Ever heard of imposter syndrome before? If you’ve ever found yourself feeling inadequate or like you’re ‘not enough,’ you’re one of the millions of people who have dealt with this issue. It’s insanely common, and it’s a big deal! People, especially women, are living their lives absolutely terrified that they are going to be exposed as a fraud. That someone is going to come forward and call them out and let the world know they’ve just been faking it this whole time.
As I’ve grown as a business woman (which by the way, it still feels completely ridiculous to say that because in my head I’m definitely still 17), I’ve found that imposter syndrome doesn’t go away. Every time I get to a point where I can feel myself up-leveling in my business, it rears its ugly head, sometimes even more intense than before. My business is better than it has ever been and I still have moments where I’m terrified that the other shoe could drop.
However, as my imposter syndrome has gotten more and more intense, so has my mental strength. I can feel when imposter syndrome is coming and while I don’t think I’ll ever be able to stop it, I have developed the tools I need to deal with it. I firmly believe that anyone can do this, and I am hopeful that by sharing with you, you can start to take action on shifting your mindset to deal with imposter syndrome instead of letting it control you.
The Only Maddie
When imposter syndrome shows up for myself or other people, it’s often because we feel we aren’t enough. We feel that if we aren’t an expert at something, then we shouldn’t do it at all. One of the first shifts that has been helpful for me to make is recognizing the fact that I am the only Maddie. I am the only Maddie Peschong who has lived in this life, and because of that, I’m the only person who has experienced the things that I’ve experienced. From those life experiences, education, and interactions with other people, there have come lessons. I am the only one who can articulate those lessons to the world. What a shame it would be if those lessons didn’t get told to people who need to hear them! This is what I go back to when I’m having those moments of insecurity. Is there somebody out there that needs to hear this, and who I am to stop them from hearing it because I’m insecure?
One Step Ahead
I also like to remind myself that even if I don’t feel like the expert, the fact is that I know more than someone (and I know less than someone). On certain topics, I do know things that other people don’t know – because I am the only me. Therefore, I have something to offer, even if it is only to one or a few people! But by just being one step ahead of somebody, I can help. Reminding myself of that is really helpful when battling imposter syndrome.
More of the Same
You have to understand that when you are in any career field, you are probably also surrounded by it. For me, I am constantly surrounded by photography content – I follow other photographers on social media, I am friends with other photographers, I subscribe to emails from photographers, etc. Because of that, we see so much more of that type of content than other people do. That can lead to you feeling like everyone is doing something better than you, bigger than you, or before you could do it. Then that leads you to feeling like the industry is too saturated or like every idea has been done. That often stops people from doing what they want to do, but the reality is is that we are surrounded by it. Social media is set up with algorithms to show you more of what you like and interact with, so even just going off of that shows you are going to be served with more content that you are already consuming.
But what if you asked someone not in your field how many photographers are in town or how many graphic designers they think of when they have a design need? It is probably much less than what you think of because they aren’t in that field.
Before every branding session, I have my clients fill out a questionnaire. One question I ask them is who they admire in their industry and why. The wording they use always makes me smile. They call them the “big names” or “popular” or “experts.” But 9/10 times, I have no idea who those people are. But I know who my client is, and I am more likely to engage or buy from my client over these “famous” people they are admiring. This is a reminder that it doesn’t matter who is doing what you are doing. What matters is the connection you are creating with people. People don’t buy services, they buy experience, and they buy from people.
Don’t be so consumed by what other people are doing or what the “big names” are launching, otherwise you will miss this opportunity you have to get in front of your people, the people who know, like, and trust you. You are missing such an opportunity by focusing on what things others are doing and by not staying in your lane and doing those things yourself.
What Are You Consuming?
Doing all of that is difficult. I work to remind myself of it, especially when I am working on content for my own business. I love listening to podcasts while working – typically business and marketing ones – but when I have a heavy content-creation day, I can’t be consuming that type of content. If I do, I get too in my head.
