“All or Nothing”, “Go Hard or Go Home”, “Don’t Stop When You’re Tired, Stop When You’re Done”. These are the kinds of quotes that I often see pop up on my Instagram feed in gritty typography against a backdrop of an oiled-up muscular bodybuilder, flexing intensely in a dark room dimly lit by downlights.
These quotes sound nice. If I’m already at the gym, reading something like this might get me to increase the incline on the treadmill, load up some extra weights on my bar or keep going past my set number of reps until failure. After all, nothing worth having comes easy, and feeling sore today means being strong tomorrow, right? (Why are there so many of these fitness adages stored in my brain??).
The ‘all or nothing’ approach isn’t just found in fitness discourse, I also see quotes like “hustle and grind 24/7, 365” and “give 110% all the time” thrown around in other contexts like business, career progression and even in relationships.
Again, it all sounds really nice. Who wouldn’t want to hire someone who is self-motivated enough to work 24/7, 365? Who wouldn’t love being in a relationship with someone who puts 110% effort in every single day, not just on Valentine’s Day and anniversaries?
The problem that I have with the ‘all-or-nothing’ approach is that, for me at least, it isn’t sustainable. There might be some people out there who really can show up to the gym every single day, complete their set workout and stick to a certain diet plan perfectly. I am not one of those people.
I’ve had a gym membership for over 5 years now and the longest I’ve ever been able to stick to my ‘ideal’ diet and exercise goals perfectly has been about 2 weeks.
I used to think that maybe if I set myself really ambitious goals, like hitting the gym 7 times a week for at least an hour, then at least if I missed a few days, I’d still be going quite a lot… right? I think the saying goes “Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss it, you’ll land among the stars.”
In practice though, if I missed one day of hitting the gym for whatever reason, my ‘all or nothing’ mindset would kick in and I’d think that there was no point in continuing since I had already failed. “I might as well eat pizza and brownies while watching Netflix shows for now and start again next week…” Or, if I only had 30 mins spare to exercise, rather than a full hour, I thought to myself, “what’s the point? I won’t even work up a sweat or have a chance to get my heart rate up.”
It’s the perfectionist’s fatal flaw- holding oneself to impossibly high standards, inevitably followed by failure, guilt, demotivation (and sometimes a whole tray of Tim-Tams in bed).
Something Is Better Than Nothing
What I’ve found helpful in getting myself out of the “all-or-nothing” mindset, without giving up on my goals altogether, is a “something-is-better-than-nothing” mindset. Small, consistent actions towards fitness, career, business or relationship goals are much more effective than short-lived but intense spikes of activity followed by long periods of doing nothing.
By giving myself permission to go off track a little bit and not allowing myself to use it as an excuse to completely disregard my plans, I feel like I’ve been able to achieve more, increase confidence in myself and get more out of the journey as a whole. After all, hitting the gym 3 times per week for 45 minutes might not be as good as going every day, but it’s better than skipping out altogether (and feeling super guilty about it!)
Finally, in the spirit of including lots of tacky motivational quotes, I find it helpful to remember:
“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
If you, like me, live down under in Australia then I’m sure you’ve noticed the temperatures steadily rising, the days getting that little bit longer and the sun shining that little bit brighter every day.
My Instagram feed is starting to fill up with beachy shots from my actual friends, not just the aspirational bikini brands and fitness model pages I follow, and, perhaps the most definitive signal that summer is well and truly on the way, McDonalds has started running its Monopoly ticket campaign! Bring on the drive-thru frozen coke spiders and McFlurrys on the way to the beach, am I right? (Not sponsored by Maccas, just a die-hard fan).
Here are 7 more things I’m super excited for now that the weather is warming up!
For me, there’s nothing better than getting outside and burning a few calories before cooling off in the ocean or sitting down to a beachside brunch (RIP house deposit), but even if you’re not the biggest fan of working up a sweat, there’s no dispute that Sydney has some of the most breathtaking coastal views in the world. Rather than trying to find a parking spot at the always packed Bondi beach, I like to drive up to Coogee, Bronte or Clovelly and walk from there.
