Last Updated on February 11, 2022 by Kelly Thoreson
Hey, blogger, you feelin’ like a fraud?
Yeah, me too.
But … Why?
Well friend, I had the same question and took a deep ass dive into the science of Imposter Syndrome for the both of us. A
fter much research, I’ve come to a final conclusion: our Imposter Syndrome DOESN’T FUCKIN’ MATTER.
There, I said it.
I can’t wait to tell you all about it so you can spend less time feeling like you don’t belong here and more time building your blogging empire!
Watch: Imposter Syndrome & Blogging
Imposter Syndrome & Blogging Video Transcript
I think about imposter syndrome a lot.
And I decided to kind of dig into the science of it.
Like why, like what, what evolutionary purpose could it possibly be serving? I found some really interesting things and I wanna share them with you guys.
But, I also came to the conclusion that it doesn’t matter. Let’s talk about all the, like people that we, why regard as great beyond reproach that not only admit they feel imposter syndrome, but they also like openly talk about it.
And one of the ones that had some of the most interesting things, I think to say about it is Maya Angelou, right? She published 11 books, she won three pulitzer prizes and she was still worried that she would be found out.
Viola Davis, Michelle Obama, Oprah… Tom Hanks worries that he, people are going to discover he’s a fraud.
He says that he’ll be worried that he has to go do this thing and that he’s not going to be able to perform to the ability that people think he should be able to.
And then that means people are going to find out he’s a fake and he’s gonna have to fake it through it. And if he does that, there’s a chance he might find out. And if he gets found out, then it’s doomsday.
Now, isn’t that interesting because what I’m noticing about imposter syndrome is that it is all in these black and white frames of mind. Right?
We’re all or nothing. It’s not that he, he thinks like, oh, I’m gonna have to fake it through it. And if I’m having a bad day, people are gonna be like, huh, Tom’s a little off today. No, it’s gonna be the end of my career.
That’s what he’s thinking, Tom Hanks, you guys. And isn’t that what we’re thinking like when imposter sender is really like, has the microphone in our head, we’re like, oh shoot, they’re gonna find us out.
You know, my blogging business is gonna implode. And, and all the repercussions that means right. It turns out that I can’t actually make this blogging thing work.
Just like everybody said you know, all that money I’m making for my blog is gonna go away. I’m gonna go have to go back to my nine to five job and, or I’m gonna be stuck in my nine to five job forever.
Right? We make, we make our imposter syndrome mean a ton of really huge consequences. And it’s really scary.
Another thing, John Steinbeck, he said, I’m not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and everyone else. John Steinbeck. Okay. Albert Einstein described himself as an involuntary swindler.
He just pulled the wool over everybody’s eye. The next time you are imposter syndrome in yourself, I want you to think about how Maya Angelou also thought that she was a fraud and would be found out and how ridiculous that sounds.
When I was a kid, I failed a geography test and I’d never failed a test before in elementary school. And I ran out the room crying, cuz I thought it meant I failed fourth grade.
And now looking back on it, we’re like, oh fourth grade Kelly. That’s not how it works. That’s what we’re doing. Every time we are catastrophizing with our imposter syndrome in our head, we’re a fraud.
They’re gonna find out my business is gonna implode, right?
That’s the same thing as Kelly, getting enough on our fourth grade geography test and thinking it meant she was failing the fourth grade. It is just as silly people who study the imposter syndrome for a living.
They actually call it the imposter phenomenon. And that’s because we don’t entirely understand why it happens, but they have some theories. And one of them is that it creates our imposter syndrome.
Our inner critic creates a dissonance in our head when somebody gives us praise.
So somebody tells me you’re really great at writing blog post headlines.
I wish I could write blog post headlines like you. And in my head, I’m flashing back to all of my hundreds of super, super crap headlines that I wrote as a brand new blogger, but they don’t see that.
And so there’s this dissonance in our head and it happens so fast that we don’t even realize it’s happening.
We just realize that all of a sudden we feel like a fraud, right?
We just realize that we have a bad feeling. All of a sudden, like we’re gonna be found out.
So it’s creating these eating thoughts in our head about what we’re being told or even what we’re being presented evidence with, right? Like, let’s go back to Miley Angelou. She had three Politzer prizes.
