Read this if you've ever felt like a fraud
I want to talk about something today that we don’t really like to talk about, or admit. We all feel like frauds.
Who am I to be doing this?
Why should someone pay me attention/money to do this?
What if they find out that I feel like a mess and discover I’m a massive fraud?
Who do you think you are to do this? What makes you qualify to have a voice on this?
How long is it going to be until someone finds out, and then I’m done. I’m going to lose it all.
What if my boss/friend/client going to find out they chose the wrong person?
I’m not an expert!
I’ve had these thoughts, you’ve had these thoughts, and even John Green feels like a fraud and like he doesn’t know how to write a novel.
Sometimes it feels like a ‘guess what celebrity I am’ post it note stuck on your forehead that you’re desperately trying to hide.
(You can breathe a huge sigh of relief that you’re not alone now!)
And I think there’s a good reason many of us feel like frauds.
It comes from a place of good intention.
We’re mission driven, we want to help people, and our inner perfectionists want us to do the The Best Job Ever.
We’re given so many reasons to listen to the voice inside us that tells us we’re not good enough, that when we put something in the world, when we try something, our imposter voice comes out to keep us in check.
Because for so many of us, we don’t want to let people down, we don’t want to be seen as conceited, we don’t want to wave our expertise or our own strengths around like a bra at a Macklemore gig.
Instead, we worry like hell.
We worry that we’re not doing a good job, counter to what anyone else is telling us. We convince ourselves that the people who support us and encourage us don’t know our secret; the full story - the one where we’re a MASSIVE IMPOSTER.
(And sometimes, when things get really shitty, we can convince ourselves that people don’t mean their compliments, they’re doing it just to make us feel good, or because they pity us. Hello, crippling self-doubt!)
We all have our own fraud stories. Every single one of us. We’ve all had those thoughts, and we’ve all unintentionally and sometimes intentionally kept ourselves back because we feel like a massive fraud.
My own fraud story
When I started That Hummingbird Life, it was primarily about recovering from burnout and self care. And I used to beat myself up so much about getting burnt out. Fucking hell did I give myself a hard time when I myself got burnt out.
When I first started, I’d just recovered from a couple of serious burnout episodes and had found things that helped me.
For the first time in my life, I saw the value in taking time for myself, the value in putting myself on my priority list, and I started to say no to things, do things that made my heart sing and generally remember that I am valued and I actually matter.
And I learned SO much from that process. It was a complicated, messy, human process and I shared a lot of it. I wanted to share my journey, share things I found invaluable, and share my struggle.
But it turns out it takes longer than a couple of years to un-do learned behaviours we’ve been repeating over and over again our entire lives (help everyone, say yes, just keep going, practice makes perfect).
So I would still burnout. But there was a difference. It wasn’t so hard, and it didn’t take me as long to bounce back. Each time was getting quicker, because I’d built resilience and tools that I know worked for me to help me deal with it.
But at the time, I wasn’t focusing on how I was doing. All I could feel when I did burnout was how much of a fraud I was, and I felt guilty. I thought it made me a hypocrite.
I thought I was an absolute fraud. And a failure.
The thought that kept going round in my head was who am I to think that I could help other people, if I still get trapped in the burnout cycle and struggle with self care.
And it really chipped at my confidence. I found it harder to blog and share things that had helped me because I felt like I wasn’t doing it 100% right myself.
I found it harder to blog and stopped offering coaching completely, even though I know I helped many people because of my experience and because I was good at what I did.
With The Couragemakers Podcast, the same familiar thoughts came back to me.
But something changed.
At some point down the line, I figured that everyone has these feelings, and they’re a safety mechanism to keep us in our comfort zones, and to keep us from thinking we’ve got ‘too big for our boots’.
That doesn’t mean to say I never feel like a fraud anymore. Far from it!
I even thought who am I to be writing about fraud? Several times through writing this.
If you’ve got passionate bones in your body, if you genuinely want to help people and put good shit in the world, you’re going to feel like a fraud at some point.
Not necessarily all the time, maybe it’s just fleeting. But we all feel it.
No matter what your work, your passion project - whatever it is you’re putting in the world - is, feeling like a fraud is a part of it.
But being human is even more a fundamental part of it.
If you’re doing something because you experienced it and found something that works for you and want to share it, then that is a completely valid way of helping people. (And it’s also worth remembering that we write what we most need to hear; we work on the things that heal us.)
Experience is a completely valid place to create from.
And experiences are never simple. There’s never a point A or a point B. There’s a couple of salsa steps forward then sliding backwards on your arse.
The fraud is the person who stands there and says they no have zero problems.
The fraud is the confidence coach who tells you they are now 110% completely happy in themselves, that they can establish effective boundaries for every single relationship they have and no longer struggle with self doubt, whatesoever anymore.
The fraud is the person who stands up with the fairy godmother transformation and preaches that they’ve completely figured it out and they don’t struggle anymore.
The fraud is the person that promises you unrealistic fantasies that they pass off as real life.
The fraud is the person that tells you their life used to be awful but now it’s the most amazing fucking thing they could ever fucking imagine.
The fraud is NOT YOU.
You feel like a fraud because we all do.
Because you care.
Because you know deep down you have something of immense value to add to the world, but your first instinct is to keep you safe (in the comfort zone).
You are anything, but alone.