Other favourites of mine include the Barrenjoey Lighthouse walk in Palm Beach (short but steep) and the walk to Wedding Cake Rock in the Royal National Park. The beauty of living in Sydney is that there are so many pretty places to explore, and most of them are easy to access, fitted with amenities and close to cafes and shops so we can easily refuel afterwards!
Trips to the Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains National Park will always hold a very special place in my heart. I have so many fun memories there from when my dad used to take my brother and me bushwalking as kids (stopping by the lolly shops in Katoomba on the way back), camping up there with my school in Year 5, swimming in the waterfalls during the semester break and even my celebrating my cousin’s wedding up there last year.
The whole region is just so unassuming and relaxing. Even on the drive up, the roads are usually empty, and everything feels slower. Now that the weather is warming up, if you can’t reach me on my phone, blame the lack of reception in the Blue Mountains.
Swimming (Everywhere and Always)
Summer and swimming, it’s really a no brainer. Whether it’s heading 5 minutes up the road to the local pool to swim laps or trekking out a bit further to find a scenic spot, we’re really spoilt for choice in Australia when it comes to watering holes where we can cool off. Some of my favourite places to go for a swim (that haven’t already been mentioned) are Wattamolla in the Royal National Park and Bents Basin towards good old Penrith.
PSA: for anyone who holds back from swimming in summer due to body insecurities, you do not need to live up to society’s “bikini body” standards or rock visible abs to qualify. Trust me, no one is looking at you at the beach, just wear what you want and jump right in!
Shorts and Skirts
There isn’t really much to say here besides that pants and jeans are the devil I can’t wait to stash them in the back of my wardrobe for another six months in favour of cute shorts, skirts and dresses.
“Why do you always wear pants then?” I hear you ask. Well, my laser lady and I may have taken a bit of a break over winter, but now that it’s bare leg season, I’ve come crawling back. Ain’t nobody got time to be shaving their legs every day.
One of my favourite things about summer is that even though each day still goes for 24 hours, the sun is up for so much longer. Waking up to no frost on the car and leaving work or Uni at 6pm while the sky is still light is a huge mood booster for me.
What’s more, I’m much more inclined to stay out late with my friends rather than calling it at 8pm (when I start to lose feeling in my fingers from the cold and am on the verge of falling asleep). Everyone knows: the later the hour, the better the banter.
Topping Up My Tan
When I was much younger, all I wanted was to be whiter. That was until I realised that everyone and everything looks better with a tan. Since I have no idea how to fake tan (it sounds like a lot of effort), I always take sunny days as the perfect opportunities to get that natural glow.
Thanks to my natural melanin, I don’t burn easily, but I would be remiss not to stress the importance of sun protection for everyone- especially in Australia where we have a giant hole in our ozone layer. Weirdly enough, the threat of skin cancer isn’t enough to scare me into wearing sunscreen regularly (Sorry Nanna), but the thought of premature ageing and the proliferation of freckles on my cheeks is. Thankfully, SPF15+ is built into most daily face creams and foundations, but I like to wear an extra layer of SPF50+ in summer, just to be safe.
Summer Food + Drinks
I love all food and I don’t discriminate. That being said, there’s just something special about food cooked on an open fire or outdoor grill, whether it’s the sausage sizzle at Bunnings on a Saturday morning, a seafood BBQ by the beach or just grilling up some skewers in the backyard. For me, summer food is a mix of nostalgia and tradition, cold beers and warm smiles, family and friends.
Finally, no article about the positive aspects of summer would be complete without giving a shout out to my favourite cold drinks and desserts. Iced coffee, Iced milk tea (with pearls ofc), frozen coke, gelato, magnums and paddle pops. Watch out, because I’m coming for you <3.
Are you a summer or a winter person? What are your favourite things about summer where you’re from? Comment below!
When I spent a year living in Munich, I discovered something about myself that I hadn’t previously been aware of. I left a cool and cloudy Sydney to arrive towards the end of what had been a sweltering German summer. I couldn’t believe that I was out there sweating through 30-degree days as I settled in, attending class in shorts and singlets and eating gelato by the lake after Uni, while my friends in Australia were still rugging up for tops of 8 degrees. It just seemed so backwards to me that it could be warmer and sunnier in Germany?
