0 In Dear Allison

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Dear Allison,

I know that I have a talent, a gift, but I can’t get out of my head. I keep wondering why anyone would care what I have to offer. So many others are doing the same thing I am, so how can I really expect someone to care about my thing? Any advice on how to gain confidence in a world saturated with entrepreneurs? I feel like a fake.

Sincerely,

Fakin’ it ‘til I make it

 

Dear Fakin’ it,

Ah, yes. The plight of all creatives: Why would anyone care about what I have to offer?

I have found this feeling of inadequacy and doubt is born in long labors through two phenomena’s:

  • Imposter Syndrome
  • The Slash Culture

Lets start with The Slash Culture. No, I am not referring to gory machete laden horror flicks, but rather to that little diagonal line on your keyboard or under the stroke of the pen that divides you into two people: The slash /

We are a culture of slashes. Photographer/computer programmer, blogger/hairstylist, designer/stay at home mom.  The upside is the / has granted permission to celebrate all of your abilities, unique talents and extraordinary gifts that make you, YOU. You no longer have to be just one thing! How freeing a thought!

But, the slash comes with an unexpected snare. While it is liberating to showcase and pursue those special knacks that divide us into conventional and creative beings, it also does just that—it divides. This split often make it more difficult to feel confident in an identity. Are we this thing or are we that thing? What defines those things? Money? Followers? Fame? Can we really attach ourselves to one side of the slash if it has only yielded moderate success? If I have only sold one photograph, can I really tell people I am “a photographer”? If I have written a blog that analytics said was seen by only fifteen people, can I really tell people I am “a writer”? The rift the slash creates often takes us further away from our truest self and creates internal imbalance as we hop from one side to the other. Parts of our personality shine while the other parts only moonlight. This imbalance opens to the door to feelings of doubt and of being a fraud.

Enter Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is the notion you are not qualified/valuable/good enough to truly claim a label or identity (writer, photographer, designer, chef, etc.). Imposter Syndrome is particularly strong during seasons of transition — at the starting phase of a new project, or even in the obsessive thinking phase leading up to it. It’s a fear that, like many others, has a voice. And that voice can say some really mean-spirited things. For instance, here are some of the things you might hear in your mind when in the throes of Imposter Syndrome:

“Who gave you permission to call yourself an artist?” 

“You don’t actually have talent. You’re just pretending.”

“Everyone who does what you are trying to do has a wealth of experience, confidence, and ability that you simply lack.”

See? Pretty brutal stuff.

            So this begs the question: what causes Imposter Syndrome?

From my experience, it derives from a deeply-ingrained misconception that our talents are the norm, that the abilities we have aren’t really that unique in the first place. Our thoughts look like this:

            “Anyone can do this. The fact that I can [write, paint, design a website, take pictures, sing, etc.] — surely that’s not all that special. And the fact that I struggle in any way is a sign that I’m not even very good at this basic thing in the first place.”

            Bottom line: We fail to see anything remarkable in what comes natural to us.

So how do we deal with Imposter Syndrome? Here’s what’s worked for me:

  1. Give it a name: Imposter Syndrome is a distortion. It causes you to see the world through a lens in which you are not the gifted person you are. So the first step: put a name on it. Call it Imposter Syndrome. Call it Steve. Call it whatever you want. But just know that whatever you choose to call it, it’s not your reality. When it shows up greet it by name, acknowledge it and then politely tell it you’re simply too busy being fabulous to hang out. Bye Steve.
  1. Talk About It: The biggest reason Imposter Syndrome/Steve is so common is because we don’t own up to it. Everyone pretends like they have it all figured out and this creates the belief we are the only ones struggling. Trust me, you are NOT.
  1. Don’t compare: Ok, this one is just not going to happen. It’s in our nature to compare. So, if you must compare at least chose to do so accurately. Do not measure your biggest flop against someone’s greatest accomplishment. Remember, there is no comparison between the sun and the moon – they shine when it is their time…and so will you!
  1. Change your language. Once you realize you have unique value, change your internal dialogue. Don’t talk down to or criticize yourself. Don’t use words such as “it was just…”, or “only” when referencing your accomplishments. Don’t minimize your accomplishments with qualifiers that diminish their value.
  1. Embrace the slash: Throw some glitter on it. Dress it up. Buy that slash a drink and take it out on a date. You were created with talents and gifts that are intended to be used and celebrated. They may be similar to those others have but they are not the same. Get to know them. Spend some serious one on one time with all the sides of you and learn what makes you stand out. I crisscross my heart you find that no one else on this earth has what you have, no one else is you and that is your super power.

I’m cheering you on! I’d love to hear what tips you implement into your routine and any other strategies that have worked in the past. Feel free to leave any questions or comments below and let me know what topic you’d like me to cover for next month’s column.

xo Allison


Dear Allison is written by Allison Avalon, a Blogger and self-help mogul originally from Northern California.  As a former counselor to at-risk youth Allison developed creative and inspiring new tactics to tackle self-doubt, negative self-worth and body issues.  In 2016 Allison created her website as a haven for one of kind, proprietary {IM}Possible workbooks and workshops promoting self-love, self-care, purpose mapping and Empower Parties. Additionally,  Allison moonlights as a personal wellness coach and motivational speaker for women and youth. You can connect with Allison on Instagram @allisonavalon.

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