A few months ago I was asked to write a blog post for a start up business website that really interested me. Initially I was really excited. I can do that, I’ve been writing blog posts for over 10 years. I’ve got this! I was excited about the new business and there was so much I could write about I was up for the challenge…but then it happened. As I was going about my every day tasks, mulling it over, somewhere between taking the laundry out of the machine and putting the dinner in the oven, my thoughts turned from excitement to doubt. Am I good enough to write something for this website? What if they hated what I wrote? What if they thought I was a fraud? What if, what if, what if?
For as long as I can remember I’ve struggled with impostor syndrome. For example, while I was at college I studied Fashion, as part of our course I had to make a corset. I really struggled with it and the way it looked and was convinced it was rubbish and not worthy of the marks it received. I just wasn’t good enough to be on the course, what was I doing? There was a lot of self-sabotage over the year and I ended up failing the course. Years later I came across a photo of the corset I had made (the actual corset had been thrown in the bin in a fit of rage many years ago!). I was amazed at how good it was! Had I really made that? It looked so professional!
A few years later, after I was married but before I started having children of my own, I worked as a childminder. Soon after securing my first clients, the worries and doubts entered my head. I worried the parents didn’t think I was good enough at my job because I didn’t have children of my own, I felt I wasn’t good enough at my job, how could I look after other peoples children when I had no children of my own! Then I went on to worry I didn’t take the kids out enough, I took the kids out too much, my activities weren’t interesting enough, if I was better at my job that child wouldn’t have thrown a tantrum in the middle of soft play.
Later when my husband and I relocated and childminding wasn’t an option for me, I tapped into another talent of mine and I started a business making and selling occasion cakes. To begin with I loved it, the orders were rolling in and I loved creating in the kitchen, but before long those doubts crept in once again. What if my customers are disappointed with their cake? What if they secretly hated the cake? I didn’t feel good enough to be selling cakes, I stopped putting myself forward for jobs because i couldn’t work out why any one would ask me to make their cake. I didn’t feel I had enough knowledge or enough skill to be running this business.
The thoughts plagued me when I started having children of my own too, particularly when we realised my second child had Autism and again on finding out my youngest possibly has epilepsy. Can I really do this? Surely they would be better off with someone else who has more knowledge of these issues. As a mother I felt totally and completely out of my depth, I was drowning in a sea of self doubt and inadequacy.
I’ve come to discover that impostor syndrome and self-doubt for me is just a fact of life, I don’t think I will ever fully get over it and it will always be there, but it’s what I do with those thoughts and feelings that counts. I realised there are 2 paths I can take. The first leads me to letting those thoughts take over, giving up whenever they enter my head and as a result I never quite reach my potential and, ultimately, I’m never fully happy. I think I’ve spent most of my life on this path. I’ve been content on this path for many years, and as a result I no longer have my cake business, my children have never had a beautifully decorated cake for their birthdays, I have never made a dress or a skirt for my daughters like my mum used to, and tragically I stopped blogging and stopped vlogging. I stopped sharing my thoughts and my voice with the world. This isn’t the path that I want to be on any longer.
Recently I saw a video from Kristina Kuzmic (aka The Truth Bomb Mom, by the way, I actually LOVE her!) and she was challenging a group of women to take all those negative thoughts they have about themselves and say them to photos of their younger selves. It was an impossible task and without fail, no one was able to do it. I actually tried it and realised that actually I couldn’t hurt that sweet innocent young girl. So I figured it’s about time I chose the second path. The path where I hear those thoughts, feel the fear and the inadequacy, feel like an impostor in my life and replace them with positive ones. As women we are always so hard on ourselves, we never give ourselves the recognition we deserve and rarely take credit for our successes. So the Next time negative thoughts creep in, or impostor syndrome strikes I’ll be pushing those thoughts away and replacing them with some positive ones. I will imagine I am talking to my 6 year old self. I will tell myself that I am worth it, I do deserve it and I am good enough.