Starting out any new venture can be intimidating. Whether it’s a new business, a new relationship, or even a new hobby, the fear of not being good enough can really hold us back.
Now, if we’re smart, we can use our fear to motivate us – to drive us to be better. But when we’re not so smart, we start to think that eventually – definitely – someone will realize that we’re a fraud. That we’re not good enough. That we’re not who we claim to be, or certainly not as good as they think we are.
This is called the impostor syndrome, and even highly successful people suffer from it. It is that fear that we are actually, deep down, a fraud, and do not deserve any of the success that has or may come to us. Even when at the top, a successful person who suffers from this may feel that it was a matter of luck and circumstance that brought them to the top, and that soon enough the truth will be discovered and they will have all of it taken away.
The thing is, we have to be careful not to let this fear get into our heads and tell us what others are supposedly thinking of us. It is not uncommon, when we are insecure, for us to think that others are secretly judging us. That they are laughing at us. That they are just being nice to our face, but do not truly like us. These are the voices in our heads that are promoted and encouraged by fear. After all, we are judging ourselves. We are laughing at ourselves. And we, if only in that moment, do not really like ourselves. So clearly, other people must agree. Right?
But we have to remember that we often have a distorted view of ourselves, especially in moments of insecurity and risk. Taking that chance to open up your heart to someone new, or giving up the security of a stable job for a new and risky business venture, are powerful enhancers of self-doubt and worst-case-scenario speculations. Every new project that you have to develop from scratch will never truly be everything you know it can be – because with each step of progress, you find out how it can be even better. And these moments can really convince you that you are showing the world the worst side of you – the you that has no clue what you’re doing, or whether it is going to work out, the you that does not have all the answers. The thing to remember in these moments is that you are the one seeing all your past failures displayed in your head together with all your possible future failures. Other people are more likely seeing your immediate accomplishments. They may well be seeing possibility – a new person or a new idea, and all the excitement that comes with it.
So while every moment is a good moment to keep on growing, and this article is not intended to make you content with who you are in such a way that you stagnate, and stop learning or improving yourself, I do have one important piece of advice to give you: do not destroy things out of fear.
It is so easy, when you’re feeling like a fraud, to call things off. It feels noble to say “I will spare you all the pain and suffering of enduring this venture with me, The Fraud of all Frauds, so I will set you free to seek out better opportunities.” But it may not be as noble as it feels. While there is certainly a time and place for a respectful partings, “respectful partings” should not be your default move in life. Giving up should not be your default move in life. You have to take risks if you truly wish to achieve something great in life, and you must trust that the people that are joining you on your journey are joining you because it is their journey too – at least right now.
Be honest with yourself when you feel like calling things off: are you quitting one thing to open up time and space in your life for something greater? Or are you running away from fear and not even giving yourself the chance to fail – much less to succeed? Remember that sometimes the noble thing to do is to face those fears and not let them dictate which way you move. Your next move is yours, and only yours, to make.