I mentioned briefly in a previous post that I am often faced with the question of "So what do you do for a living?" at social gatherings.
It's always quite difficult for me to answer this question and I often start by stating that I studied to be a Mechanical Engineer. In a sense, I start with this statement to avoid them thinking I am a fraud, lazy, or a schemer and to prepare them for what comes next.
After this, I usually go on to tell them I am either a drug dealer or a bank robber which usually buys me a little more time before I have to tell them what I actually do.
Why is it so difficult to say: "I am an entrepreneur."
Most people who know me would definitely say I have a lot of confidence and that I am not scared to say what I think. However when faced with saying "I am an entrepreneur" I find myself hesitating. Similar to the feeling you have just before asking a big favour of someone, asking for a raise, or asking someone on a date.
I know that I am a successful entrepreneur and that I have founded or co-founded successful businesses. So why keep on feeling this way? I had to do a little bit of introspection to get to the bottom of this.
The answer: IMPOSTER SYNDROME
According to verywellmind.com this is the definition of Imposter Syndrome:
"To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a phony—you feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud—like you don't belong where you are, and you only got there through dumb luck. It can affect anyone no matter their social status, work background, skill level, or degree of expertise." - verywellmind.com
Which is exactly how I feel. It's not easy to explain why I feel this way. I am an analytical thinker, and I know it's ridiculous to feel this way. But every now and again, I still catch myself doing it.
There is definitely some luck involved in my journey. I did have a privileged upbringing. I attended a great school and university. I did not have any study debt.
But there is definitely a great deal of hard work, reading, and learning involved in what I have achieved. Knowing this, probably won't take away my Imposter Syndrome, but knowing that I have a predisposition to feel this way, allows me to identify the feeling and promptly dismiss it. Easier said than done.
The irony of it all
Most people revere entrepreneurs.
Each time I have the courage to say "I am an entrepreneur" what comes afterward is amazing.
Usually, the person says that they have always wanted to become an entrepreneur or try and get that side hustle off the ground. This provides me with an incredible opportunity to brainstorm about their plan (which I love) and encourage them to follow through on their ideas.
Every now and again, these conversations lead to bigger things. More than once in my life, this has led to me building relationships with incredible entrepreneurs. (a lot of them are "undercover entrepreneurs", probably also due to Imposter Syndrome)
The curse of knowledge
One of the reasons you might have imposter syndrome is because you often think: "Why are my particular set of skills so great?"
In my case, I have a very specific set of skills that make it possible for me to excel in my endeavors:
- I am comfortable with website building
- I know my way around social media marketing and paid online advertising to find customers
- I have just enough coding skills to be dangerous
Because I use these skills every day - they feel obvious to me - when in fact they are not common knowledge or easy.
If you feel this way, don't. You are probably not faking it, and you probably have a set of skills you can use to build a business.
My challenge to myself: OWN IT
I would like to challenge myself and anyone else reading this, the next time someone asks you what you do - OWN IT.
Even if you're not an entrepreneur, this applies to everyone. Whether you're a Plumber, Store Manage, Docter, Cleaning Lady, Bank Robber, or Drug Dealer. Tell them proudly, Don't be vague. Tell them exactly what you do and why you are passionate about it.
Confidence resonates with people - you might just put something in motion that changes the world someday!
If you would like to watch a cool video on Imposter Syndrome, check out this video of Ali Abdaal (Medical Docter/Youtuber/Entrepreneur).
Ali Abdaal is one of my favourite YouTubers and I have learned a ton from him!
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