July 4, 2023

On Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome—it's plagued many of us.

We think: Who am I to say anything about this subject? Who would want to listen to me? I'm no expert. I just have my personal experience and my insights.

But that's it. We all have a unique perspective, molded from the summation of our experiences. The books we read, the movies we watch, the music and podcasts we listen to, the people we talk to, the events we attend, the places we go to, the food we try, and so many others.

That's what we can share to the world. Our insights.

But it can be difficult to get over self-doubt. The fear of being "exposed." I still struggle with it. And it's one of the things that I'm working on.

Here are 5 things I try to keep in mind:

1. You don't need to be perfect.

You don't need to be the best to have something valuable to share. You just have to be two steps ahead of other people, and then you can help them move forward too. So be generous about what you've learned along the way. You might not know it, but they appreciate your guidance.

2. Everyone's a work-in-progress.

Those people who are so confident, who carry themselves well—they're not perfect either. They're also still on the path of self-actualization. They're just steps ahead of you. So let go of the pressure you put on yourself. We're all humans trying to be better, just on different paths and different timelines.

3. There will always be criticism.

People will always have something to say, no matter what you do. Even if you choose not to do anything. So just give it a shot. And remember: you don't have to please everyone.

Let go of that fear of judgment. Of the fear of embarrassment. Let go and let yourself free.

4. You'll get better.

When you start doing that thing you fear, that's when you can get better. You'll see what works and what doesn't. You'll get over the initial awkwardness and the confidence you gain will shine through.

And the more you teach what you know, the clearer it becomes. The more of an expert you become. You'll see where you lack, and work on it.

5. You are not your work.

Impostor syndrome sometimes stems from fear of rejection. You want your work to be liked and loved. You want yourself to be liked and loved.

But there's a line there. Love your work, give it everything you have, but don't let it become a defining part of you. Your value doesn't hinge on how your work is received.