She’s being presented with evidence that she is great at her craft, but in her head, she’s flashing back to all the rough drafts, all the really rough, rough drafts, all the rough drafts that ended up in the garbage can because they were so bad.
And so researchers think that this is where the imposter phenomenon comes from.
These two opposing thoughts. We’re trying to hold in our head. We know we know what’s going on.
We know that we just weren’t born this way and that we had to struggle a lot to get here.
And we had to do a lot of practice and we had to do a lot of not being great to get to the point where this person’s telling us we’re great.
And it causes this clash in our head. And the result is imposter syndrome.
I don’t know if that helps you. It helps me to understand what is actually going on up that creates this. Furthermore, they found that nobody is immune.
Everyone has this happening except for maybe, sociopaths and, and psychopaths you know, except for robots.
But what they did find is that the effects on people were different.
And I give you guys three guesses who wasn’t affected and it rhymes with sch white, White men.
It’s not to say they’re not affected at all. Of course they are. It’s not to say that they don’t get it.
Of course, they do, but disproportionately it doesn’t affect the rest of their life. They still feel it.
But somehow it doesn’t affect the rest of their life.
And in particular, they did on college students and they found that everyone experienced this imposter phenomena, but disproportionately white men were, their GPA was not affected by it.
And you know, that’s not to say anything. It just is what it is.
Right. And unsurprisingly, the more marginalized you get as a population, the higher, the correlation of effect goes up. So women are more affected by it affected like everybody experiences it, but the actual effects, like having a negative effect on your life, women, and then, you know, people of color, traditionally marginalized societies.
The further down in scope, you go, the more marginalized you get, they’ve seen a correlation, the higher effect it has in their life implications are different for men and women.
It’s linked in clear ways to their GPA. And, and I don’t know if you guys have ever heard of stereotype threat, do you guys know about stereotype threat?
So it’s where individuals are aware of stereotypes and you don’t believe them, but the awareness of them disrupts your performance.
So it’s kind of like when I answer the phone at work and I’m using my nice receptionist voice, right? This is Kelly, how can I help you?
And I get a guy on the phone that I know thinks I’m just some dumb woman with weak arms and is insisting that he talks to a man because you know, I can’t understand repair.
That’s playing in my head and it’s affecting my performance, right?
It’s really hard to not let it it’s there.
And so, you know, they’re thinking that this stereotype threat and the imposter syndrome play hand in hand and what stereotype threat are we all worried about as bloggers?
Every single one of us that blogging is dead. That blogging’s not a real job that you can’t make any money blogging, all this crap that we’ve heard on the periphery, or maybe even been told a lot of family members try to talk bloggers out of going all in on their blog because they don’t, they’re trying to protect them. Right.
They don’t get how it can work. I feel like the reason we are so inundated with this imposter phenomenon in the blogging world is because we have these stereotypes playing in our head on loud speaker, that blogging can’t make you money blogging.
Isn’t a real job that blogging is dead, whatever it is, we have these stereotypes threats playing in our head all the time.
And then when somebody tells us, Hey, you’re doing a really great job.
And we flash back to all the times, we weren’t doing a great job and we have this clash of competing thoughts in our head. Suddenly we just know, we feel like crap, right?
We’re not consciously aware that all of that is happening, but it is. And suddenly we feel really like it it’s really deflating, right?
Like you guys tell me in the chat, how do you feel when the inner critic has the microphone?
And, and it’s telling you, you’re not good enough that you’re an imposter, that you’re a fraud that they’re, you’re gonna be found out.
It makes me feel like giving up and not necessarily giving up on my blog entirely, but giving up on whatever task I’m doing right then because that task is causing those feelings. And I wanna get away from those feelings.
Another thing to keep in mind is the way we talk to ourselves, like say things to ourselves that we would never ever say to even like an acquaintance, let alone a good friend.
The way we talk to ourselves is really harsh.
So when you are being super harsh on yourself, I would ask yourself if you would say that to even an acquaintance, let alone your best friend.
And another part of the problem with imposter syndrome or post phenomenon being so prevalent in blogging communities is that studies have shown that competitive environments are actually incubators for these feelings. And it’s not even competitive outwardly, which blogging kind of is it’s signs everywhere that people are more accomplished than you, which blogging death is.
