Bloggers and writers often suffer from a form of self-doubt that manifests as Imposter Syndrome. If you’ve ever felt like a fraud—like someone posing as someone else, you’ve had this malady. But you aren’t a fraud, so how do you stop feeling like one? Today, freelance writer Beth Bauer (@JourneyofBethB) provides you with some sound advice that will keep you feeling secure in the knowledge that you, as a blogger and writer, are the real deal.
Do you ever get the overwhelming feeling that you’re faking your way through life? Do you have a deep fear that you’ll be exposed as a fraud, incompetent, or unintelligent? What you’re feeling is Imposter Syndrome, and it happens to almost everyone at some point or another.
Even the most successful Hollywood stars or entrepreneurs experience Imposter Syndrome, especially at the beginning of a new endeavor. Bloggers and aspiring authors are no different. They commonly feel as if they are faking their expertise or, at the very least, don’t have anything write about that is worth sharing.
Now that you know what Imposter Syndrome is, how do you deal with it? Better yet, how do you avoid it all together?
When was Imposter Syndrome Discovered?
Before you roll your eyes thinking that Imposter Syndrome is some kind of modern buzz word for losers, you should know that it was first identified in 1978 during a study on high-achieving women by renowned psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance. Imposter Syndrome is a genuine phenomenon that affects millions of successful people every year.
The Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome
The most common symptoms of Imposter Syndrome include negative self-talk, and an obsessive need to continually re-check or re-write your work. You might also find yourself shying away from compliments on your performance and trying to overcompensate by constantly working and not setting appropriate personal boundaries regarding your workload.
If you obsess with self-doubt, fear, and blame yourself for failures, you’re probably dealing with Imposter Syndrome. People struggling with this malady also typically attribute their success to good luck rather than skill.
What Causes Imposter Syndrome?
Today’s society is inundated with images of successful people with money and status. Celebrities drive around in new Ferraris, buy 100-foot yachts, and are glamorized by almost everyone. As a result, most “regular” people compare themselves to these high standards. The result? A feeling of personal doubt and low self-esteem.
Who Might Experience it?
Impostor Syndrome does not discriminate and is widespread around the globe. It runs rampant in any circle, from Pulitzer Prize winners to the guy next door. It’s rarely discussed because it creates a feeling of shame, and most people want to keep their sense of inadequacies secret.
However, more and more people are beginning to speak out on the subject. Imposter Syndrome is normal, and there is no reason to be ashamed.
How to Handel Imposter Syndrome?
When you begin to feel the grips of Imposter Syndrome creeping in, the best thing you can do is remind yourself of your accomplishments. Someone somewhere is probably envious of your achievements, no matter how small they seem to you.
Remember when you struggled just to design your blog or the exhilaration you felt when you published a post for the first time? Recall the feeling of achievement you had when you hit 1,000 blog or social media followers? What about when you first saw your name on the byline of a guest post or article or noted as the author of a book? Those events are milestones that beginning bloggers and aspiring authors are struggling to reach. Be proud of how far you’ve come.
Teach or Mentor Others
A great way to remind yourself of how much you know is to teach or mentor someone else. When they ask you a question, and you quickly offer back a response, you might be surprised at the wise words coming out of your mouth.
You know more than you realize. Share your knowledge with others, and it will give you a boost of self-confidence.
Continue to Learn
At some point, while you are teaching or mentoring—or sharing what you know via your blog posts—you will undoubtedly be asked a question that leaves you stumped. That’s perfectly normal, and it’s an excellent opportunity for you to research and learn more about your trade.
Blogging is not as simple as typing out some words. You need to know best practices for formatting, SEO, and editing as well as a lot of other challenging aspects necessary to run a successful blog. Being asked a question that you don’t know the answer to is no cause for panic—or a renewed bout of Imposter Syndrome. On the contrary, it’s a chance to sharpen your saw.
Don’t Let Rejection Make You Feel like a Fraud
From time to time everyone feels like a failure or fraud. It’s just part of the entrepreneur and creative experience. For writers and bloggers, rejection can often bring up feelings of being an imposter as well as self-doubt. But rejection is part and parcel of the journey to authorship.
The famous novel, Gone with the Wind, was rejected 38 times before being published. The Diary of Anne Frank was turned down 15 times. Even the award-winning Stephen King has been rejected, and probably felt like a failure, when his novel, Carrie, was rejected over 30 times before it was finally published.
Nonfiction authors suffer from rejection as well. Consider Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig, which was rejected 121 times. The original Chicken Soup for the Soul by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen was rejected by 144 publishers.
The point is, we all go through times of self-doubt. That doesn’t mean we are not who we say we are.
When things feel dark, and you start wondering if you are a fraud, remember that the feeling will pass. You’ve accomplished plenty and will continue to achieve more. You are a successful blogger. You are a writer and, possibly an author (or you will become one).
Celebrate your wins and keep on going! Know that you are YOU—not some imposter trying to pose as you. And you have much to offer your readers.
Do you have any maintenance tips you’d add to this list? Tell me in a comment below.
About the Author
Beth Bauer is a freelance writer, travel blogger, yoga instructor, and entrepreneur currently working on her third novel. She has traveled to over 20 countries in just the last two years and enjoys life as a digital nomad. She is originally from the Pacific Northwest of the U.S.A., and when she’s home lives on the Long Beach Peninsula with her dog, Ozzie.