Impostor syndrome, the only two words in the English language that have plagued me more than
phenomenan… phenomanan… phenomenon and Wed-nes-day!
Luckily, I know I am not alone in suffering from this pesky little voice in the back of my mind. Impostor syndrome has bothered some of the greatest creators I know. I’m aware that it has nothing to do with my skills or talents. But then again, who am I to even associate myself with these people that actually have talent. See! There it goes again! You know what? Fuck impostor syndrome!
While I am going to dive into what impostor syndrome is, this is not a “How to get over impostor syndrome” tutorial. I’m a publicist, not a psychologist. It’s merely a way to explain it away and to keep doing what you are doing because you are, in fact, awesome.
Why do our brains like to make us feel bad?
Research on the topic claims that negative events affect us more than positive ones. We remember them better (especially at 3 AM), and they play a more formative role in our lives. Tough goodbyes, accidents, school bullies, financial losses and YouTube comments hit our brains differently and tend to overtake the more positive experiences.
The brain is designed to prioritize negative experiences over positive ones, but it does so to protect you! It all goes back to good ol’ survival instincts. In the old caveman days, positive experiences were great but not as important as negative ones. Finding a sweet piece of fruit might have made for a good day, but finding out a bear’s teeth were sharp was a more important learning experience!
Over time, our brains figured out that learning from bad experiences was key to our survival and decided to get annoyingly good at it!
The alarm bell of your brain, the amygdala—not the irritating boss in Bloodborne, but the two little almond-shaped regions on either side of your head—uses about two-thirds of its neurons to look for bad news. It’s “designed” to skew negative. Once it sounds the alarm, negative events and experiences are quickly stored in memory—in contrast to positive events and experiences, which usually need to be held in awareness for a dozen or more seconds to transfer from short-term memory buffers to long-term storage.
Screw Johnny Big_Wang_420
So, let’s take this back to you in 2020. You’re uploading episode 27 of the podcast you put a lot of effort into, but you feel as if it isn’t good enough to be mentioned in the same breath as that other podcast you have listened to for years.
Don’t worry. You’re doing great!
The self doubt you are feeling is just the result of your brain trying to protect you from bear teeth, but instead of bear teeth it’s Johnny_Big_Wang_420, who left you a shitty comment last week. However, unlike bear teeth, that jerk’s snarky comment isn’t going to tear your limbs off. It’s not going to harm you at all. Seriously, screw that guy. He probably hasn’t created anything in his whole damn life.
That feeling of not belonging when mingling with other “more successful” creators? They have dealt with all the other Johnny_Big_Wangs out there, and he made them feel like shit too. You are in the same room as all the people you have looked up to for years because YOU made the effort to create and find an audience for yourself. No wang, big or small, can take that away from you.
Go out there, entertain those who are giving you their time, and never stop improving. Don’t see your peers as unattainable goals; look at the paths they have blazed before you, and learn from their struggles, relish in their mentorship when they offer it. Also don’t forget to look over your shoulder once in a while and take note of those coming behind you. You are already an inspiration to them.
You have already earned your spot. Fuck impostor syndrome, and go spell phenomenon correctly on a Wednesday, because you’re awesome!