When a lovely follower DMed me on Instagram and said, Vix can you please do some content on Imposter Syndrome because I cannot do anything with my blog right now. I felt that on a DEEP level. So deep in fact that when I went to my therapist the next day, I spoke with her about it.
And you know what, I really want to get deep in this episode because I truly believe that a LOT of us are dealing with it in some way.
I told her that often, in my new job online, that is so very different from my previous job as a teacher, I have strong feelings that I’m making it up as I go along and will eventually be found out for being a clueless fraud. We spoke for an entire hour about my insecurities about being online and how I often detach myself from what others say about my work and how I feel about it.
She then gave me a strategy, which I’ll share with you a bit later. But I thought first, we could look at how imposter syndrome manifests, and how as bloggers, we are often more susceptible to it.
Then I’m going to get a bit personal and talk about the times I’ve felt it and what’s triggered it so lol THX FOR BEING MY FREE THERAPIST and then I’m going to share some strategies I use, moving forward. So if you’ve ever felt like an imposter with your blog, then join me and I hope by the end of this episode, we’ll all come away feeling less fraud like and more frigging kick arse like. Ya with me?
Ok so my therapist told me about where the theory of imposter syndrome originated and told me to look up the book, The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer From the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, by Dr. Valerie Young
In it, Young breaks down 5 types of ‘imposters’ and the way these feelings affect them. You might recognise yourself in one of these archetypes or all of them. But ALL of them are relevant to us and our blogs at various stages so I hope when you hear what I’m going to say, you’ll nod along like I did to my therapist! Haha
First is the Perfectionists. They set excessively high goals for themselves, and when they fail to reach a goal, they experience major self-doubt and worry about measuring up. Been there right? Can’t understand why we haven’t got 100k followers yet? Or why we’re not winning blogging awards? And when we feel overlooked again, we then doubt EVERYTHING.
Then there are the ‘Superheros’. These people believe they’re fakes amongst the real-deals, so they push themselves to work harder and harder to measure up. But this is just a false cover-up for their insecurities. OMFG BEEN THERE right? We constantly measure ourselves up against others in the industry and look inwards and go, ‘what am I doing here? On this campaign? Writing this post? With these lovely DMs? I should do more and prove myself.’
Then there are the ‘Natural Geniuses’ These types of imposters set their internal bar impossibly high, just like perfectionists. Perhaps they’ve always been gifted at things – academically, artistically or whatever, and then when it comes to blogging, they find it hard. Hard to gain and audience, or nail SEO, or create engagement. These types judge themselves harshly when they can’t pick things up straight away.
The next type are the ‘Soloists’ and have you ever heard something more on brand for a blogger? These types of imposters always achieve everything by themselves and then feel shame when they need to ask for help. Often as bloggers we want to keep up our ‘brand image’ of being together, professional, aspirational or whatever ALL the time and that by reaching out to someone else we are admitting we’re not as good as our Instagram caption wants everyone to believe.
And finally there are the experts. They measure their competence based on “what” and “how much” they know or can do. They fear being exposed as inexperienced or unknowledgeable. I mean just imagine admitting that you haven’t got the foggiest what a keyword is! You’re a blogger, you should know it all ! Sound familiar right?
But imposter syndrome is bred from lack of confidence, Which is something women experience WAY more than men. I mean, we’ve all been mansplained the offside rule even though we’ve sat through enough of David Beckham World Cup moments right? Purely for the free kicks. Not for his hair. At ALL.
And blogging, historically, was a hobby that introverts took to. It might not feel that way this day and age necessarily but I know it’s true for me!
I HUGELY lack confidence. Which may come as a surprise because I’m definitely one of those introverted extroverts. I love public speaking, meeting new people and putting myself out there but it’s almost always followed up with days spent in bed, google teaching vacancies, ignoring emails and scrolling Instagram, tormenting myself that I’m not good enough.
So this is what I told my therapist.
I said, sometimes, when I do my work online, I’ll come up against a shitty comment or subtweet and I’ll IMMEDIATELY think it’s about me. Then I’ll go in a shit spiral for hours or days and believe I’m the worst blogger in the world.
And you know, sometimes, I could have a day where I’ll get 60 amazing emails, 50 kind and lovely DMs and a ton of fabulous testimonials from bloggers I’ve worked with and NONE of it will sink in. It’ll all go straight over my head. I won’t even feel the positivity.
And she told me what I already knew. That I lacked confidence. And also, that blogging and this job and this world is so precious to me that I’m afraid that if the covers are whipped off and I’m exposed as the loser that I am, that it’ll all go away. Perhaps you can relate, maybe not, I hope so.
Anyway, we’ve been working lots on assertiveness and non-violent communication and she got me to try one of the techniques on myself whenever my imposter voice creeps in, so maybe it’ll help you too.
In non violent communication, you often get into a headspace called ‘jackal language’ which goes something like, ‘for god’s sake, I’m useless, I’ll never get anywhere with my blog, everyone is so much better than me, everyone is getting great opportunities and nothing is happening for me so it must mean I’m shit and I should just give up.’
But you need to move from the jackal language to a place where you are only aloud to state observations. So what have you observed that has kick-started the jackal language. Here are some things I observe in blogging that you might recognise…
‘I saw x get a partnership with brand y’
‘I saw x grow y new followers in a few days’
‘My Instagram post on Tuesday got less likes than I imagine.’
‘My blog post on Wednesday had half the amount of viewers as normal.’
‘X subtweeted about blogging coaches’
Then you move from your observation to your feelings. And actually my therapist gave me a great sheet all about feelings and needs so I might try and find one and stick it in the show notes, incase it helps you.
So you’d say to yourself, ‘when (observation) happened I felt…’
And often those feelings that are related to imposter syndrome are, ‘isolated, despondent, disheartened, unconfident, demotivated, rejected.’
Then you move from those feelings into what your needs are. So in relation to those feelings it might be…
I need x brand to recognise my hard work.
I need to be kinder to myself if the Instagram algorithm isn’t being kind.
I need to see which things I am in control of and improve them and which things are out of my control.
I need to understand that I can’t control what other people say or think about me, I can only control how I react.
And then you make a request of yourself – on how you react.
My therapist and I came up with this… ‘When I am feeling rejected/despondent/demotivated I.e like an imposter, I need to be kind to myself, acknowledge my feelings are coming from a place of low confidence and go and do something that brings me joy and makes me feel confident.’
So when I’m feeling imposter syndrome about my blog or my platforms, my new resolution to myself is to shut down my laptop, turn my phone off and go and be kind to myself. Whether that’s read through old, positive comments and testimonials. Or have a hot shower and sing the Greatest Showman soundtrack, read a book, go shopping or go for a walk. And once I’ve been kinder to myself, and I’ve given myself a break from the situation that makes me feel like an imposter. I’m often ready to come back to it with a bit more confidence.
It might not work for you, so I’d love to know when you experience imposter syndrome with your blog, how you tackle it? What triggers it? How long does it take you to recover? Feel free to privately Dm or email me!
Wheeew that was a deep one right? Shall I tell you a joke to lighten it up?
Anyway, yep please come and chat and don’t forget to leave a rating and review as they mean the world! Speak soon pals, BYEEEE
Download the ‘Feelings’ sheet here!