In Summer, the sun didn’t set in Munich until 9:30pm. My friends and I would hang out in the evenings on my balcony drinking Radler and eating fresh berries, before putting on our ridiculous dirndls around 10pm to head out for the Oktoberfest (which, for complicated reasons is actually held in late September).
Weekends were spent soaking up the sun in pretty Biergartens with Weissbier and pretzels, or bike-riding through lush green parks and cycleways. All the thick winter jackets and sweaters I had packed were hung up untouched, taking up most of my very limited wardrobe space, while I dressed in as little material as possible in an attempt to stay cool throughout the long, sweltering days.
But alas, like all good things, Summer had to come to an end. As we approached the end of the year and the Christmas season, temperatures began to drop, Biergartens closed for the Winter, and the sun pretty much stopped making an appearance. Every day was grey and dreary. Even in the middle of the day, it felt dark outside, like the clouds were a heavy blanket pushing down on the whole city and sucking the life out of me. I felt like I had no energy. I stopped wanting to go out. I missed my home and my friends back in Australia. I was too tired to go shopping, cook, clean or eat out. Without any sun, my normally olive skin turned transparent white and I developed dark circles under my eyes. I spent days at a time alone in my tiny house, watching Netflix shows and Ted Talks in between long naps and working on assignments.
I felt like a failure, I was on exchange in another country! I was meant to be having the time of my life, staying out every night and enjoying every minute, but instead I felt like I was trapped in this weird zombie state. I thought maybe that I was just lonely, but when I went to visit my family in England over Christmas, that heavy feeling didn’t go away. In fact, I felt so relieved when I was finally back in my tiny upstairs room back in Munich, where I could be alone to mope around in my own space. Although I found it pretty cool to see snow falling outside my window, and would sometimes take walks through the frozen park near my house, I still spent most of my time inside, alone, shutting myself off from the rest of the world.
Returning to Munich to find that it had snowed!
View of Olympiapark from Olympiaturm in Winter
I wondered if this feeling would go away. Was I just homesick or was something very, very wrong with me?
As you do, I turned to Dr. Google and discovered something called Seasonal Affective Disorder, SAD for short. Basically, it’s just like normal depression, but symptoms only start to show up during the winter months and then go into “remission’ during the rest of the year.
Although the specific biological causes of SAD are still unknown, it’s believed that for some people, a lack of exposure to light can affect our melanin and serotonin levels, which in turn disrupts our sleep cycle and ability to regulate mood. Apparently, severe cases of SAD which need to be treated with medication or therapy are rare, affecting only about 1 in 300 people.
Fortunately, I wouldn’t put myself in that category. But surely, if some people can be so significantly affected by “winter blues” that is crosses over into full-blown clinical depression, there must be some people who experience the phenomenon on a smaller scale. The weird thing is that I had never noticed the cold weather and grey days having as much of an impact on my mood before I was exposed to weeks and months of it on end.
Since coming back home, I’ve definitely been more aware of how significantly the weather outside affects my state of mind. I think that’s it’s been super helpful for me to be able to “rationalise” the way I feel as a normal biological response rather than blaming my situation, work and Uni stress or family and friends for my sour mood. It’s also been helpful in finding ways to perk myself up and get out of the rut. Rather than isolating myself and wondering what’s wrong with me, I know that I can:
Do some exercise
Text a friend
Go outside and get some light
Make a To-Do List and smash out simple tasks
Delete social media apps off my phone for a set period
Put the sugary snacks down and prepare a healthy meal instead
If all else fails, it’s comforting to know that the sun will come out again, and with it, bring back my normally positive mood. I still find it much more difficult to get out of bed when there’s no sunlight filtering through my blinds in the morning, and my productivity always takes a hit since all I want to do is curl up into a ball and go into hibernation. However, feeling down and lethargic when the sun doesn’t come out is just another thing that I’ve learned to accept about myself. (Also, that I’ll always have to live in a sunny country… Anyone keen to move to Fiji with me?)
