Impostor syndrome is that dinner guest that always shows up uninvited. Or comes out with you for drinks and leaves his wallet at home. He’d always show up when you’re supposed to be having a good time and then ruin the entire experience for you.
Many moments during my professional career here in Dublin, I always had this feeling that I was a fraud, and that I would get exposed for my incompetence one day. And everything would come crashing down.
I first experienced impostor syndrome during my 2 year stint as a fund accountant. It didn’t matter how much I did right. I always felt like I was one statement away from saying the wrong thing in a meeting and then getting exposed. I always felt like I was one income statement away from putting in the wrong figures and making myself look foolish to my peers.
My impostor syndrome was such that I would focus so much energy on my small mistakes, and completely disregard every other piece of work I did really well – just because I wanted to look good in front of my peers and superiors. It also did not help that I was one of the few black workers in the building. So a fuck up would make me stand out even more, and I was overly cautious because of that. Back then, it was hard to convince me that this was all in my head. And in a less dramatic way, my impostor syndrome still affects me today as a copywriter.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Simply put, impostor syndrome is defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud, even if you’re not. You don’t believe in yourself because you can’t internalise you achievements.
Funny enough, I never experienced the slightest bit of impostor syndrome while working in restaurant kitchens (6 years). As both a dishwasher and a commis chef. But I think that was because I never had any real ambition to remain in that industry, or to climb the ranks. As much as I enjoyed the kitchen environment, I always knew I was only biding my time until I found something I was truly passionate about. That passion turned out to be writing.
I started writing copy part-time in December 2019, with a primary focus in Dublin, Ireland. Right now, I only have one main client who outsources copywriting work to me regularly. This is a good source of steady side income for me at the moment, as I have a full time-job I focus on. But the REAL reason I have kept to this one client is
simply because I don’t think I deserve to reach out to more potential clients. And I don’t think I still have what it takes to take on more high-level prospects.
But it was only in August 2021 that I had the confidence to raise my rates slightly. And when I nervously spoke with my client to discuss my new rates, he didn’t break a sweat and even hinted that I should be charging more for my services. He also advised me to seriously think about scaling if need be. And that he is completely happy with paying the new rates.
I have a great relationship with this guy, so I will honour the commitment to the rates I proposed. But that meeting alone has since been a revelation.
That I’m actually good at what I do, and I can charge a LOT more. So I have since revised my price list by multiplying all prices 4X. And I have also resumed researching my list of potential cold-email clients I need to reach out to. I have spent a lot of time self-studying and practising my art. And I owe it to myself to have confidence in it and to trust it.
Granted, this alone will not completely get rid of my impostor syndrome just yet. And I still need to keep writing and keep studying. I cannot speak for you, but damn
the heavens if this isn’t an incredible step in the right direction for me.
As FilthyRichWriter put it, ‘If you wait for yourself to FEEL ready or FEEL like a master or FEEL confident, you will literally be waiting forever because those feelings don’t just show up on their own. They show up as byproducts of taking the uncomfortable, maybe even kind of scary, action.’
If you feel you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, remember that you’re not the only one. Even seasoned experts still suffer from this. And many artists still get stage fright before they get on stage. But if you give in to Impostor Syndrome, you might become your own worst enemy. This may sound cliché, but sometimes you just need to say ‘Fuck it’, and take that leap of faith.
Now I want to hear your story.
Have you been crippled by Impostor Syndrome? How did you overcome it? Or rather, how are you handling it?
Let me know in the comments below.
Thank you. X