Put up your hand if you ever feel like a fraud. A fake? A phoney? A pretender? Me too. Even in the middle of some (relative) success, I have often felt not ‘something’ enough. Not smart enough. Qualified enough. Experienced enough. Lean enough. Young enough. Old enough. Funny enough. Academic enough.
In short; not good enough.
A Literary Fraud
Despite being a successful(ish) blogger with lots of subscribers and a large readership, I have often felt like a literary fraud. A fake writer. A bloke who writes a lot but isn’t really a writer. After all, who starts a sentence with and or but? And, more importantly, who writes a book with the ‘F’ word on the cover? Surely a real writer wouldn’t do that? So, why does a guy who has written books, written for numerous magazines and newspapers and gets regular positive feedback about his writing doubt himself as a writer? Because (1) self-doubt doesn’t need to make sense (it’s not logical) and (2) it doesn’t discriminate.
The funny thing is, I often know one thing (intellectually) while feeling something else (emotionally). Been there? For example, even though I’ve presented to hundreds (maybe thousands) of audiences over the last twenty-five years, there are still times when I feel like a fraud walking onto the stage. Even though I’m represented by numerous speaking agencies (and I make them good money) and even though I know for a fact that I have the knowledge, skills and experience to get the job done, I somehow find a way to feel inadequate. Unqualified. Unworthy. Not enough.
As I said, self-doubt doesn’t always make sense.
The “I’m Not Good Enough” Disease
Today, I had a lengthy phone call with a friend who has a successful business in another state of Australia. She is bubbly, positive, inspiring, likable and fun to be around. She educates and motivates people towards their best lives. Outwardly, she’s a picture of confidence, control and calm. And, she’s fantastic at her job. Inwardly, she has an ongoing battle with the “I’m not good enough” disease.
Everyone thinks she’s great, except her.
Interestingly, the fact that people think she’s so amazing makes her feel even worse because in the middle of all their respect, gratitude and adoration, she feels like she’s constantly hiding the real her. You know: the crappy, stupid, talentless her. The fake that they don’t really know. Sad huh?
And very common.
Not Weird, Normal
Today, I’m here to tell you that the self-doubt you feel is normal. The feeling of being a fake is normal. Making mistakes is normal. Being flawed is normal. And, being criticised is normal (I should know). While I receive lots of positive feedback via this site, I also receive at least one scathing email each day telling me what a %$#*% I am. If, from today, I only wrote a post on my criticism-free days, this would be the last thing you would ever read here.
So, in the middle of our self-doubt, the challenge for you and me is to recognise those feelings for what they are and what they aren’t. What they are, is feelings. Not facts. They are negative emotions. Limiting beliefs. One of the many manifestations of fear. What they aren’t, is you. Your potential. Your possibilities.
It’s our job (me and you, that is) to ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’. It’s our job to not let those feelings determine our behaviours, sabotage our potential or waste any more of our precious time. If I were to wait until I had no issues, no flaws and no self-doubt, I’d never do anything, write anything, create anything or learn anything because fear would be running my life.
Mistakes = Lessons
Personally, I’d rather make a few mistakes, fall down a few times and look like a dick sometimes than be controlled by, or limited by, fear. The more mistakes I make, the more I’m having a go, the more I’m learning and the more I’m growing. Self-doubt is part of the human condition. It does not make you (or me) a freak. Acknowledge it for what it is (a lying, disempowering thief) and then do what needs to be done. Let go of your ego. Face your fears. Get uncomfortable.
And occasionally, be prepared to look like a dick.