I’d love to know if anyone else out there feels the same around winter time! Comment below or send me a private message if you can relate to sometimes feeling a bit SAD.
Disclaimer: As always, whenever I write something, I do it in the hope that someone, somewhere will relate to my experiences and feel just that little bit less alone. I recognise that my mental health journey so far has been smooth sailing compared to so many who struggle with severe depression and anxiety, day in-day out, regardless of whether the sun is shining outside or not. When I share some things that work for me, I am by no means suggesting that everyone’s mental health battles can be ‘solved’ with a bit of diet, exercise and mindfulness. If you, or someone you know needs help, please reach out to:
Internships, placement, work experience, slave labour. Whatever you call it, there’s no doubt that having real-life, often unpaid, industry experience under your belt before landing a paid position is the modern norm in most fields of work.
I’ve undertaken two internships at two very different companies. I jumped into the first internship with a fairly small company out of sheer curiosity- I felt that my university courses were not only heavy on theory but also that the content was simply outdated. I needed to learn about current practices, not so much about Gutenberg’s Press (although this is a topic which holds a very special place in my heart). After realising I could make internships count for credit, I took up the opportunity to do another internship with a slightly larger organisation which gave me experience in many different departments.
Putting aside the legal and ethical concerns regarding unpaid internships in Australia, especially for those from regional and low SES contexts (see here and here), my own personal experience with internships is that they have been well worth the time and effort that I have been so lucky to have been able to invest.
The most valuable lessons I’ve learned apply across almost any industry from Media, to Finance to Engineering to Health. Here are my top 4:
No One is Ever Really Done Learning
For those of us who are so over being The Student and can’t wait to finally graduate to being The Master, it may come as a little surprise that even the people who actually get paid to do what they do, don’t always have all the answers. While I was interning, I often felt like I was jumping into someone else’s learning journey. Sure, they’ve been in the game for years and years, but they too are constantly adapting and changing to suit the evolution of the industry.
In fact, it became clear over the course of my internships, that the individuals who invested more time and effort into learning and training, inside and outside of the scope of the workplace, were the ones that continually excelled and innovated. Understanding that gives me hope as a rookie in the workplace, because although skills and experience are super important, an open mind to learn new things is just as critical to professional success.
(Most) People Want to Help You
Just like in almost any context, if you enter a workplace as an intern or a newbie, be warned that you may encounter some not-so-nice people. I’ve met people who had an inflated sense of ego and made me feel like I was wasting their precious time. People who used the fact that I was “just an intern” to get me to do their grunt work, or pay me less respect than they would anyone else. In my experience though, those people are few and far between, and their attitude was definitely more a reflection of them than it was of me.
Nasty people aside, I was truly amazed and humbled by how many people were so willing to take time out of their schedules to sit with me, explain to me what they do and how they do it, show me examples of past work and give me some truly valuable advice. That’s what interning is all about. What’s more, I felt like these industry experts became invested in my success, were generous with constructive criticism and feedback and super encouraging all-around. I think that many industry veterans could remember being in my shoes- a university student who has no idea about what they want to pursue after graduation and were happy for the opportunity to give something back.
Students Do Have Something to Contribute
For the average “entry-level” role, job ads often have an impossibly long list of expectations outside of a tertiary qualification. Reading through the lists of skills and experience that I was expected to have before I even graduated made me feel like I was already so far behind. I thought I didn’t have anything useful to contribute to a business and I just simply wasn’t worth hiring. I used to shudder at sheer number of talented students in my cohort, not to mention all the other graduates from other universities, who surely had way more experience and achieved much better marks than I did.
Through interning, I slowly began to realise that, although they needed some work and development, I actually did already have useful and valuable skills to contribute. Just because I didn’t have the job title and the salary, that didn’t mean that my work was bad or that I was dumb. In fact, my unique “young, hip millennial” perspective and ability to use Google/YouTube to quickly learn new things served me in good stead over the course of my internships. Building that confidence in my abilities was a really invaluable lesson that interning taught me.
