Sometimes, I don’t post for a period of time. I intend to, but I often find that weeks go by or a whole month before I get my writing head on and publish another article. And quite often I’ll tell myself ‘I haven’t had time’. ‘I don’t feel motivated’, ‘I’m too tired’. ‘You know, the usual excuses.
The truth is I’ve been struggling with something so many others, especially creatives, suffer with at some point in their lives: imposter syndrome.
For those of you who may not have heard of it, it’s highly likely you have felt it at some period of your life, are feeling it right now, or will feel it in the future. It doesn’t matter how driven you are, how good you are at what you do, or how successful you are, imposter syndrome will make you feel like a huge fraud in what you are doing. It will whisper into your ear that you don’t belong in the position you do, that you’re a bad person, that you have no business doing what you’re doing and that everybody else will see it too.
Sometimes, imposter syndrome can be triggered by pre-existing low-self esteem issues, or a habit of talking and thinking negatively about yourself. Other times, it comes out of nowhere like an annoying little gremlin that attaches itself to you one day and just won’t get lost.
In my case, I spent much of my life having my opinions discounted, being bullied, being called ‘useless’, being called ugly, being called a dumb blonde, or completely blanked. After years and years of counselling through my teen and adult years, and reading piles of self-help books, I started to do what I loved and felt brave enough to put my thoughts and feelings onto a blog.
But those old feelings still come back, and because I’m not perfect (as nobody is) I sometimes forget everything I have learned over the years and revert back to a vulnerable state. I trip up.
For example, even though I’m a minimalist, I’m still prone to bouts of a bit of Amazon shopping to cheer me up, which makes more work for myself when I either have to send things back, or declutter more things I already owned to make way for the new thing.
Or sometimes I will pour myself a cider or two instead of working on the things which bring long-term satisfaction. Something to numb the feeling that I’m fraudulent or no good.
It’s not a lack of discipline – it’s a learned coping mechanism.
I’m on the autistic spectrum, and quite often will become over-stimulated with everyday things (something which minimalism helps to reduce). Often, I also struggle to process verbal information, whereas I am ridiculously good at taking in and remembering anything written. This means I can’t always process the simplest of things someone has said to me. As a result, people have me down as and often joke about me being ‘thick’ or ‘stupid’.
There’s only so many times you can laugh that kind of thing off before it starts to do major damage, which is why it’s so so important that you work on and believe in your own self worth.
Thus, imposter syndrome rears its ugly head and says ‘what do you think you’re doing in this space? Leave it up to the pros like Joshua Becker and The Minimalists. Who would listen to the likes of you? Everyone will see you are fake’.
Now, sometimes I really am just pure air-headed, and there are so many times I’ve gone down in history with friends and family for silly things I have done, and we all have a huge laugh. But the rest of the time, I have to fight to remember I’m not dumb or stupid, and that I’m not neurotypical and simply process things differently. I tend to process things and express myself through writing.
The remedy for fighting these negative kinds of thoughts is to simply do whatever it is you were putting off or thinking you weren’t good enough for. Prove yourself to yourself.
No matter what, do that speech, write that chapter of your book, hit publish, voice your true opinion. Dare to be yourself.
It’s the only real way to beat the gremlin of Imposter Syndrome and stomp out that voice telling you that you don’t belong. That, and remembering that none of us are perfect, and nothing you ever do will be perfect.
Perfectionism goes hand-in-hand with Imposter Syndrome, and the two of them will team up, feeding each other off of your self-doubt and getting bigger and bigger.
In fact, I was just telling my therapist about my struggle with perfectionism and how I’ve been struggling to blog, and he said ‘Well, why don’t you just share that on your blog? People need to know the struggles of others they follow so they don’t feel alone’.
So this is why you’re reading this today – because it hit me that I had forgotten how to be vulnerable, and was too busy trying to wait until my mental health was perfect, and until I felt like I ‘belonged’ again and was sure I was intelligent enough to write.
If you’re going through imposter syndrome right now, or doubting yourself as a minimalist because you slipped up and bought a bunch of stuff – I feel you. I’m right there with you.
Because while I’m here to guide you, I’m not perfect. Neither are you, and neither is any guru, coach or celebrity out there.
What you are is yourself, and to give the world your authentic self with your unique gifts is the best thing you’ll ever do.