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Impostor Syndrome: The monster in your head

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

We've all felt it: you're working on something new. It may be a job interview, or a creative project, or a new role at work. You're excited, but there's a nagging voice in the back of your head.

It whispers in your ear -- quietly at first, then louder and louder until it's all you can hear.

Maybe you're not good enough. Maybe you're a fraud. Maybe you don't deserve this. What's worse -- maybe everyone else already knows.

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which a person doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. It's a monster that lives in your head, whispering lies and sowing doubt.

Impostor syndrome is a common experience, especially among people who do creative work, are in high-pressure roles, or are in a new environment. It can be debilitating, holding you back from taking risks or pursuing new opportunities.

We all feel imposter syndrome at some point. That nagging doubt that we're not good enough, despite evidence to the contrary. It's a universal experience that transcends industries and roles.

Imposter syndrome comes and goes, often rearing its head during times of growth or new challenges. In many ways, it's a sign that you're pushing your boundaries and stepping into new territory. It's both a curse and a signal of your ambition.

Head down, power through

Friends, I feel it too.

It is a monster I am always beating back. My latest hit of imposter syndrome centers around a YouTube video I filmed and edited but never released. There's just something keeping me from hitting publish.

Frustratingly, some of getting over imposter syndrome is just... getting over it. It's about recognizing that feeling this way is normal and pushing through the discomfort. It's a fun consequence of being human, and it's a sign that you're growing and challenging yourself.

3 simple steps to beat the monster

  1. Recognize it: The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is recognizing it for what it is -- a psychological pattern, not a reflection of reality. When you feel that doubt creeping in, take a step back and remind yourself that it's just your brain playing tricks on you.

  2. Talk about it: Imposter syndrome thrives in silence. When you keep those feelings bottled up, it will grow and fester. Talk to a friend, a mentor, or a therapist about what you're feeling. You'll be surprised at how common this experience is and how much better you'll feel when you share it with someone else.

  3. Take action: The best way to beat imposter syndrome is to take action. Do the thing that scares you. Apply for the job, start the project, hit publish on that video. The more you push through the discomfort, the easier it becomes.

(Don't just take my word for it: Cleveland Clinic, Psychology Today, and BetterUp all have great, science-based advice on overcoming imposter syndrome.)

Go do it

One of the greatest gifts this newsletter has given me is the opportunity to meet and talk to so many people who are in the early days of their journey. Tiny Improvements readers include creators, developers, and startup founders (and more) who all share a common thread: we're pushing ourselves to grow, to learn, and to create.

Overwhelmingly, I feel like so many of the people I talk to are teetering on the very edge of doing the thing they want to do. Consider this your sign to hit the publish button: you've waited long enough, and you'll only get better if you do the thing.

Oh, and by the way - I hit publish this morning.

The push you need to get started

My favorite blog post of all time is Chris Coyier's There is no bar. It's true -- when you're at the wheel as a creator, there is no bar to clear. You set the bar by doing the work, and the only way to get better is to keep doing it.

You may also enjoy my previous newsletter There's no right way to do it - a reminder that a change in perspective can be the push you need.

I've also writren a treatise on The trick to publishing online. You'll be surprised how simple it is.

Show us your songs

Send me your projects

I want to see what you're working on! Hit me up on Threads @irreverentmike, and send me a link to your latest project, article, video, whatever it is - I'd love to give your work a signal boost by sharing it with my network.

Go on, show me what you've got!

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Impostor Syndrome: The monster in your head

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

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