Girls Really Do Run The (Corporate) World
I’ve had plenty of positive female role models growing up; my mum, my female relatives, teachers and family friends. Women who just roll up their sleeves and get things done. Women who put in the extra time needed to do things properly. Women who take the initiative and command respect in their own fields. The main difference was, my experience of women was usually in a personal context, not a professional one. Before interning, my work experience, from hospitality, to retail, to private tutoring, told me that leaders and bosses are generally men. Even though I knew that women were bosses too, I hadn’t really had too many chances to see it in practice.
During the course of both of my internships, I had the opportunity to meet, and work closely with, so many certified Boss Women. I’m talking Department Heads, Managing Directors, Senior Management and Chief Executives who brought to the table years of experience, insights, visions, strategies and skills. They could command respect and speak with authority. They had their own side hustles outside of work and were killing it. I learned that women in charge aren’t scary and they don’t have to be aggressive, competitive or masculine like what is so often perpetuated in political discourse. It might sound like a bit of a random lesson, but it’s one that was super important for me.
Now it’s your turn! Have you ever been an intern? Maybe you’ve taken one under your wing? Do you relate to any of the lessons I’ve shared above?
I have a little sister, Olivia. She is small and very funny (Charlie and Lola, anyone?). Actually, my little sister is thirteen, and not so small. Precisely nine and a half years younger than me.
We talk a lot. We are sisters after all. But, like any close relationship, there’s a lot that is left unsaid.
Here are 7 honest truths I’m too nice (and too awkward) to tell my little sister.
We Were Fine Before You Came Along
Kicking this off with nice warm and fuzzy feels, I’d just like to remind you that our family was doing just fine without you. Before you came along, we were the perfect nuclear family. Mum and dad, a brother and a sister, a tabby cat named Tiger. I had my swing set in the backyard and a cubby house and, when Josef wasn’t causing trouble and breaking all the things, basically the undivided attention of mum and dad. It was a great time. I was the youngest and enjoyed all the benefits that come along with that. That is, until you decided to be born.
It all started with Tiger. Mum was scared that our crazy cat would scratch The Baby like he had scratched all of our furniture and family members by this point, and decided he had to go (he was here first so…?). From that point on, I knew. Everything had to be about The Baby, (oh btw, I called you “The Baby” or “It” up until about a week after you were born).
While it was the tiniest bit exciting to be getting a new baby sister, I’ll still never forgive you for coming in and turning everything upside-down.
2. You Were The Most Annoying Baby
I don’t know who you thought you were, but you came in like a wrecking ball. Firstly, the crying. You did not stop crying. But it wasn’t just crying, it was screaming. Constantly.
I thought maybe we could be friends and I would rock your crib and sing lullabies to you, but I guess the demons within you just couldn’t be quieted. There was one particularly memorable car trip where all five of us were driving to a far-away baby store to buy a fancy three-wheeler pram for you and your ungrateful baby butt did not stop screaming on the forty minute drive there, nor the forty minute drive back.
Then there was the constant maintenance. Who would have known that babies need to be watched all the time, fed, changed, bathed, dressed, burped, walked. And when mum and dad had a bit too much on their plates, guess who the responsibility fell to? (We both know our brother was useless). No Year 5 kid should have to come home, finish their marine life diorama, write out their spelling words (look, cover, write, check), and then change a dirty nappy and run a lukewarm bath.
3. You’ll Never Know The Struggle
Mum and dad came to Australia with two kids and $50 in their pocket (ok I’m exaggerating here but you get the gist).
We used to have one car, a 1987 Toyota Corolla. We would each get one present for Christmas, plus a chocolate Santa (I would, without fail, trade my toy for Josef’s chocolate). Our pocket money was $1 a week. We went on holidays once a year to some sleepy coastal town and stayed in MOTELS, Olivia! Do you even know what those are??
Josef and I slept in a bunk bed. We only had one bathroom in the house back then. All of our clothes were hand-me-downs from our older cousins. Name brand food was not a thing in our household. And McDonald’s? Nah fam, there’s food at home.
