What to Do When You Feel Like a Fraud

Claiming your profession is great, but what do you do when you say “I am a fill-in-the-blank” and still feel like a fraud?

Say it anyway.

Frankly, this is one of those “chicken or egg,” “fake it til you make it” moments. You can’t be what you want to be until you declare it to yourself.

Unfortunately, the Fear Monster will be right there, screaming in your face that you aren’t good enough, that you don’t have the talent, that you must not really want it or you would have achieved that goal a long time ago, that you are a LIAR!

Your most effective weapon against the Fear Monster is to do the work to make your declaration true.

Begin. Know it doesn’t matter when you begin. Know it only matters that you begin.

Take action. Know that all you need to do to be a writer is to write. All you need to do to be a designer is to design. All you need to do to be anything you want is to do the work. Allow every action to reinforce your declared profession.

Create a habit that places you in the right space to do the work. (Sign up on the right to get my guide to Trick Yourself into a Creative Habit.) Show up for your muse. Show up for yourself. Show that Fear Monster screaming “You are a liar!” every time you say “I’m a fill-in-the-blank” that you are willing to do everything you can to make that phrase true.

And then, in that space you’ve made to work, do the work! Learn, practice, think deeply, solve problems, imagine, create! Type the words, bend the wood, twist the wire, mold the clay, paint the canvas, memorize the lines, move your body.

Remove every barrier that keeps you from doing that work. If the only time you have to do the work is early in the morning when you usually pack your lunch, pack lunch the night before. Work in the evening but regularly end up folding the laundry instead? Ask your partner or children to help. Set up your desk or bench so it’s ready to go. Make sure the computer is updated, extra supplies available, the easel is up.

Ask your guardians to protect you from the Fear Monster during your visit with the Muse. Create a ritual.  Say a prayer. Light a candle. Gather totems to frighten the monsters away. Surround yourself with inspirational quotes.

Here’s a confidence-building tip: We all have wings.  Each feather in those wings is a skill, a talent, or a quality that moves us forward. Look at those tools and see that you have what you need. Leap off the cliff, flapping those wings as hard as you can. Learn to fly like any other fledgling. Feel where your wings hold you up and how relaxing into the air currents can carry you farther than any furious flapping. Feel the confidence that grows from experiencing your feathers holding you in the air.

When the Fear Monster sneaks up on you and whispers “No! You can’t possibly be that fabulous artist you want to be,” let your Inner Brat out of her cage to scream back, “SO WHAT? I’M DOING IT ANYWAY!”  (Pro Tip – The Fear Monster hates that Inner Brat and is so, so scared of her!)

Tell the Fear Monster where he can get off.

Because you are an artist.

You’re doing the work.