What gives you the right to teach, or what qualifies you to share information or knowledge on a particular topic or skill? This is a legitimate concern for people who are trying to build and audience and have their work recognised, and become a leader or figure in their industry. This is called imposter syndrome. Where you feel like an imposter while pursuing or sharing something.
Imposter Syndrome is a feeling of inadequacy, that you are not good enough to do what you do regardless of your skill level or experience at something. Self doubt is something that we feel when we realise that there are so many others out there doing what you do and do it at a larger level with more experience, a greater skill level, and a more expansive audience. If you have value to offer, or interesting views, experience and knowledge of your passion or skill, share this with others.
Let me start by saying, you’re never going to know everything about your trade, and even if you think you do, you don’t. There is always something new, something you haven’t tested, or some scenario you haven’t learned or discovered in your passion, skill, trade etc.
People with Imposter Syndrome are afraid of somebody who has been doing it longer calling you out on it when you are just starting, or even when you have been doing it for a while. A fear of being wrong about something and committing to it even though you know it to be correct and to have worked for you in the past.
No to be confused with the feeling of inexperience, which is something completely different to imposter syndrome. If you don’t know that much about a topic, or have experienced many scenarios in a skill or pursuit, then you shouldn’t be sharing it. Because what happens then is that someone asks you about it and then you can’t hide behind the anonymity of having experienced it, because you haven’t and you won’t be able to recall your experience with it to share with that person. This is how you become exposed as something you are not, by sharing something that you have genuinely not experienced before. Imposter Syndrome is at the opposite end of this scale. It’s the fear that you will be exposed in this manner, even though you have the skills and have genuine experience in the field or with the trade.
At the beginning, you must realise that you are not going to be the best right from the get-go. If you don’t start, and chronicle your journey, you will never show others where you started from and how you got better over time. Being honest with people you meet and your audience is very important, if you share the things you already know, the things that have worked, or even the things that have not, these are genuine accounts that you have experienced. It could be which lens works best for macro photography, or which brush pen creates this style best. These are experiences that you have had, and even if they didn’t work. You can tell people this, and this is why you should chronicle your growth and start writing about your experiences you have had in your industry. people find value from these topics. How many times have you seen a piece of artwork or a photo online and a follower asks, “What camera do you use?”. People want to know what works best so it mitigates the chances of failure for them when they don’t have as much experience as you with something. They want to get the best results and emulate your success with something.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions in your own industry/skill even when you think it’s an amateur question, for fear that you will be accused of not being perceived as a master or professional at what it is that you do. If you don’t know, then you don’t know, and you’re haven’t come across it before or are just discovering it. By asking the question, you are creating value for others around you who were either a) too shy to ask the question for the same reason, or b) hadn’t thought of that question to ask. You have certain views and circumstances that allow you to process information differently from everyone else. You see things in a different light, so don’t be afraid of asking those questions. You won’t be exposed, you’re creating value.
You have your own views. This alone is valuable to other people on top of having valuable work and knowledge to share. People connect with honestly and authenticity. Don’t be afraid to admit you were wrong about something. Make a conviction to something, something you are passionate about. At the time when something that worked for you later turned out to be wrong. You can let people know by saying you were wrong on this topic, but explain that it worked for you, that you got success from it, and that’s why you believed it to be correct. Turn it into a teaching experience, so people can learn from this in the future. Whenever you are wrong, turn it into an opportunity to learn and people will respect you for both admitting that you are wrong, and teaching them how to do it the right way. People will get value from this.
Make statements about topics. People are more willing to listen to something who speaks with confidence and conviction even if it’s wrong, than someone who speaks timidly even if they’re right.
Even if you’re wrong about something, it’s the wrong type of person who will take you up on it and hold it against you. You know the kind, “Haha, I knew you were wrong”, and proceeds to dance around, making a show about it.
This is the type of person who you were never trying to reach in your audience. They were never your target audience. Don’t forget that for every one negative or bad comment you get, there are 100 silent admirers.
It’s not the end of the world if you are wrong about something. You’re not a fraud and you’re not an imposter if what you have tried and succeeded at before no longer works for you or for others. Share this experience with others, aim to help other people with these problems. At the base of it, if you want to help people by providing value, helpful advice, and useful knowledge, people will listen and respect you.
We struggle with these things, but feel bad when we compare ourselves to others who appear to be doing better than us from the outside. But everyone is different, and each person has their own struggles. Everyone experiences this feeling no matter what level they are at. Everyone has their own definition of success, and everyone’s success looks different. But don;’t let the feeling of imposter syndrome incapacitate you so much that you don’t pursue something that you love to do or share something you love.
Share what you love to do. Take action on who you want to be and where you want to be with your passion.
You’re going to feel like you’re faking it in the beginning, like you don’t deserve the attention or gratitude for the work you have created or knowledge you share. This is why they say “fake it til’ you make it”. Because this is the feeling you will have not just in the beginning, but even throughout your pursuit of the passion or skill. All that matters is that you start what you love, be honest with people and create relationships with those who also love to do what you do.