“Hello darkness, my old friend…”
OK, if you heard that line and didn’t immediately start thinking about Simon & Garfunkel, you’re too young to be reading this. But wait! I just Googled that song’s release, and it came out in 1967—which means by that logic, I’m too young to be writing this. So stay with me.
As if 2020 has not aged me enough, a big shot of imposter syndrome definitely added a few more grey hairs. Two weeks ago, we launched “The Whipp” and I have to tell you a bit about what went on behind the scenes.
I’ve been in business since 2008. And from the moment I began, I’ve tried to think of impactful ways to stay connected to clients and colleagues that were more sophisticated than selfies and pictures of my favourite dinners.
That being said, I’ve been extremely hesitant to put myself out there online. I blamed it on many things: First, have you been on social media lately? ‘Nuff said. Second, I’ve been fortunate enough to grow my business through referrals to full capacity, so it wasn’t urgent to pay the bills.
But the real reason is that the skeptic in me was on fraud alert.
I often see people bragging about being experts, showing photos of Lamborghinis and snaps from their luxe vacations, and it made me question whether the world really needed one more person pushing noise into your feed.
But after months of getting great publications that I can’t wait to open like “The Bullet” (a daily shot of news) and Mark Manson’s “Mindf*ck Mondays” or “Wait But Why,” it occurred to me that I, too, could create something that cuts through the noise. I knew that I wanted to put something out to others that was fun, interesting and inspiring.
In April, I got started. And for each month that went by, the launch date was delayed. Some reasons were legit such as, “I’m locked in my house with my family,” “my husband thinks he’s going to start a side hustle making sourdough,” “schools and playgrounds are closed,” “my four-year-old just asked to play with paint and I didn’t have time to say no because my two-year-old was about to lick shoes…again.”
I guess I ran out of emotional real estate after that.
But as the months ticked by, and we got to the “just push send” moment, I kept feeling anxious. I’d make edits and more edits. I’d make excuses to wait another week. I would read it and hate everything and want to start over. I would debate why I needed to do this anyway. I would procrastinate. I would eat a cookie (because “hey, you deserve a treat!”). I would clean my office. I would re-organize my pens.
You get the drift.
As we got within hours of launch, I realized it was “the darkness,” a.k.a. my old friend, imposter syndrome. I felt anxious. I was terrified of putting something out into the world that could be judged by others.
I had already determined that I wasn’t good enough before ever hitting send! I could already picture people saying, “who the heck does she think she is?”
Impostor syndrome (or impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”
Here are a few fun facts about it: It affects women more often than men. It often affects those who are high achievers, and common symptoms include fear of failure and crippling perfectionism.
As a working mom, I feel this has actually gotten worse with motherhood. It’s hard to feel you are on a path to world domination when you are also failing, against a two-year-old, to effectively argue the importance of wearing pants. And pile on a global pandemic, a lack of outside support, and knowing that there are dishes and laundry waiting to be done.
Why did I think I deserved to be sharing my insights with the world when I’m so humbly imperfect?
Here’s the irony: I’ve always found that I loved being influenced by people who aren’t perfect. As a matter of fact, I prefer them that way. I feel safer and more connected when I get to learn from people who I can relate to on a deeper level.
And here’s a little more irony: Some of the brightest people I’ve ever worked with have suffered from this nasty syndrome. I’ve had the chance to work with so many awesome leaders, both men and women, and none are immune. Many explain that they constantly feel like frauds and wonder if one day, when they least expect it, the world will find out that they are not as great as everyone thinks.
When this feeling strikes, I know firsthand how tempting it is to play it safe, avoid risk, and hide away from being found out.
Although there is a lot of research on this, I only tell this story because someone you know is struggling to take a leap. I’d bet my bank account on it.
If it’s a friend, remember to lobby for all of the gains that come with taking that leap.
If it’s you, feel the fear, listen to the voice in your head that is running that imposter syndrome tape and give it a dose of its own medicine by saying, “hey, why should I listen to you anyway!” See if you can tap into that voice of wisdom that says, “with each risk comes more experience, which creates more wisdom, more giggles and humour and more opportunity to be inspired and inspire others.”
And that my friends, is what “The Whipp” is all about.