Let’s talk about imposter syndrome. So I have seen a number of videos and posts ABOUT people feeling impostery. And I mean, like, successful people. I still feel this way myself on occasion, and just about everyone I talk to in any professional realm feels this.
However, I don’t feel this ALL the time. I have some things I do that work for me to help keep that monster quiet, and I want to share those with you.
Maybe this will work for you. Maybe it won’t. This isn’t a sure-fire cure. It’s just what works for me.
Also, I’m going to be using the word “You” a lot — and I don’t mean YOU. This is kind of a letter from myself TO myself.
In my last video, I talked about how I booked a lot then I booked very little. And I can’t help but think sometimes, “Has all my success to this point just been luck?” And even saying that out loud sounds dumb because luck is really a one-off thing. No one gets lucky consistently. Otherwise, we wouldn’t refer to it as luck.
Understanding The “Hidden” Job Market
I recently heard a statistic — and it’s a hard one to verify — that 80% of all jobs are not flown publicly. They’re all flown internally, flown via word of mouth, handed off to friends & family, etc.
And frankly, that’s wild.
That means that no matter how many applications we send in, no matter how many auditions we do, no matter how many hoops we jump through, we only see the tip of the iceberg.
And honestly, it’s kind of comforting. Hear me out.
You’ll eventually get to that point where you are IN the hidden job market. And you may not even know it when you’re there. But you unfortunately have to work REALLY hard to break into that phase of your life.
And I have experienced it myself. I have been given opportunities and gigs because I spent so much time proving myself publicly and openly that I CAN do the things I CLAIM I can do.
Consistency Is Key
I consistently send in auditions to break into other circles. I constantly put myself out there. I’m making content — literally right now — to show others that I am dedicated to the professional side of my life. I take classes. I get coaching. I spend time studying. I do a lot all in anticipation of a chance I may — or may not — get.
But I wouldn’t have gotten into these circles or had these opportunities had I not been so open with my successes, wins, etc. But each win builds on the last. It’s definitely a snowball, and getting that first bit of snow rolling is HARD.
It’s a grind for sure, but consistency is what will separate you from your competition. When they’re ready to quit, YOU keep going. When I feel imposter-y, I remind myself that even though I may be outmatched, out-talent-ed, or out-resources, I will NOT be outworked. And that notion helps to soothe the imposter.
To build upon that a bit, let’s talk about networking.
You HAVE to net— net— No, I’m not going to say that.
What you actually HAVE to do is make friends. And not FAKE friends. Actual friends.
Make friends with people on the internet. Take an interest in what they do. Support their art. Support their journey.
And most importantly, don’t be a phony about it. ACTUALLY care. ACTUALLY take time and pay attention.
Input Vs Output
What goes around comes around. And not in a cosmic way. Just in a way where you always think about your friends first. I know I do.
If ever an opportunity arises that I am not good for, I think about the people who actually have taken the time to support me on MY journey. …Who have taken the time to listen to me gripe about stuff. Who I believe actually CARE for me and my wellbeing even at a distance
Do we get coffee three times a week in a sit-com-y sort of way? No. Of course not. Because we’re adults, and time is an illusion — and it’s even more of an illusion that we actually have any for ourselves after the age of 30…
…but I do care about these people. Call it parasocial if you want, but I believe in internet friends.
Take care of them like you would any other friend — help each other. It’s a lot harder to feel like an imposter when you have REAL support behind you. When you have people who legitimately believe in you.
You’re Simply NOT The Best
Another kind of important thing to remember is that you don’t HAVE to be the best. You just have to be both good enough and right for the part. And this one REALLY puts my imposter syndrome in its place.
I feel like that imposter-y feeling stems from not being good enough. There is a lot of positivity on the internet — things like “You are good enough!” And that’s true, but flipping that notion on its head is more helpful for me personally: “You don’t have to be THE BEST.”
