Confession: I have a seriously bad case of ongoing imposter syndrome. Every single time I book a gig or have a pitch accepted or even receive the most minor bit of admiration I think, Oh god. I don’t deserve this at all. I’m going to definitely fail repeatedly. There is no way I am capable of doing anything. When will they find out that I’m a fraud and they are giving money to a total, complete joke of a human who can barely do laundry never mind create a MASTERPIECE? Sometimes I experience this spiraling, negative internal struggle every single day. Or sometimes I experience it multiple times a day. Or sometimes hourly (or minutely). My mind is a cesspool of self-doubt, self-judgement and self-bullying. No matter how long of a confidence streak I’m on, that mean asshole of insecurity will creep it’s way back into my consciousness.
So, because I have this awful recurring feeling that I am not a real artist, but a masterful con artist who should have been fired from every job she has ever had, I have developed a system. A system to cope with my want to call me a fake, a phony, a charlatan, a poser, a swindler, a mountebank (not sure what the last one means but I found it on thesaurus.com so it has to be a word, unless that website is as deceiving as ME. Kidding! I’m not kidding). But for real now, this system works rather well at decreasing my syndrome. Basically, each time I sense myself slipping into the realm of career uncertainty I follow the below self-made instructions. You should check them out if you struggle like I do at acknowledging your own amazingness and loving you.
As the majestic RuPaul would say If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else? Agreed, Ru. Sashay Away. Forever.
Write down all of your accomplishments and really look at ˜em
Include everything. That task you nailed at work. That witty tweet you scribed. That huge award you won. That promotion you received. That commercial you booked. That honorable mention you got in that tiny publication. I repeat. INCLUDE EVERYTHING. Then take a good hard look. Honestly, it’s ridiculous how often you forget all that you’ve done. Looking at your many successful exploits will make you feel strong and ready for battle. Like Julius Caesar, minus all of the horrible shit he did. Actually, replace Julius Caesar with RuPaul. Much better.
Start working on something you’ve always wanted to do
You know what squashes doubt better than anything else? Productivity. I often find that I’m the most down on myself when I’m being lazy or procrastinating or taking four naps a day. I know personally that I procrastinate because I’m a perfectionist and have a deep seeded fear of failure and rejection (my therapist loves me) so when I actually do something, even the tiniest something, the whole assignment feels less massive and more within my solid, smart grasp.
If you’re a gal, remind yourself that this feeling is a result of how you’ve been socialized
Men have it easy(er), am I right ladies?! (I tend to make everything about gender when I discuss any subject but confidence is something lacking in the socialization of young girls.) We’re told by others that we’re flawed, that we should keep quiet, that we shouldn’t compete with the cocky dude in our math class for top grade. Thus, when we achieve greatness, we assume it’s a fluke or a mistake or they’ve mixed us up with someone else (the dude in math class). My female friends question themselves way more than my male ones do. Go easy on yourself. Sexism exists and the male ego is a continent and childhood ingrained behaviours take time to change. Whenever you want to say I can’t, be like cocky math dude instead. Channel his arrogance!
Think about how you’d feel if you weren’t pursuing your goals
This one is shockingly effective. Make a cup of joe, sit back on a windowsill (preferably a bay window sill) and construct an alternate reality. A reality where you travel the safe root. Where you didn’t take that job. Where you didn’t go to that audition. Where you didn’t show up for that show. Then feel your chest tighten and your joe burn. Pretty stinging sensation, no? Aren’t you glad you did what you actually did instead of letting cocky math dude have all the damn fun?
Say this over and over again to yourself I am my own harshest critic
You are. This is a fact. Not a saying. You observe the movie of your life and give it the worst review you’ve ever heard. Five thumbs down. Yes. Your inner monster critic has five thumbs. It’s a freakish, terrifyingly mighty creature that appears frequently at night when you’re alone. Time to break its thumbs and slap its scaly skin across the face. It’s a fucking liar. That is also a fact.
Make a deal with a close friend to boost each other up whenever you need it
My pal Aisha and I are each other’s insecurity correctors. This is how our duo operates. When one of us is feeling down or unsure or despising our every waking breath, we call the other one. We say God. I feel like I’m the unfunniest idiot alive. All of my jokes suck. My writing is garbage. Why do I bother getting out of bed when I am never not mediocre? Then the person listening replies You’re delusional. You are not mediocre. You’re incredible. You’re exceptional. I adore everything you create. You work so hard and you inspire me. Then we both say I love you, cry a bit, trash the pieces of shit we used to have sex with and hang up, feeling great. Try it.
Blast inspiring music from your fave artist and dance like crazy
Sometimes you gotta get out of your head by getting into your HOT BOD, BABY. The louder the tunes the better. Also, the more in your underpants, you are the better. Exercise is a miracle worker. It legit improves your mood. When I’m depressed I distrust myself tenfold. Getting the adrenaline pumping WILL result in a happy brain chemical trigger and some sweet tenacity.
Every time someone gives you a compliment, believe them and take note of it
Some might perceive this tip as extremely conceited. But hey, if you got imposter syndrome, you need to start dipping into the jacuzzi of conceit. That includes accepting nice things being said about you. This is a huge challenge for me. I lean on the side of modesty, which typically means when I hear You were so funny! I respond Oh. It was an easy audience, instantly discrediting my skills (since I don’t think I have any). So, I’ve started instead responding with Thank you! It was lots of fun, and then jotting it down in my memory book or a literal book. Seriously. Record that gold with a permanent marker. Refer to it whenever you wonder if everyone thinks you suck. They really don’t! Look at all of these people who said nice things. You’re killing it. Plus, how about that time your biggest fan said you made them feel fucking amazing? You’re not just killing it, friend. You’re a goddamn hero! You’re saving lives! YOU ARE SO NECESSARY.
Watch the most feel good, motivational speech given by a celebrity you can find
One of my most cherished hobbies is going on YouTube and searching awesome speech by a famous person at college graduation and then taking in all of the fluffy good feels and deep thoughtful wisdom and cheesy generic idioms. Rich people’s voices/words/existences I like listening to include but are not limited to Ellen Degeneres, Jim Carrey, J.K Rowling, Will Smith and Denzel Washington. But, please don’t obey my list. Get on the interwebs, do some major googling and make your own.
Remember that no one knows what’s going on ever always
Literally every single person you’ve ever met has questioned themselves. Wait. If you’ve met a Republican Presidential Candidate, this might not be true. Everyone MINUS them. All of your friends. Your colleagues. Those handsome folks with excellent postures sitting in that pristine boardroom wearing expensive suits who appear to not have sweat glands or souls? Yeah, they think they’re trash. Just like you! Isn’t that cute? You’re the same! But, for real, they have looked in the mirror and said Ah. Fuck you, loser. You’re going on probation tomorrow. What I’m saying is, you’re not alone. Homo sapiens are similar, in that our big brains are all jerks sometimes and we panic doing anything new and we feel insecure and we assume we’re the only ones experiencing this ˜cause we’re also narcissists. Talk to anyone anytime and you’ll discover that is not a fact. They’re as scared as you are, so boost each other up already. K?