When it comes to sitting down, and actually tackling the many parts of me that have a craving to let go and be free with my writing, or illustrate, or create something completely unique, I find it rather challenging.
Whilst we are taking on this world where COVID-19 has decided to strip away the normal day-to-day living that we are very much used to, there is also another emerging issue that I find has made it more challenging. That is Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome, by definition, is the experience of believing that you are not as competent as others may perceive you to be. It also asserts feelings of severe inadequacy and self-doubt, which can leave you feeling like a ‘fraud’. This can affect anyone, it doesn’t have to explicitly relate to one person or one collective ‘group’ of people. Forbes estimated that around 70% of the population will have experienced these feelings.
In the 21st century, with the tap of a phone, you can see thousands upon thousands of profiles. If I were to struggle to start writing, I can have access to articles that have already written on similar topics. If I wanted some fashion inspiration, Pinterest is right there with the most aesthetically pleasing outfits and homeware waiting for you to pin it to fit that feed you desperately desire. If I wanted to get well-being advice, Instagram has thousands of pages dedicated to positive affirmations and quotations that can advise you ‘how to start living your best life!’ in swirly yellow handwriting. We are around so many sources of expectations that are too high, and to be honest, very difficult to comprehend.
I find that sometimes, having access to so much material can be so overwhelming, and it can also feel like I am being swamped. I have aspirations to write and I desperately want to have articles published, but how can I ‘stand out’ when there is so much competition out there? I can go on Twitter, and stumble across accounts with thousands of followers, and a portfolio of work that spans years that I didn’t exist on.
It can be really difficult to feel like you are completely unique in a world, where individuality is accepted but also scrutinised. I read an article today that even a famous pop-star like Anne-Marie felt Imposter Syndrome, from appearing on The Voice UK.
Why is it affecting so many people? And how can we change our outlook?
If you have an ambition, something that keeps you up at night, that is a sign that you need to do something about it.
Sometimes I have an idea that surges my brain just before I go to bed, which is why I keep a notebook next to me. A passing thought could be the reason you are in the situation you are in. If you have something itching on to your brain, something you are desperately passionate to do, start addressing it. Put it into your routine.
Imposter Syndrome does its best to make you feel like you aren’t worthy, but make your life worthy by doing what makes you happy. Life is all about gaining perspective and having a purpose, and if you make your purpose to feel guilty for doing the things you enjoy, that makes it harder for you.
Develop a healthy response to failures and mistakes.
This is actually something I wish I had addressed sooner. We are all guilty of being hard on ourselves when things don’t go as planned. You may see someone achieving well, whether that be a good mark on an essay, or achieving a promotion in a job, and if you don’t get the gratifications from the same areas, you may feel guilty and sad.
Everyone’s journey is completely separate, and just because a good friend of yours has separate successes, doesn’t mean you won’t have your own.
Stop expecting perfection.
This is something that has taken me so much time to learn. I am not the best writer out there, but the measure of ‘best’ is completely subjective anyway. I could have one person tell me that I have written something amazing, and I will feel gratification. The source of perfectionism, in this modern world, is so unattainable. You cannot have the healthiest of bodies or minds if you are criticising yourself for not being the best of the best.
It is also great to have a goal to achieve, so each day you have something greater to work towards.
In a time that is fuelled by a lot more negative energy during the crisis, it should be a time where we allow ourselves to breathe and take time out.
Try not to compare yourself to others, but to an older version of you.
This is important because you can see immense progress within yourself which can ultimately make you feel miles better, than comparing yourself to someone with a completely different skillset. The whole Imposter Syndrome complex is based around feeling out of your depth compared to others, so ruling out that mindset can make you feel much more confident.
Remember that you are NOT alone
This is so important, as sometimes when you are bombarded with negativity, you may feel like it is only you that is feeling that way. These feelings are completely valid. Even the most successful, powerful, and accomplished men and women have been unsure of themselves at one point or another.
Your inner critic is your worst enemy. The next time you feel yourself doubting your abilities, ask yourself why! Write down all the feelings you have on a blank piece of paper, and then write on the other side the positives. Shifting the narrative around on how you define your skills and owning your own accomplishments, to silence those automatic negative thoughts and committing to self-care rituals instead.
Create a network of people around you that make you feel confident, instead of feeling anxious and experiment with new skills that stop you from feeling stuck in the same boat.
If you need further guidance, here are some self-help links on this: