Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
In what seems like another lifetime, I was the Director of Marketing for a juvenile products distribution company. I knew my stuff.
I organized trade shows, wrote press releases, strategy documents and communications plans, and planned product launches. The amount of hours that I spent brainstorming ideas for content, advertisements, brochures, and product development is pretty insane.
Then I decided to quit and stay home with my kids. I didn’t “truly” leave the field as I continued to freelance and started to really focus on my parenting blog.
But something started happening. I was doubting myself.
Self-doubt is normal. Everyone has it. You may get anxious before a big presentation or you may wonder if you’re good enough before you submit a proposal, a draft, an audition. All totally normal.
But this was so much more.
As a blogger, I started going to conferences – to stay up on trends, learn new skills etc. I quickly realized that I already knew about half of what the sessions were about and probably could have presented the topic myself. I had a few friends suggest that I apply to speak at something.
But every time I opened the application, I froze, completely paralyzed.
Who the hell am I to tell anyone how to do anything?
A friend once told me that someone would always know more than me, but many people will know less. Yes, there are likely plenty of people who could benefit from my knowledge and experience.
But I was looking through foggy glasses. I couldn’t see it. There was absolutely no way I was good enough to be a speaker. The critical commentary in my mind was overwhelming, almost suffocating me into submission. Why even try?
Fast forward to today. I have a full-time job, and I’m still writing. But the Imposter Syndrome remains. It lurks in the shadows, and every time I REALLY want something, it stops me from going full throttle. It’s a jerk like that.
Even with the creation of this site, I’m overcome with thoughts of failure when I’ve barely even taken my foot off the gas.
This past weekend at a conference in Pasadena, I got two amazing tips from some pretty brilliant women.
Karen Walrond advised the room that every time we hear that critical voice in our head telling us we can’t do something – to remind ourselves that “there is evidence to suggest otherwise.”
I have almost two decades of marketing experience; clearly there is something there to validate my expertise. So when I say I don’t know enough or I’m not good enough, there may be evidence to suggest otherwise.
Then Jenny Lawson told us that she literally writes on her arm “JUST PRETEND YOU’RE GOOD AT IT.”
Boom. There it is. Just pretend you’re good at it.
I can totally do both of those things. I need to do both of those things.
In fact, whenever I know I need to do something that I absolutely hate doing (insert cold-calling here), I always give myself a pep talk and tell myself to fake it until I make it. It’s the same philosophy.
I don’t know if there’s a “cure” for Imposter Syndrome. A glance around the room I sat in, and a quick Google search tells me I’m not alone – many, many peoplesuffer from it too (even some of the most famous names you can think of). During those periods where it gets really bad, I need to remember to show myself some grace. Then push through it.
I need to push through it. I can’t let it win.
Now I finally have some tactics on how to do so.
So here’s my public declaration. There are things I want to do, to accomplish and my Imposter Syndrome stands in the way.
I am standing in my own way.
It’s time for me to move.
As Brené Brown told us at her keynote speech “Get out of the cheap seats and into the arena”.
Here I come.