I love working for myself, don’t get me wrong, but there are times when I just feel like someone threw me into a steaming pile of shit with no shovel. And even if I had a shovel, would that really solve my problems? I’m in a massive pile of shit so no, it would not. You’d need a shower, detergent, and a trip to the GP.
But I digress. My extremely delicate metaphor there just means you can have all the tools and still feel like shit. It really does happen to everyone. So before you do anything else, just remind yourself of that.
I’ve been wanting to write about this for a while, and that’s because Imposter Syndrome feels a bit like a silent killer. No one really talks about it as much as they probably should, myself included, and all those thoughts of self-doubt and unworthiness will bleed into other areas of your life.
First you doubt your abilities as it pertains to work and success, then you doubt your abilities as a friend, partner, child, etc. Eventually it becomes a monster that lives in your head, rent free. The Imposter Monster. What a piece of shit. Then he brings his cousin, The Depression Demon, and the two just sit there feeding on your happy thoughts every day for breakfast.
I painted quite the picture with those characters and I bet you’re imagining what they look like. Well, see my Instagram post for a bit more clarity. You’re welcome.
Anyway. People with low self-esteem, perfectionists, and over-achievers are the most prone to suffer from Imposter Syndrome. People who dont perform at 100%, 100% of the time, feel like failures. I used to be really bad about this when I started working for myself, and there are days where I still beat myself up for simply taking a few hours to myself. The way we talk about work now makes you feel like if you’re not “always grinding,” you’re doing it wrong.
The only thing that does is make you burn out faster. This happens to me fairly often too.
You can think you know what’s going on in someone’s life by looking at their Instagram page, but it’s so far removed from reality. And even KNOWING THAT, all we do is consume and compare.
The comparison game is another offshoot of Imposter Syndrome, because once we have this “fraud” thought in our minds, we’ll go subconsciously looking for ways to prove it. So be careful and aware of those feelings when they arise, and maybe stay off social media for a little til it passes. Because it’s much nicer when you can pop on social media and feel inspired as opposed to jealous. It’s a frame of mind that you have to be consciously willing to adopt. You have to take it from “I love this post…I wish I thought of that/I wish I could do that” to “I love this post.” FULL STOP.
Next time you’re on there, just take stock of the posts you like and move on. STAY FOCUSED ON YOU. Don’t do a deep dive on what you would do differently and don’t beat yourself up for not thinking of it first. That’s a great way to give yourself a mini stroke by 40. And if you didn’t think of it, maybe there’s a reason. Maybe that’s not the type of content you enjoy creating, and you just have to find what works for you.
This process takes time, but we never actually see it that way, because social media makes it seem like everyone is out there crushing it. We get fed TRENDING content, and we rarely see the posts from people who are just starting out or pivoting. It’s hard to not get defeated by the numbers because we’re told “numbers don’t lie” but there are plenty of people out there manipulating the algorithm and buying likes. Yes, you could pump out 20 reels in one week and there’s a good chance one will go viral, but is that the content you enjoy making? Can you be consistent with that frequency? Probably not. I know I can’t.
Instagram is a curated feed of our lives, it’s not reality.
When I feel extra anxious about this shit, sometimes I just want to hear “I totally get it” from someone who actually does. I’ve discovered that this is pretty standard, garden variety entrepreneur bullshit. I don’t want to minimize it by using those words, but it’s just…very fucking normal. Remember that.
Fun fact: women experience this “phenomenon” more than men do (the fun fact that shocks no one). You mean to tell me…that…men…don’t feel as badly about themselves…as…WOMEN DO?!
STOP EVERYTHING STOP IT NOW.
Yawn. Wake me up when it’s actually shocking.
You know I’m not one to get all feminist on here, but we really do not support the modern woman as much as we do the modern man. I think we’ve made moves and it’s gotten better, but I don’t think my cousins in various parts of Europe would still be shaming me for not having children “at this age” if I were a man.
For example, I have always felt like an imposter for owning my apartment in Williamsburg from such a young age (I was 26 when I bought it). Other people would say it’s amazing, and I used to say “it’s circumstantial.” I used to feel like I didn’t EARN it because I made the down payment with the money I got from my car accident settlement, as opposed to money I got from my job. I also bought when the market was cheaper than Manhattan, so I told myself, “I got lucky.”
LUCKY?! I GOT HIT BY A FUCKING CAR. THOSE WERE THE MEANS I USED TO ACCOMPLISH OWNING A HOME.
I would hardly offer that as advice to anyone looking to get into real estate:
“Yea just play in traffic, it’ll work out.”
Why on EARTH would I describe that to anyone as “lucky??” Because it’s not the “normal” way one goes about buying an apartment.
Normal is being older, maybe having a family and/or a steady career, and I had none of those. I was 26 years old, single, and working as an ad sales assistant at a magazine. Not exactly the pedigree you’re used to seeing on a mortgage application. And because of that, I felt like an imposter.
Meanwhile, years later, the more confident version of Dara says “yea it was smart and good foresight to buy this place.” Do I make a joke and say it was the “ONE smart thing I’ve done with my life”? Of course I do. Self deprecating humor is one of my brand pillars.
Just be proud of yourself. I didn’t have to buy this apartment with my settlement money; I could have pissed it away on cars, skincare, and handbags, but I didn’t. I chose to make a wise decision with my finances and invest it.
Working is also not the ONLY way to “earn” something. It’s all relative. If you’ve been dealt a shitty hand in life, and the universe smiles upon you in another way (in my case, by giving me settlement money), that’s fair and fluid. It’s not like I bought this place with illegal drug money. I had 18 surgeries, sat depressed in a hospital bed for a month, pissed myself a few times, and had awful PTSD. I think I “earned” it after all.
So next time you start to doubt yourself or feel like you don’t “deserve” what you have, try some of my affirmations I adopted this year. Or try all of them, go crazy! Repeat after me:
I’m not BEHIND anyone, I’m just on my own path.
My story is unique, and plot twists are welcome.
I don’t owe anyone an explanation for what feels right to me at this time.
I’m proud of how far I’ve come and thankful for the lessons I’ve learned.
Everyone goes through ups and downs; I’m riding the wave.
I don’t give up when I get lost, I just change direction and keep going.
Here’s to fighting Imposter Syndrome in 2022. We got this. Leave a comment if you have thoughts or want to hear more about this topic!