I’m a fraud and everyone in the room is about to find out! You know the feeling, you look around the room and feel that everyone else deserves to be there, that they belong there. Everyone but you. You feel like the imposter. With a heart racing you worry that at any moment they are going to work out that you are not good enough, that you don’t know enough, or that you don’t belong there and you’ve just snuck into the room unannounced.
Recently I attended a Writing Masterclass which I signed up on the spot on a whim from an event that popped up on my Facebook because I thought that reigniting my childhood passion for writing was a good idea at the time. What have I done?!? In the lead up to the day I felt like I was going to be the only one who didn’t know much about writing and that everyone was going to think that I didn’t belong there. The reality was that many people in that masterclass were feeling the same way. Phew, what a relief!
It’s a very common feeling for a lot of people and is often an indication that you are about to step out of your comfort zone. When we get to the edge of our comfort zone we are confronted with self-doubt thoughts or the imposter syndrome, and it is an indication that what we are about to do is inherently important to us and that we are in fact about to grow.
Feeling like a fraud didn’t stop me from going along and upon reflection I discovered some important ways to combat the imposter syndrome:
- Stop comparing yourself to others. Not only is comparing ourselves to someone else unhelpful but it’s also impossible; it’s like comparing apples and oranges as everyone is unique, with different personality traits, skills, life experiences that shape who they are just like they shape who you are. Also, don’t pretend to be someone you are not. Holding up inauthentic masks can be just as exhausting.
- Come clean. When introducing myself to the group I stated that I had an interest in writing but I had no idea what I was doing and felt like I didn’t belong at the masterclass. By saying this out loud to the group gave others permission to acknowledge and admit their own feelings of inadequacy which in turn opened up space within the group to connect more deeply, and authentically. Know that you aren’t alone.
- Have Courage & Take a Risk. What would you do it you weren’t afraid? Do that! Feel the fear and do it anyway. If you get something wrong, so what! Being wrong or making mistakes doesn’t make you a fraud. In fact, making mistakes is how we grow and learn.
- Change your thought processing. Rather than doubting yourself because “I don’t know everything” change your thinking to “I’m here to learn and grow”. This allows us to move from a fixed mindest to a growth mindset.
- Look at why and own it. Why are you here? Why did you want this or want to do this? Our ‘why’ is a positive and strong motivator that keeps us focussed on our path. When we can strongly hold onto the ‘why’ it outweighs everything else, including our thoughts of being a fraud. We are more likely to continue in spite of those thoughts. At the end of the day, everyone is trying to follow their paths to be the best person they can so you deserve to be there as much as them.
You see, when you hold yourself back you due to feeling like an imposter, you are robbing the world of your amazing gifts.
Wouldn’t that be a terrible shame? I think so.