That mindset shift alone is life-changing for me. Instead of questioning, “AM I enough?” and then doubting that notion, I can almost always think, “No, I’m not the best — but I don’t have to be. I just have to be ready for the next chance and be good enough to rise to THAT occasion.”
It might sound a little negative, but it’s a lot easier to confirm that you’re not the worst — than it is to confirm that you’re good enough. One of those ideas is validated by someone else, and the other is a statistical likelihood. And that helps me sleep easier at night.
Selection Vs Rejection
I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on this.
Have you ever seen a casting call or a flown job go to someone and you enviously thought, “I could have done JUST AS GOOD A JOB or BETTER?” I have. How narcissistic of us!
Well, maybe you’re wrong — maybe you’re right. But you know what? A ton of other people had the same thought. And maybe they were also wrong or also right.
The point is that you don’t get to decide which voice is right for the part or which designer is right for the job. They got picked. You didn’t. And that’s all out of your control.
While your work may be good, maybe it just wasn’t what they saw in their mind’s eye. Maybe your name is the same name of an ex-lover who scorned them. Who knows.
Point is: You just have to move on.
And eventually, SOMETHING will come along that’s right for you — provided that you ARE good ENOUGH. And then someone else can have those same jealous thoughts about you. Someone else can say they were better than YOU and THEY should have gotten the part.
But remember what I said before — even though they may be right, and maybe the ARE better than you, you are still good enough for the part. More accurately, there were definitely worse decisions than YOU that could have been made.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t keep getting better. Always strive to improve, grow etc. Always swing for the fences. That gets you in the door. And I’m sure you’ll find that once you’re in the ROOM that the task at hand probably isn’t as hard as you thought it’d be.
Good Enough Is Good Enough
Be good enough. Accept that you’ll never be the best. But you know what? The people you’re comparing yourselves to probably aren’t the best either. They’re just IN — right now. And that could change at any moment.
And I’m sure they know that. So what are they doing? Enjoying the ride. Getting better. Being good enough, and being cool people, and consistently getting called back because they’re probably great to work with.
So work on making yourself the best you can be RIGHT NOW. Don’t work on being the best. Don’t double down on those unattainable goals. Enjoy the craft. Enjoy the art. And position yourself in such a way to answer the call when it comes.
You’re not the best. But you’re probably not the worst.
SHOW How Good You Are
Building on that last point, remember that OTHER people pick you — you don’t pick yourself. You apply for the job. You audition for the thing. And someone else decides who gets the part, the job, etc.
And if they just so happen to think you’re good enough, AGREE WITH THEM.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with people who wouldn’t apply for a job because THEY think they aren’t qualified.
And my advice is always the same: Let THEM tell you no. If you don’t apply yourself in the first place, you have a 100% chance of not getting the job or the role. If you at least APPLY or AUDITION, you have some semblance of a chance.
And that’s a lot better than literally NO chance.
And if you DO get the gig, SHOW them that they made the right choice. Remember, if you don’t get it, it’s not rejection — it’s SELECTION. There can be only one.
But if you DO get it, prove them right, and get called back for more work later.
So stop telling yourself you have to be perfect. Stop thinking that you have more control than you actually do. Just be good enough. And be cool enough to make that casting director feel as though they made the right choice.
Hard work over talent
That brings me to another point about being good enough and not necessarily perfect: Most people prefer “good enough and good to work with” over “straight-up amazing and a terrible person.” Take advantage of that. Be awesome. Be kind. Be nice. Be thoughtful. Pay attention. Work hard. Do all of those things. What’s that quote? People may forget what you said, but they’ll always remember how you make them feel? Well, yeah. It’s true.
Just be cool. Don’t get into internet drama. Don’t get too sad on yourself all the time. When people think of you or see a tweet or a LinkedIn post, hopefully you have positioned yourself to make some positive associations.
Stay the course. Stay consistent. Constantly learn. Constantly grow. Constantly SHOW UP. And you WILL get the next thing. That FIRST thing may be really hard to get, but when you do and when you prove yourself, you’ll get the callback.