In one of his many (many) motivational videos, the effervescent Gary Vee tells one inquisitor that there’s no such thing as imposter syndrome. That it’s just a fancy way of saying we’re feeling insecure, an excuse for not really trying things, trying at life!
I’ve listened to a lot of Gary’s insights while building LNDM and this one stood out to me because, confession time, I have huge imposter syndrome around what I’m doing.
Am I supposed to tell you this? I don’t think so. Instead I think I’m supposed to keep it to myself, put on a fabulous display of competence, confidence and brilliance, and in the face of any challenge, ‘fake it till I make it’ (a mantra I used to live by).
But do you know where else I felt imposter syndrome – or insecurities, or whatever you want to call it?
It was when I first decided to cut back on my drinking and became sober curious.
In my youth I, like many people, thought that anyone who didn’t drink, and ‘party’, was either a boring old fuddy-duddy, knocked up or in recovery.
As I matured, I began to see people around me who drank less, or not at all, and look upon them with admiration as they quietly and confidently regaled with tales of a life more fulfilling and fulfilled. Of time well spent with a carefully curated selected of people with whom they were able to give and receive love, support, fun and inspiration in the most authentic ways.
And I didn’t think that could be me. I never thought that could be me.
That I could find joy, happiness and purpose in a life without booze. Afterall, what would it mean if I put all the effort into cutting back on my drinking only to find out that I was as dull and uninspired as I feared but without the buffer of a good drink in my hand to shield me from my reality.
Turns out that when you cut back the drinking those insecurities don’t actually go away. Sorry.
But what has happened is that I’ve developed the ability to recognise them, accept them as part of who I am, and ultimately to move them aside while I try my damnedest to be the version of me, I always wanted to but was too hampered by my imposter syndrome to explore.
Does that sound a little too easy? A little PMA (positive-mental attitude, remember when that was the buzz-word) life-coaching mantra-esque? Well how about a real-life example…
I spent several years in my last professional role being told by my bosses that while I had many other skills, that creativity just wasn’t one of them. When I had to create sales copy for my department or any writing for that matter, my work was vetted by someone else who ceaselessly stripped away any iota of personality and creativity I had injected (wonder what that does to a person’s self-confidence). When time came for creative input, my opinion was always sought last if ever at all, and my ideas were never given more than a passing, cursory head nod.
When I finally decided to launch Low No Drinker Magazine then, you can imagine the mammoth internal battle that I went through trying to convince myself that I had the creative wherewithal to succeed.
Imagine if I had let those excuses stop me from pursuing my passion. If I had let those insecurities planted by other people (and they usually largely do some from other people) impact my ability to see this through to fruition.
Do I still have imposter syndrome? Hell yes! Every day I speak to people, or see the work they produce, or even look at the aesthetic of other people’s feeds and I am flooded with waves of feeling like I don’t belong.
But if you’re anything like me and you live inside these feelings too, I beseech you to ride those waves until they ebb along shoreline of possibility.
To embrace your feelings of self-doubt and insecurity and see that life beyond a permanent cycle of drunkenness and hangovers, a life where you give yourself the chance to do what you’ve always feared you were incapable of, can be scary as hell, but that there is no greater feeling than b*tch slapping that fear in the face and doing it anyway.
Me 'winning' at life crossing the line of Tough Mudder in 2022 - another thing I never thought I could achieve!