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Impostor Syndrome

I’ve had more and more talks and workshops to deliver lately. New clients, returning clients. All people who give me amazing feedback and encouraging words. You’d think I’d be on cloud nine, right?

Wrong. While I’m grateful and super excited, it also comes with a level of anxiety. It brings up impostor syndrome. I start telling myself it was a fluke they booked me, I’ll mess it up and they won’t enjoy it or learn from it, I’ll be told I wasn’t worth the money. I tell myself anyone could do this so why would they choose me?

Impostor syndrome is an internalized fear of being exposed as being a fraud. Part of it is that I know I can improve, I know I can be better and I can continue growing and I always think “I’m not there yet. I’m not good enough.” Whereas the right way to think about it is that I’ll get better the more I do. I am good enough to provide these services right now AND there is room for growth and improvement. Not BUT.

Hemingway said of writing: “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” Mastery isn’t the goal. There is ALWAYS room to get better. The goal is that journey of learning and growth.

As I mentioned, I most often get positive feedback and encouragement when I give talks, deliver workshops, etc. But I discount this for the negative in my head.

Before my TEDx talk, every step of the process I felt like I was going to be shut down. My application was accepted. That’s step 1. I then had to be selected from the short list. I convinced myself I wouldn’t get it. But I did. Next I had to submit a practice video of my talk. I kept thinking once they saw the video they would rescind the invitation, they would tell me I wasn’t good enough. I was so nervous sending it. But they liked it and I kept moving forward. I practiced for months, bringing on bouts of tears and frustration. I felt that it would never be good enough. Before stepping on that stage, I was calmly freaking out, if that makes sense. I felt like I would be laughed off the stage.

In the end I received great feedback and I can see the areas I need to improve. It was a great learning experience and a great experience in general.

Impostor syndrome is brutal. It permeates my confidence in everything I do: leaving messages to potential clients, setting prices, standing my ground in negotiations. It’s not easy.

Part of the solution is looking at factual evidence for both sides of the equation. In this case, I know what I have to get better at but the evidence is all the positive feedback I’ve received. It’s about moving from my emotional mind to my logical mind.

Impostor syndrome is part of a lack of confidence and self-esteem, it’s about self-doubt. That can exist because of previous trauma, emotional abuse, a lack of support and encouragement as a child. Some people naturally have less confidence than others. There are a number of reasons.

Regardless of how it came about, it’s not help. I constantly have to remind myself, and be reminded by those who love me, that I’m good enough. That I’m working hard. That I’ll get better. But right here, right now, who I am is enough. It can be so hard to internalize that belief but it’s about fighting the doubts every day. A lot of positive self-talk.

Impostor syndrome is common and it can be really hard to fight. Like anything else in mental health we have to stay accountable to doing the work to combat these things and mitigate those thoughts and behaviours.

I will never grow this business if I don’t believe in myself. I am good enough. In fact, I’m pretty awesome. I know that logically. Now I have to understand and accept it emotionally.

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