what others are doing and feel like they’ve got it sussed, and that you’re just pretending to look like you know what you’re doing.
Well what if you knew that every single blogger has felt like that? What if you were to discover that even the most successful ones still experience it?
Impostor syndrome wants us to believe that we’re second rate.
It wants us to shun good opportunities because we feel undeserving.
It wants us to distract ourselves by stressing and over-preparing for small things.
It wants us to settle for comfortable; what’s easy rather than what’s worth it.
It’s the part of us that wants to make us feel isolated and separated so that we become afraid of doing anything remarkable that might change the status quo.
And it is amplified ten-fold in the online world. I want you to realise that if you feel this way then there’s no need to panic. You’re not alone. It’s normal and natural.
For those of us in the weird and wonderful world of virtual community; connecting from behind a computer screen, impostor syndrome is something for which we must be on the lookout. It’s the same for almost everyone doing creative work.
As Steve Furtick said, we need to “stop comparing our backstage with other peoples’ highlight reel’.
The next time you feel that nagging pull of impostor syndrome doing all it can to bring you to self-sabotage, remember:
– You Don’t Have to Pretend
My favourite blogs are journeys from amateur to expert. They are relatable and honest.
On the other hand the bloggers that inspire me to quickly bounce off their site are usually written with faux-authority and a pretence of expertise. It’s obvious when someone is pretending. Real impostors are not difficult to spot, especially online.
No one needs to fake it till they make it when it comes to creating content. Every blogger I know who have developed huge followings have done so by being honest about what they don’t know and what they’re afraid of. Your potential audience wants to come on a journey of discovery with you. They learn as you learn.
– Perception is Not Reality
We all encounter familiar strangers in life; people we see all the time but never talk to.
If you’re like me then you create a story, a personality, maybe even ascribing a name. There is no way for this to be true. It’s all in our head, a way to make sense of the world, but that doesn’t stop you from believing in it on some level.
The same is true for our online encounters. We fill in the gaps, creating perceptions and stories about those people we see online and usually do so in a way that makes them different to us.
Unless you know these stories to be true then assume them to be false. Reach out to those familiar strangers online. Allow them to become human and relatable. The more we encounter one another the more vulnerability is given space to flow, and through vulnerability we find validation and encouragement.
– Criticism is Not Truth
When experiencing impostor syndrome you may be more sensitive to the impact of criticism. If you’re like me then self-sabotage occurs when you believe everyone is more expert and experienced than you.
Criticism doesn’t get run through the appropriate filter, i.e. is that helpful to my overall aim or is it just a subjective preference on the part of the critic?
It can completely derail us. When someone suggests that they would prefer it if you did something in a different way the default thought from impostor syndrome is, ‘OMG they’re right, I’ve been stupid, I need to change everything right now!’
This can lead to a chronic lack of focus as you become like a leaf being blown about in the wind.
Use criticism if it’s helpful but always sit on it before acting. Give yourself permission to listen without any obligation to act. If there are channels of unhelpful/destructive criticism shut them down or simply disengage from them. Only allow what helps.
– You’ve Come A Long Way Already
As humans we are experts at adapting to circumstances. It’s how we’ve evolved to live almost anywhere in the world. But this can also have an unfortunate impact on our relationship with ourselves.
It’s easy to forget how far we’ve already come. We brush things off as easy once we get used to them. One we know things we forget that before we knew them we didn’t know them; our default mindset is that everyone else must already know and that we are late to the party.
Remember that you’ve already come so far.
I am a big advocate of journalling for the sole reason of being able to look back and realise how little I knew last month, this time last year, or even five years back. It’s too easy to forget and to normalise your expertise and experience.
If you worry that you’re an impostor then you’re not one. The world needs you to speak to it, to share your story and blog your experiences, especially your anxieties and struggles along the way.
In The War of Art Steven Pressfield wrote: “The counterfeit innovator is wildly self-confident. The real one is scared to death.”
This sums up perfectly the struggle of those of us in creative industries and those of us building platforms in the online sphere.
If you’re scared to death as you share your ideas with the world then you can be sure you’re on the right track. A true impostor has very few doubts about himself.
Andy Mort is the author of sheepdressedlikewolves.com. Visit the site to get more content from him.
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