Sometimes I feel like a bandwagon creative, a fake, a phony, a fraud, and a wannabe.
It’s hard to not feel that way. All the creatives I know have wanted to a create as far back as they can remember and I’m just now getting the courage to chase a creative career. It doesn’t matter how much praise or high fives I receive whenever I’m about to hit the submit button or e-mail someone for a collaboration. I always feel like I’m about to be caught. Everyone will know that I’m a fraud.
This plagues me in both my nine to five and my creative entrepreneur lives. There are days when I literally have to chant to myself, “You belong here” before I walk into a meeting. Other days, I just ignore those feelings and push on. If I’m experiencing this, I know you are, too.
But we are not alone.
The late Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve written eleven books but each time, I think ‘Uh-oh. They’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.’” Angelou, who was a renowned as a novelist, poet, and memoirist.
Meryl Streep described it this way, “You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?’”
Emma Watson added, “It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going, Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud, and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved.”
Having the nagging fear of being“found out,” as not being as smart or talented or deserving or experienced or creative as people think, is a common phenomenon. Psychologists Dr. Suzanne Imes and Dr. Pauline Rose Clance coined the term “Impostor Syndrome” to describe it back in the 1980’s. Researchers believe that up to 70% of people have suffered from it at some point.
Feeling as if you’re not enough isn’t the problem. All the people above had moments of feeling inadequate but they did not allow it to derail their ambitions and continued to accomplish their goals. Here are 5 ways to get over feeling like a fraud:
1. Give Yourself Credit
It’s very much in my nature not to take credit for accomplishments. I always credit my team or an outside force. I prefer not to internalize it. Sometimes it helps to just, for a quick moment, focus on the goals you’ve reached or the things you’ve overcome. It will give you the fuel you need to keep pushing.
2. Believe in Yourself
Believing in yourself won’t come from an outside source. We are all fighting that feeling of inadequacy, and the last thing anyone can afford to do is build someone else up and their expense. Of course, there are people who love us, support us, and cheer us on, but in our silent moments we have to propel ourselves.
3. Commit to getting better
Nothing has helped get over feeling like a fraud more than getting better. Improving my skills and a committing to my education has been invaluable. The only way to start chipping away at feeling like you don’t know enough is to learn more and more. Education is the an empowering weapon, offering you the opportunity to learn and constantly improve your chosen craft.
4. Stop comparison
Nothing good ever comes from comparison. Admire. Be inspired. But, don’t compare. Feelings of inadequacy only grow deeper and with more of a vengeance when we compare. We’re in this together, which brings us to the last and most important tip:
5. You are not alone
My manager once said, “Nobody knows what the hell they are doing.” And there it is. We’re all the same boat trying to get to our goals. Feeling like an imposter is a part of the journey and keep moving forward.