Fear. Something that’s been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Honestly, I have been an anxious, worrisome gal since the beginning. I've missed out on a lot of fun and opportunities because of it. One day, when we were young, my best friend and I went to Six Flags. I didn’t want to get on any of the rides because I was terrified of heights. I just kept imagining what would happen if the ride broke or if I wasn’t strapped in correctly and it freaked me out! If you know my best friend, you know that she did not stand for that for one second. She forced me to get on the Georgia Scorcher and... I LOVED it. I felt silly afterward for being so afraid. It was such an exhilarating experience, why had I been denying myself that pleasure up until that point?
Now that I’m older, my fears and anxieties are more pointed at myself, my creativity, my appearance, and most of all, my blog and Etsy business. It’s terrifying to put yourself out there. Vulnerability is SO HARD, but as I’ve learned, it’s always worth it. Recently, I shared a post and an Instagram story that had me more vulnerable than usual. I was honest about my myself, my journey, and my struggle with anxiety and depression. I wrote and rewrote the post at least 15 times. I was a wreck trying to figure out the exact right thing to say. Fear was telling me, “DON’T DO IT! You aren’t a REAL blogger! You know what happens when you put yourself out there. People are mean!”. It was a struggle getting past my fearful thoughts. In the post, I didn’t even get into too much detail about my struggles, but it still felt like a big leap. My heart was pounding after I posted it. I was nervous about being laughed at, mocked, and made fun of. But, I knew if I want to really level up my blog and business, this is part of the deal. So I posted it.
The first reaction I got was “I think I like you less now”. Woah. Ouch. The next reaction I got jokingly compared my intro to the intro of the Wild Thornberry’s cartoon. It wasn’t a mean-spirited comment. I genuinely thought it was hilarious, but it definitely freaked me out a little. Did I just make a complete fool of myself? It was a sinking feeling. But then, something wonderful happened. Comments and messages began to trickle in with lots of encouragement from people who related to my story. It sparked some great connections and conversations with some incredible women and for that I am so grateful. If I had listened to my fears, that would have never happened.
This kind of fear is not uncommon. In fact, it’s so common, it was a large talking point in my graduate studies. This kind of fear is known as impostor syndrome. Basically, it’s the fear of failure, of being found out as a fraud, of being seen as imperfect. I feel this constantly in my job, in my Etsy business, in my creative pursuits, and especially with this blog. I am in the beginning stages of these areas of my life right now. I’m still a beginner at 26 years old because, until very recently, I let impostor syndrome and fear keep me from whole-heartedly pursuing these things. You can’t fail if you never really try, right?
Last week, I had an Etsy order to ship out. I use recycled boxes and materials to pack my items because I like to keep it eco-friendly for the earth and cost-effective for the customer. I’ve read about how important packaging is to the customer experience, but I stand by my methods. That doesn’t mean I’m not incredibly self-conscious and anxious about the seemingly crappy packaging everytime I ship an order. I mean, I have gotten some beautifully packaged goods with glorious marketing collateral from other Etsy shops. At times, that’s enough to make me feel like a total small business fraud. This order was no different. I used a box I had gotten from another store and covered their logos with hand drawn flowers. I used eco-friendly tissue paper on the inside to jazz it up and included a card. I hoped that would be enough for the customer to at least not HATE the package.
This morning, I was listening to an audiobook I’d just started on Audible. Christy Wright’s Business Boutique. The chapter I listened to was about fear and impostor syndrome. I thought to myself, “oh yes, I know this all too well.” As I listened, I checked my Etsy dashboard and had a message. I read it and was so touched by the message.
It felt like the universe was chuckling at me a bit. Here I was, listening to a chapter about imposter syndrome, thinking about my seemingly janky packaging, and that message hits my inbox. Synchronicity at it’s finest if you ask me.
What I’m trying to say here is, fear does not have to have the final say and a lot of times, the things that you fear -no one else would even think of. Most everyone feels like a fraud at some point. The important part is that you do the thing anyway. Perfectionism and fear are out to get you and if you’re not courageous and intentional, they will win. We all have to start somewhere, but we will never get anywhere if we let fear stop us in our tracks.
Have you felt the weight of impostor syndrome? Let me know in the comments below.