The one computer in our house was a cube. So was our TV. We had five channels to choose from, and whatever mum picked was what we all had to watch (actually nothing much has changed there). There was none of the Foxtel, Youtube, or Netflix choice of today. And if I wanted to talk to my friends after school, I’d have to wait until whoever was using the dial-up internet to be done, only to not be able to reach my friend because HER dad was using the internet.
These days, as hard as mum and dad try not to spoil you, you still live in a world where you have significantly more choice, not just in which Youtube channel you’ll waste your time on tonight, but even in what you choose to pursue. Mum and dad worked their butts off, day in and day out, so that Josef and I could have piano lessons and play soccer on the weekends. For you though, it’s not such a big deal.
4. You’ll Never Be Me, So Don’t Even Try
I know you look up to me. You include it in every one of those exercises at school where they make you write about someone you look up to (or maybe you’re just trying to play the system and get extra points by writing this mushy stuff). I know you come and hang out in my room when I’m not around (weird much?). I know you steal my expensive hair products and play with my makeup (at least you used to a couple of years back). I’m glad you see me as a positive role model, but it’s also a bit scary because it’s a huge responsibility.
The fact is, you’ll never be me. But you know what, you’re you, and that’s infinitely better in my opinion. You have your own unique gifts- natural confidence, musical talent, quick wit, determination and the crazy ability to make friends everywhere you go.
When you were a toddler, this old lady on a bench at Parramatta station told Dad and me that you would one day be a famous speaker. You were constantly talking, asking questions and had no problem walking up to strangers and delivering earnest lectures on what you had for breakfast that day. When I was a kid, I was super shy and preferred to watch the world go by from the comfort of my pram.
You’ll never be me, you’ll be better.
5. When I’m Mean To You, I Really Don’t Mean it
You will have noticed by now, Olivia, that “I love you” isn’t really in our family’s vocabulary. Instead, we say things like “your nose is a bit flat, but nothing surgery can’t fix” (Dad), or “You’ll never get a husband” (Mum), or “Why is one of your eyes bigger than the other?” (Josef) and “You’re literally the most annoying person I know” (Me).
When I tease you endlessly for mispronouncing one word, or make quality memes out of that picture where you’re only blinking with one eye, when I tell you to get out of my room and roast the fact that you’re still too uncoordinated to spread nutella on your toast, please believe that it’s the unhealthy way I’ve learned to say “I love you”.
When you get 98% on your science test and I ask about the other 2%, I hope you can see that I’m really, really proud of you. When you come first in the 100m sprint and I tell you that no one cares, what I’m really saying is, get out of my room so I can text my friends about how awesome my sister is in peace. I just can’t bring myself to say the words because… ew.
You just have to read between the lines around here. Sorry.
6. You’re Actually A Really Talented And Cool Individual
High school is a weird time. Cliques and stereotypes abound and before you know it, you’re in the Popular Girls or the Band Nerds or the Sporty Group or The Couples That Spend All Of Lunch Time Cuddling And Staring Into Each Other’s Eyes Only To Break Up The Next Week Club.
Everyone is insecure, trying to forge their unique identities, going through puberty at varying speeds and desperate to fit in. It’s easy to find a group that accepts you and then assume the ‘role’ that you feel you have to play.
What’s more, the whole school system is in on it. When you get your report at the end of the term and it says A for English and C for maths, you start to put yourself into a box and limit yourself to what your teachers and your marks determine is true about you.
Don’t let anyone else decide who you are except you. You’re not just “The Pretty One”, “The Nice One”, “The Funny One” or “The Smart One”, you can literally be anything you want to be.
7. And The Seventh Thing, I’ll Probably Never Tell You, You Make Me Love You ❤
Yup. It’s true.
No matter what you do, and where you go, I’ll always be there for you.
Always trying to convince you you’re adopted.
Your big sister Layla.
Do you relate to my family’s dysfunctional communication style? I want to hear about it in the comments!