Somebody said it yesterday. Roe, I think it was you in yesterday’s Livestream. You talked about how you will see people popping into Facebook groups and saying how they’ve hit 10 K per month in their first four months and your years in and still well below that.
Right? So we have these outward signs all around us that we’re not where we’re supposed to be.
And that’s an incubator. That’s a breeding environment for imposter syndrome.
And one thing that one of the leading researchers in the imposter phenomenon is a guy named Kevin Coley.
He’s a professor are in Texas and he recommends looking at evidence that you’re not actually a fraud every day.
And if your job doesn’t provide outward evidence, he recommends keeping a work diary of your successes. So document your successes as they come up, because when your imposter syndrome has the microphone, you’re not gonna be able to remember.
You’re not gonna be able to refute it with the evidence that you know is in there somewhere. It’s gonna be too loud. So he recommends keeping a little work diary and you could just make it a Google doc, right?
Could be like your emergency kit break glass.
When imposter syndrome is out of control, list out all of your accomplishments in there, no matter how small.
And he says that he personally uses this daily for like five to 10 minutes, just to remind himself he’s not a fraud.
And then when we have a bad day and we a misstep, like let’s keep in mind that it does not mean the end of the world. It does not mean that everyone was right.
And we’re actually a fraud.
And Michelle Obama actually says that when she’s really suffering from imposter syndrome, she just puts her head down and works harder and lets the work speak for herself.
And this is kind of, I am going with the thought that our imposter syndrome actually doesn’t matter. We all just stop trying to get rid of it and focus on doing the thing.
Anyway, I’m all for combating your imposter syndrome.
I’m all for keeping your work journal with all your successes in it. Keep your kudos file.
So you have evidence that the story you’re telling yourself is not true, but if Michelle Obama, Oprah, Tom Hanks has imposter syndrome.
I really, I mean, I don’t think we’re gonna get rid of it.
And that’s the conclusion I’ve come to. Yes, we should combat it. I don’t think we’re ever gonna get of it.
And I don’t think it matters. Here’s what matters doing the thing.
Anyway, I have come to the conclusion after years of blogging that the greatest predictor of success is somebody’s ability to put their head down and focus on one thing until it’s done.
So can we put our posture imposter syndrome on a shelf and just do the thing way. If it’s not gonna go away, we can combat it and get it to quiet down a little bit, but take it along with us on the ride and just do the thing anyway, because like I said, my initial instinct is to run away.
So when I start feeling imposter syndrome, I have that dissonance in my head and I don’t really realize all synapses that are firing to make me feel bad. I just know that I am having a bad day.
I’m not on top of my riding game. And suddenly I feel like an imposter and I feel really crappy inside. And I wanna get away from this feeling.
What happens if I give in every time and I run away from that feeling, I’m never gonna get any writing done. I’m never gonna get the thing done.
And what if, what, what if the difference between bloggers who make it and bloggers who don’t is just the ability to grit through it and get the thing done anyway.
And Viola Davis actually said something really interesting. She says her imposter syndrome keeps her humble and it allows her to not rest on her Laurel.
So it might not be that we have imposter syndrome in spite of our accomplishments, but our imposter syndrome actually pushes us to get those accomplishments.
Remember James Wedmore says, why is this happening for me? Not why is this happening to me? So maybe our imposter syndrome is there to make us better.
And yeah, it feels like crap when it really has the microphone, but maybe we can reframe it in a, how is this serving me manner, right? Because it keeps us humble. It pushes us to keep striving and refining our craft and being better.
I hope that helps you all understand where your imposter syndrome, your imposter phenomenon is coming from. And you know, if Oprah can feel like an imposter, maybe we should just give ourselves to feel like an imposter too, and just do it anyway.
Do the thing- whatever it is that you’ve been wanting to do. And what you haven’t been doing yet, you need to do the thing already.
All right, friends. I love you so much.
We ALL feel like imposters. It’s just the weird-ass way our brains work.
But none of that matters.
What matters, and what will make or break you as a blogger, is your ability to do the damn thing anyway.
To put your blinders on and FOCUS on one thing until it is D-O-N-E … done.
If me and my squirrel-brain can do it, you can too, I pinky-swear!
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