Some people say fear is the enemy…
That it’s something to avoid, something to eliminate, and that if we are fearful, we are weak.
Fear is the only thing in existence that can give us courage.
If we can’t learn to sit with it, experience it, feel it, and let it flow through us, we may never do anything significant with our lives.
I believe that being yourself is courageous.
Making the effort to discover who you are, what you love, what you want. THAT takes extreme courage.
Creativity takes courage. Loving someone takes courage. Starting a business, planning a move, quitting your job, pursuing your dreams. These all take courage.
But first, fear must exist. And to move past it to get what we want, we must accept that it’s there and learn how to manage it.
I think that this should be taught in school. It should be common knowledge, talked about openly, everywhere. Most of us go our whole lives too afraid to take a chance on something, thinking that the fear is protecting us, when really, it’s not at all. It’s holding us back.
I hadn’t heard of Impostor Syndrome until I began listening to personal development podcasts about a year ago. As with many people I’m sure, learning about it for the first time was a major aha moment for me!
Impostor Syndrome is “a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary”.
What’s interesting is that most people will feel this type of insecurity at one point or another in their lifetime, but it more commonly happens to successful individuals, or those who put themselves in vulnerable situations. Like business owners, creatives, actors, athletes, etc.
Many celebrities have talked about their experiences with Impostor Syndrome. Kate Winslet, Oprah Winfrey, Natalie Portman, Cheryl Strayed. Meryl Streep, Lady Gaga, Tom Hanks, Serena Williams, Samantha Bee.
Clearly, it doesn’t matter how successful you are, it can happen to anyone.
Some people don’t know why this insecurity appears when it does, and others recognize specific triggers.
My Impostor Syndrome shows up most often when I see another business person put something into the world that wasn’t well researched or executed. For example, videos with bad lighting or messy backgrounds, blog posts that don’t make any sense or that contain many errors, marketing photos that were not properly edited. I just don’t understand how an aspiring business person could promote themselves/their business in such a way, oblivious to the lack of quality content.
But I then realize that what looks like poorly executed work to me may not appear that way to someone else. It’s wholly my individual opinion. It’s MY FEAR showing up where it wants; where it knows it’ll catch me off-guard, instantly making me feel like a fraud with my own work. “I’m not good enough”, “who am I to put this into the world?”, “I look like an idiot!”.
The sneaky little betch.
So how do we manage Impostor Syndrome? How do we push past it? Especially when it shows up whenever and however it wants?
First we need to recognize it and call it out the moment it arrives. We need to understand what it is, why it’s there, and use it to our advantage. I personally use it as fuel, to educate myself, research, learn, and observe. I use it to become better, to improve my skills, and sometimes, when appropriate, to help others. I may not be the very best in my field at this moment, but I’m working on it… and in the meantime, I am putting my current “best” work out there, even though I know it won’t be considered my best later on. And that’s okay. Because if I don’t do it now, when? When will I believe I’ve reached my maximum potential?
Really, fear is just a tool. While sometimes it shows up to keep us safe (like when it tells us to choose the well-lit street rather than the dark alley on our way home from the bar), many times it shows up to challenge us and help us grow (like when we agree to speak on stage in front of thousands of people for the first time).
It all depends on how you view it, and if you allow it to control you or catapult you.