For example, someone else will do a podcast episode I was thinking of doing and I just spiral with negative thoughts (“they did that so much better than me, I can’t bring anything new to the table, everyone who follows me also follows her, etc.”). This is ridiculous – there is enough room for everyone (and I know this! I mean how many times have I talked about the principle of abundance?!), but this just shows you how strong imposter syndrome can be. So not consuming the same type of content on days I am creating my own has been helpful for me to deal with imposter syndrome. Not putting myself into that position keeps me from going down that path in the first place.
Just a Little Different
This all really goes back to the limiting belief that what we want to do is not original enough, because it already exists out there in some capacity. It is hard to come to terms with the fact that you may be creating something that already exists and already is successful. We then tend to see other people’s success meaning less success for us, which again goes against the principle of abundance. One thing I heard from another podcast was that someone else’s success doing the thing that I want to do is actually a really good sign. Because if they are having success, it means that the need or want was there, and there could be success for you too.
And those people can’t possibly serve everyone. There will be people who don’t know or trust those people are, but they know and trust who you are. Shift your mind to see it as those people did this thing and had a lot of success, but I know how I can do it a little bit differently. Different isn’t better or worse, it’s just different, and that difference may resonate with someone who didn’t buy from that other person. There are many factors that can play into this and many things you can do to change this ‘thing’ to make it totally your own.
Get to Know Your Audience
Another thing that has been helpful for me in dealing with imposter syndrome has been to talk to my people – talking to them about who they are, what they like or don’t like, something I have done that has made a positive impact on them, etc. Suddenly you put a face to these people you are serving, which makes it easier to serve, and it makes it harder to let imposter syndrome win. You see actual people who could be helped by you showing up. You realize it’s so much bigger than the insecurity, the worry, and the judgement that you think others are putting on you. There are lives that could be affected in a really positive way, and when you think about that, it changes your whole perspective on showing up.
Thinking About Ourselves
People are not thinking about us near as much as we think they are. Lately I felt like I was constantly announcing things on social media, but my business coach reminded me that everyone doesn’t see everything I post. People don’t see every single thing I put out there and just are not thinking about me as much as I think they are. It doesn’t mean we conceited thinking that way, it just means we are human. Reality is everyone is just thinking and worrying about themselves, which is also a good reminder within your business. This can bum you out or be really freeing (I try to choose to have it be freeing).
Fighting Through It
Lately, I have been struggling to open up about this “mindset” stuff I have been working on. Which is interesting because it’s the stuff I have been working really hard on this year, and it is what has allowed me to level-up in my business. But it still has been hard for me to share this stuff – because of imposter syndrome.
Every time I go to share something like this, I question why I think I am good enough to share it (“Maddie, you aren’t a life coach. No one cares or wants to hear this from you.”). But I have found, everytime I share something like this, the response from you all has been incredible. It makes me realize that the stuff that makes me a little uncomfortable is the stuff that I need to be sharing. It’s terrifying because I don’t feel like an expert – I would rather share about email marketing or Instagram tips or tactical advice you could implement right now. But, this is the stuff that keeps coming up and that has changed my life. So I know it’s important to share, even if it is scary and where the imposter syndrome keeps coming in.
Through all of this, I have realized that imposter syndrome is there for other people too, so it needs to be talked about it. But we can figure out better ways to deal with it! Consider this your permission: This is your chance to do whatever it is that you want to be doing, whether it is simply showing up on your Instagram stories more often, or something bigger like investing in something for business to take it a step further. You are an expert. You can do big things. You just need to learn how to deal with your ego and these limiting beliefs – which are totally just in your head.
Here’s a Little Secret
I’d like to let you in on a little secret: we’re all just faking it. We are only human and trying to do the best we can. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we succeed. And all of that is perfectly okay. The magic is in doing it anyways – showing up even when you are uncomfortable and pushing yourself just a little bit more every single day. You’ll discover doing those hard things is so much bigger than your insecurities, and that is what I want for you all!
No one has it all figured out; we’re just doing the best we can. You have to want to make these changes, but you can absolutely do it! Confidence is often something we have to work on it – it will take time, but it’s so worth it.