The first time I ever read about impostor syndrome, I recognised it in myself immediately. If you haven’t heard of it, impostor syndrome is defined as “an individual experience of self-perceived intellectual phoniness”. In other words, feeling like all of your accomplishments and successes come down to either somehow having cheated the system or just plain luck.
The phenomenon was introduced by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978. It’s since been described as feeling like a fraud, feeling like praise is undeserved or wrongly attributed, feeling like any second, everyone is going to realise that you’ve been faking it this whole time and you’re actually a talentless, a try-hard, over-privileged sham.
Impostor syndrome is often associated with high achieving women with perfectionist tendencies. I’m not really sure why that is. It could be that we feel we have something to prove and so work harder, only to then feel like all that hard work was somehow ‘inauthentic’. It could be that we compare ourselves to other women, discounting our own accomplishments because they don’t fit what society seems to value in women.
Men also experience impostor syndrome. Again, it’s usually the high achievers, the ones who link their accomplishments with their own intrinsic self-worth. The ones who can never seem to be good enough.
The funny thing is, impostor syndrome isn’t just about thinking you’re not good enough. It’s also about thinking you’re so good that it can’t possibly be real. This weird combination of low self esteem and hubris makes it even more confusing to approach.
What it looks like
We try to rebrand our fear of putting ourselves out there as modesty. We work extra hard to attain good grades or excellent feedback but can’t be proud because we probably put in twice the effort of anyone else. We know that we deserve that promotion but we’re also sure that someone with real ‘natural talent’ could easily overtake us if they wanted to.
The worst part of all of this in my opinion, is that we’re so afraid of failure, that we refuse to even try in the first place. We say things like “Who do I think I am to be applying for this position?”, “Who am I to offer advice?” and “What’s the point of starting if I’m not going to be the best?”
See, therein lies the problem. We’re not satisfied with trying and failing. We’re not satisfied with average. We think that if we’re not at the top, then we’ve wasted our time, embarrassed ourselves and ruined our reputation. While people are always trying to frame perfectionism as a good thing, I think it’s actually holding so many of us back.
We think that holding ourselves to higher standards means that we’ll do better work, but the reverse is often true. Being afraid of failure means that we’re less likely to seek help and advice from people who could seriously help us improve. We hoard the work instead of delegating and end up stressed, burnt out and frustrated. It comes as no surprise, then, that impostor syndrome is linked to depression, generalized anxiety and low self-esteem.
How to overcome it
Impostor syndrome is hard to overcome. It’s very nature is illogical, so simply talking yourself out of it isn’t going to cut it in most cases. Just like overcoming any fear, I think it may be helpful to confront it head on with these actions:
1. Talk To People To Realise That Everyone Is Faking It
Whether you’re going for a professional role, inspired to start your own business or put yourself out there in some way, opening up to someone and admitting that you feel out of your depth can help take some of that pressure off. In most cases, you’ll be surprised to hear the other person tell you that they also have no idea what they’re doing. The fact is, everyone has their flaws and challenges and no one is perfect. When you take down that façade, you open up brand new potential for learning and growth.
Communication is key. Have you ever spoken to the CEO of your company? Have you ever had a conversation with a successful business owner that you admire? The chances are that if you did take the time to reach out and have that chat, you’d realise that behind all the titles, corporate suits and personal branding, there’s a person just like you who shows up every day and gives it a go. They might even have experienced a touch of impostor syndrome too!
2. Give Yourself Permission To Fail
This is a trick that I used to use before every high school exam. I would ask myself: what’s the worst that could happen? If I score less than my desired mark, will it be the end of the world? No. If I fail this exam, will it be the end of the world? No. At the end of the day, I still have my health, a family that loves me. And yes, I’m sure I’ll still pass the exam.
A scientist doesn’t throw in the towel when she gets results that aren’t in line with her original hypothesis. She simply makes some detailed notes, might adjust her approach, reset the experiment, and do it again. It’s nothing personal, it’s just science.
Practice failing on purpose. If you’re uncoordinated, sign up for a dance class. If you’re a terrible singer, go to a karaoke bar and get up on stage. The purpose isn’t just to learn something new, but also to learn that failure isn’t the end of the world. So what, your surfing instructor said you were the worst student he’s ever taught- you’re still closer to success than the people wading in the shallow end.
