Embracing Imposter Syndrome

When we embrace imposter syndrome instead of working to make it disappear, we choose the productive way forward. The imposter is proof that we’re innovating, leading, creating.

Seth Godin, The Practice

Imposter syndrome is a feeling that’s hard to put your finger down on.

But it always pops up when you’re embarking on anything new, especially if it’s creative.

Since I started writing and publishing daily, I’ve touched on ideas, stories, and beliefs that I’ve never shared publicly before. Sure, I’ve had conversations with friends and family members about some of these concepts, but I’ve never put myself out there in the public until now.

And I’ll let you in on a little secret: it’s liberating.

Even if no one reads these blogs but my mom, that’s okay with me. I’m scratching my own itch and having a blast doing it.

For once, I’m not just writing about sports (which is what most people know me for). Don’t get me wrong, I still love sports and want to continue to incorporate sports into my writing. But I don’t think it paints the full picture.

When I started this blog, I made a conscious decision to take a step back and write about things that most people have never heard from me. About ideas that have changed my life in the past 4-5 years. About big decisions I’ve made and frameworks that I’ve found helpful from the books, videos, and podcasts that I consume. About conversations and experiences I’ve had. And about business, entrepreneurship, technology, and working for a startup company.

Yet, I still have that nagging feeling. That feeling that I don’t really belong here.

Who am I to think I could possibly write about Stoicism, cryptocurrency, or meditation? I’m not an expert in any of these areas. You should let the professionals do it, Jonah. You should just shut up and write about sports.

Imposter syndrome is that voice inside your head telling you that you’re not enough. That voice saying you’re not qualified to write about a certain topic. That you’re not talented enough to start that graphic design project. That you shouldn’t start that business venture. That you shouldn’t try out for that play. That you’re not funny or smart or witty enough. That you’re not creative enough. Simply put, that you’re not enough.

I battle this annoying voice in my brain everyday. But you have to learn how to tune it out. You have to learn that it’s all BS.

In Steven Pressfield’s book The War of Art, he talks about the idea of Resistance being the all-encompassing force holding us back from our inner creative battles. In the first chapter, he says that “resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease, and erectile disfunction.”

Then at the end of this same chapter, Pressfield paints a disturbing picture of a young Hitler and how Resistance set him down his evil path:

“You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the School of Architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway:

It was easier for Hitler to start World War II [and kill millions of Jews] than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

Let that sink in.

It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.

This is definitely an extreme example of what happens when someone doesn’t tap into their creative endeavors. But I do think it’s a good reminder. We should all choose to face the blank canvas and not be paralyzed by it.

Trusting the Process

After listening to Seth Godin’s interview on the Tim Ferriss Show last week, I knew I needed to pick up a copy of his newest book The Practice, which officially launched this past Tuesday (on Election Day).

The Practice by Seth Godin

At first, I wondered why he decided to launch a book on a day when almost everyone had their energies focused elsewhere. Then I found the answer. He wrote about the decision on his blog.

“I did it partly because I know you can handle two things at once, and would probably want to find something to fill your time while you were waiting for the results. And mostly because The Practice is about the long haul, the persistent posture of creation and possibility,” Godin said.

It’s about the long haul. It’s about getting started. But how do you know what creative work you should do? What if you change your mind? And the age-old question: where do you find your passion? Godin has some good advice here from The Practice:

Once you decide to trust your self, you will have found your passion. You’re not born with it, and you don’t have just one passion. It’s not domain specific: it’s a choice…


The trap is this: only after we do the difficult work does it become our calling. Only after we trust the process does it become our passion.

“Do what you love” is for amateurs.
“Love what you do” is the mantra for professionals.

Seth Godin, The Practice

You have to do the work and trust the process.

I started reading The Practice last night and devoured more of it this morning. In fact, I almost couldn’t put it down to get to my writing (this is an example of the Resistance that Pressfield talks about. Positive Resistance, but Resistance nevertheless.). Godin, in his beautifully simple way, talks at length that we are all creative and that we just need to get started. There are 219 chapters in this book, and each chapter is just 1 page or less, so it’s so easy to get through.

There are SO many gems from The Practice that I’d love to talk about (and I’m ONLY 20 percent through the book). Before I literally steal every good line from this book, you should order a copy yourself if you’re at all interested in these ideas (and I promise I’m not getting any affiliate money from this link).

Maybe it’s my own confirmation bias since I’m so deep in my own daily creative work, but every single page from the book has resonated with me. And I think it will resonate with you if you crave more creativity in your life and want to win the battle with Resistance and Imposter Syndrome.

Lastly, I’ll leave you with this gem:

If you want to change your story, change your actions first. When we choose to act a certain way, our mind can’t help but rework our narrative to make those actions become coherent.

We become what we do.

Seth Godin, The Practice

Cheers to changing your actions and then your story,

JB


This was day 24 of my 30 Day Blogging Challenge! But I think I’ll stick around longer.

Would you be interested in receiving a weekly email newsletter from me each week that will include links to my articles and other interesting things I dig up? 

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Published by Jonah Baer

Florida State student | Memphis, TN native

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