I speak fast when I’m nervous. Scratch that: I always speak fast, but when I’m nervous my speed kicks into high gear to the point where it can be difficult to understand me. The first time I had to give an important presentation in the workplace, I was understandably nervous. As part of my training, I knew my colleagues were planning to give me feedback post-presentation, which made me even more nervous. Once the presentation was over, I received overwhelmingly positive feedback. The only negative feedback? I spoke too fast. Sigh.
It was at that moment that I realized that being nervous about doing a good job led to my nerves getting in my way. From there on out, I realized that a lack of confidence and those creeping feelings of imposter syndrome did nothing but hurt me. Now, even if I am nervous about a job interview or an important meeting, I push those nerves to the side. I know that if I give into them, they’re just going to get in my way, which in turn gives me one less thing to worry about.
Being excited about an opportunity, feeling nervous, and lacking confidence can all lead to falling head first into an imposter syndrome black hole. Here’s why you can’t give into those feelings.
Imposter syndrome isn’t productive
There’s a dangerous perception spreading around the inspirational spaces of the internet that you have to shut imposter syndrome out completely, and that you can never let those feelings of doubt or insecurity even cross your mind. That’s a really unfair standard to set, and one that can make you feel even worse when you are struggling with imposter syndrome. It’s OK to have feelings associated with imposter syndrome, as long as you can set them aside before they begin to harm you.
For example, if you’re scrolling through LinkedIn and see your dream job pop up, it’s totally understandable to worry you aren’t qualified based on the job description, but it’s not OK to choose to not apply because you don’t feel like you deserve your dream job. You can feel insecure when pitching a potential client, as long as you don’t lower your prices drastically just because they have a different idea of what your time is worth.
Imposter syndrome is so unproductive, so acknowledge your feelings, remind yourself of where these feelings stem from and why you’re ready to move past them, and then go ahead and check imposter syndrome off your to-do list.
Skip the self-fulfilling prophecy
Similar to how I learned that my fears about doing a bad job while public speaking make me actually do a bad job while public speaking, there are countless ways that imposter syndrome can lead to the exact results you were afraid of. If we tell ourselves we aren’t worthy of an exciting new opportunity, don’t put ourselves out there at networking events, or are afraid to start that business because we’ll never sell a single product, then what will happen? We won’t gain the new opportunity we wanted so badly; we won’t make any valuable new connections; we won’t ever start that business. If you succumb to imposter syndrome, you end up with the same results that imposter syndrome makes you feel will come to fruition. So what’s the point in giving in instead of taking that shot?
You owe yourself more
Nowadays, I don’t have to do much public speaking. As a freelance writer, I tend to stick to the written word, but there are countless other ways imposter syndrome creeps into my daily life. Is it a waste of time to pitch that really cool publication? Does anyone want me to share my work on my Instagram Stories? Can I really ask for that rate? I can’t get an answer to these questions unless I move forward. I won’t know if a publication will reject me until I pitch them. I won’t know if I can raise my rates until I try. I won’t get feedback on my work until I put it out into the world. One day I realized I owed it to myself to try. Do I get rejected? All the time. But rejection gets way easier to deal with once you’ve faced it a few times. Not to mention, by putting myself out there more and more, I don’t have all of my eggs in one basket, and don’t find myself as disappointed if something doesn’t work out.
We all owe it to ourselves to try. This sounds cheesy, but do you really think at the end of anyone’s life that they wished they didn’t put themselves out there as much? Probably not. You without a doubt owe it to yourself to stop letting imposter syndrome be your own worst enemy. I know that is so much easier said than done, but try to remember that next time imposter syndrome is about to take hold. You’re a total badass and you’ve got this, no matter what that voice in the back of your head says.