Face it. You’re a fraud. An impostor.
It’s 10:19am as I sit at my home office and monitor my freelance gigs. This is my life now. Is it your life too? Are you here with me, kicking off on a new career adventure, just like I am?
I’m controlling my own finances. Asking for what I’m worth. Putting my foot down. Making my own schedule. Being my own boss. Hustling for the life I deserve. This is what I always wanted. Have you wanted it too? To be in charge. A woman in tech, kicking ass, taking names. This is the stuff of dreams, right? Right? Super honest answer time: God, I’m terrified.
I had written a really promising, empowering article this past Saturday about being Brave. But, because being Brave is so scary, I instantly hid the article. Like a coward. Unlisted it. I’m sure you’ve done that too. You’ve bitten your tongue when you wanted to speak, worried the words would blow up in your mouth. And so you didn’t. Fear ate up your voice in a second or less.
I coiled back into myself even after lambasting the entire hiring industry just two weeks ago. Like a champ, I took to the hills, and tore down all that was fake and wrong with hiring, with my wild mouth, and wild fingers tapping viciously on keys. Now, of all times, I hesitate.
We’re all cowards in the face of our purest potential and power.
Each time I try to write about my journey I come back scared. Doubting, worrying, worrying so badly that I twist my hair into braids to fidget out the fear.
You’re as worried as I am that you’re a fake, a phony, hack, a has-been. Because you’ve clicked this article and you’ve started to read. To see why I’ve said you are a fraud — an impostor. You wanted to challenge it, because deep down, you’ve said the very same thing to yourself. Relentlessly.
You said you were the impostor, to yourself, when you didn’t negotiate for a better wage. Why didn’t you try?
You said you were a phony when you didn’t ask for the raise you rightfully deserved. You’ve put in the work. You’ve impressed the right people. What’s wrong with you?
You said you were a fraud when you stayed in a job that sucked, but you didn’t think you could find anything better. Why do you let people walk all over you like that?
You said you were a fake when you let dudes talk over you in a meeting, when you had some really great feedback and ideas. Why didn’t you interrupt them and make it known you had something to say?
You said you were a hack when you opened up your freelance contracts and stared, glassy-eyed, even though you knew your rates were fair. Why does this surprise you? Aren’t you at the top of your game?
I’m a fraud. An impostor. A fake, a phony, a hack, and a has-been. That’s what you’ve said to yourself, and that’s what I’m saying to myself right now. And God, do we ever believe we’re impostors.
We believe that insidious self-doubt, we worship it, even as it strangles us both.
But I’m up here on the edge of this ledge, making my move to jump to the next opportunity, the next building. Despite how terrified I am that I’m not good enough for all of this. All this success I have now, and all the success I could have later. And still I’m ready to leap. Shaking in my boots.
I may sit in my google hangouts meetings, terrified off my ass, cracking jokes to keep my nerves down. I’m so charismatic that most people can’t even tell — I’m sure someone I’ve had a meeting with will see this and scratch their head in confusion. What happened to the Brave girl? Where did she go?
I still sit in meetings and share my perspective and knowledge. I still get the briefing. I write my notes. I make my prowess and skills be known, clearly. I draw my boundaries. I cross the T’s and dot the I’s. This isn’t my first rodeo. We’re starting this. Why am I panicking? We’re doing it. God, I’m terrified.
I take in a deep, deep breath and flash my eyes open. I run back towards the other end of the building. I’m looking at my past life. I’m looking at my past complacency, my past career, my past mistakes. Should I run? Should I fight? Should I fly? Should I crow?
As I’m having cold sweats and my heart starts to beat erratically, I still race forward. I’m running. The drop is there. I could fall. I could fail. I could go broke. What if this doesn’t work out? What if I drop like a stone and have to return to my old job, and my old life? I’m a fraud. I’m an impostor.
They could hate my design work. I could suck at copywriting. I’m an impostor. What if I can’t make it? A fake. What if I can’t pay my bills? A phony. What if I’m just not talented enough? A hack. What if…I’m amazing?
I’m scaling through the air, cutting at it with my feet, maintaining position as I hurdle across the divide. If I fall, and I break some bones along the way, I can’t just let that injury end me. I have to be smarter next time. You have to be smarter next time.
I have to try harder, run faster, and leap further. I look down. Did you just look down too? There’s Poverty. “Hello, Poverty! How’re ya doin?”, I shout as she laughs at me. Me, stuck in the air, terrified, flinging myself across to a new frontier. Poverty is ready to catch me. I flip her off.
I’m leaping through without a safety net. The air whips over my features and tears at my hair and hot, salty tears run down my face. The air kisses them away in coldness. The air is trying to be kind. The air is possibility. The possibility of all my purest power and potential. It can’t carry me. But it won’t stop me. It’ll let me through, if I fight hard enough. For the career, the promise, and the future within me.
And then I might touch down. I might land. I might find success after leaping so far for my future, my life, my vocation, and my livelihood.
Are you a coward? I’m asking us both, right now. Are you scared, trembling, worried, fearful about your future? Your silence is an answer: Yes. But you’re still up here with me…aren’t you?
Is it better to take that huge leap of courage, that leap of faith in your abilities, or is it better to stay? To stay sad where you are, in comfortable misery?
Is it better to stay and sit within the job that undervalues you, underpays you? Is it better to stay in the cycle of crap after crap after crap after crap? Is it? I’m yelling. I’m yelling this at you as I’m free-falling towards a building’s roof.
I’m not sure I’m going to make it the first time. Hell, I probably won’t. I’ll probably wipe out at my first attempt to work for myself. You probably will too. But there’s a silver-lining to all this.
There’s a silver-lining for you, you who keeps trying to leap. You who is still capable of leaping. See those people down there? See those people who look sad, every day, day-in, day-out? You were like that. I was like that. We were both like that.
Until we climbed this building. Until we jumped with our purest power and potential.
Until we were Brave.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to drop me a line about your experiences.
Or you can add me on Discord to talk about nerdy things: windows95toasteroven#3745
— Kira Leigh