The truth is, most situations are not life and death. A lot of the stressing that we do and extra effort that we put in- staying up studying for hours or putting in overtime at work- probably has a very minor, if not negative, effect on our results. I’d challenge you to honestly ask yourself:
“What’s the worst that could happen if I politely decline checking my emails outside of hours?”
“What’s the worst that could happen if I leave this ‘urgent’ task until tomorrow?”
“What’s the worst that could happen if I start the business and then it fails?”
Maybe your concerned about what other people will think. In reality, people don’t judge us half as much as we think they do, and even if they did, isn’t that their problem and not ours? In any case, even when we do make mistakes and fail, we end up learning something new along the way, bringing us ever closer to success.
3. Just Do It.
I admire people who just jump in and strike while the iron is hot. People who don’t worry about what others will think or what could possibly go wrong. People who trust their intuition. Yes, some people are born fearless, but if you’re a serial overthinker and contingency planner like me, this doesn’t come naturally.
Set yourself a challenge to step outside of your comfort zone: start that blog/website/YouTube channel or side business. Apply for that job that’s just a little out of your reach. Send that random unsolicited email to that person whose career you admire. Put your hand up for promotions and awards.
Set yourself a date and time. Get your equipment ready. Make yourself a to-do list. Give yourself the same respect that you would give your employer by showing up on time and giving 100%.
If you fail, you fail. At least you can say you tried.
Do you suffer from Impostor Syndrome? What’s something that you’ve been holding off from trying due to feelings of inadequacy? Let me know in the comments below if you have any tips on how you overcome it!
When I was a kid, I was a reader. I still am, but I’m a lot less diligent these days.
My favourite author, like many kids at that age, was Roald Dahl, and I spent hours avoiding interaction with real humans in favour of burying my head in one of his outrageous stories.
I often felt like the characters in those stories were my friends, from poor Matilda who is misunderstood by her family, Charlie, who doesn’t fit in with all the other kids at school and the little orphan girl Sophie who befriends the BFG and gets to meet the Queen. Although the plots were pretty extraordinary, I think that I related to these characters because I felt like I was misunderstood, like I didn’t quite fit in and was maybe a little bit weird.
So… what’s this got to do with starting a blog?
C.S Lewis is often quoted as having once written “We read to know we are not alone.”
I’d take this a step further in our day and age and say we watch youtube channels and TV shows, we tag each other in relatable memes, we scan our instagram feeds, we listen to music and we travel to far-away places to know that we are not alone.
In many ways, social media allows people to curate an ideal identity. Often, these profiles are so perfect that it’s unattainable and we leave feeling like we’re not good enough. Sometimes, we confide in our friends and they just can’t relate to whatever we’re going through, leaving us back at square one thinking “Am I weird for feeling this way?”.
I often search for reviews and opinion pieces online just so I can finally let out a sigh of relief and say “phew, it’s not just me!”
I wanted to start a blog for that little girl who still lives inside me. The one who felt out of place as a frizzy-haired, brown-ish girl in her all-white German preschool, the German-speaking-curly-haired-brown-ish girl in her Australian primary school, the acne-ridden-braces-wearing-still-frizzy-haired-awkward teenager in high school and the 22 year old “adult” who sometimes still feels like she’s faking it to this day.
I know many people won’t relate, and that’s ok. But I wanted to start a blog just so someone, someday might come across something I’ve written and say “wow, I thought that was just me!” From book reviews to health and beauty to random life musings, I hope that everyone can at least take a little something from this blog.
If I’m completely honest, I’m also writing this blog for myself. I’m forcing myself out of my comfort zone by opening up my opinions, personal experiences and thoughts to anyone who would like to read them (which is terrifying). I’m forcing myself to believe that my voice is valuable and valid. And I’m challenging myself to post regularly, be candid and engage with my community.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading. I love you.
Leave a comment to let me know your thoughts- do you ever read to know you are not alone?