Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Two days ago, I sent out a tweet that says, “The more I learn about code, the less I realize I know, and the less confident I feel about teaching people how to code. Compound this with the fact that I’m writing a course AND selling it”.
That sums up ho…

This content originally appeared on Zell Liew and was authored by Zell Liew

Two days ago, I sent out a tweet that says, “The more I learn about code, the less I realize I know, and the less confident I feel about teaching people how to code. Compound this with the fact that I’m writing a course AND selling it”.

That sums up how I’m feeling these two days. If I were to put it in a nice way—I feel like shit. I haven’t been sleeping well the entire week. I woke up today at 3am these two days.

When I had dinner with my wife yesterday, she said I look like I might be better off dead. Obviously that’s not what she said in my face, but that’s what I inferred.

It’s bad.

One of the things I tend to do whenever I feel like shit is to go on Twitter and rant about my feelings. That’s why I wrote that tweet.

I’m lucky in a sense that I can rant, and some people would reply. Those that reply are nice people, and they encourage me to go on. So, thank you Anneke, Brendan, Dave, Daneil and everyone who said something nice.

It’s heartwarming, I appreciate it a lot.

Usually, I’m able to put aside the Imposter Syndrome and continue to get things done.

But this is just one of the times where reassurance from outside doesn’t even work. When I turn away from these tweets, I feel the fear and the pressure to perform. I feel that my writing still sucks, I don’t know if the code that I’m sharing is the best one out there, and I’m afraid of leading people down the wrong path.

I know I’m not the only one suffering from Impsoter Syndrome. Even Sara Soueidan, who is a developer I respect, has it, and has produced lesser content because of Imposter Syndrome. And that’s such a waste. I benefit a lot from Sara’s articles, and I would love to read more of her content.

From a bigger perspective, I know that everyone watching this video suffer from Imposter Syndrome in a way, or you wouldn’t be watching this. If we could all muster up our courage and still put things out there, as if Imposter Syndrome didn’t affect us, how much richer would this world be?

So, what do we do with Imposter Syndrome?

Honestly, I don’t feel comfortable with sharing about Imposter Syndrome, because it’s highly personal, and it might adversely affect the sales for my upcoming launch. But I know that this is the best moment I can share, since I’m in touch with the fear right now. Getting this out is important enough to warrant a decrease in monetary incentives for me.

So I hope what I’m about to share helps you in some way.

A disclaimer upfront, my story might not sound tragic like it’s the end of the world. Some of you would think that I have a blessed life, and shouldn’t feel so bad about it. But it does feel like the end of the world to me. It’s my world anyway.

I think what I need to share at this point is that Imposter Syndrome doesn’t affect me much on regular daily basis. When I notice I know next to nothing about coding or designing, it motivates me me instead, because I know I have so much more to learn and I love the learning process.

It doesn’t affect me when I write too, because I know everything that I have written so far is helpful to someone.

It affects me when I try to make money with the skills that I have learned. I think I am not good enough to make $whatever amount of money I’m aiming for.

And that means, interviews for jobs, selling to potential clients, selling courses online to people like you.

Is this particular case, it affects me a lot because of five reasons.

First, I’m launching a course next month, and I’m selling stuff.

Second, I need the money. I made an agreement with my wife that, if I don’t make $20,000 in this launch. We have items coming up in the next two years, and I can’t sit around waiting for money to drop anymore.

Third, many of you won’t know this, but I’ve been trying to make this teach for a living thing work out for the past two years. At the beginning, I was able to make $2000 a month—and that’s decent income—but the more I write, the more I produce, the less revenue I get.

So, in recent months, I get way less that $500 a month. I’ll be lucky if it even hits that amount. So I’m kind of living on my savings. But because we have items coming in, I can’t do that anymore.

Fourth, and this is the one that makes things worst, and why I might be deterring you away from my course. Whenever you sell anything, you need testimonials, rightL You need people to believe in your product.

I reached out to the folks who bought pre-ordered the course before and asked them for their experiences. Nobody replied.

I don’t know if it’s just the holiday season, or if they have been so busy to a point where they couldn’t go through the course, or because the course is simply just lacklustre, or because they don’t want to start until the full course is completed.

There are many different reasons, but I don’t know the answer. I can only let these reasons swim in my head and when I consider that the course isn’t good enough, I get pretty upset.

I’ve been trying to teach web development for over four years now by sharing what I know online. I identify myself with it already. I want to help the world learn web development. But if I am not helping, then what’s the point. If the courses I’m writing isn’t helping, then what’s the point of writing and selling them in the first place?

Fifth, I don’t want to get a job. I love what I’m doing now, teaching and sharing, and I don’t want to feel trapped behind a job. I have not freelanced for such a long time that it’s intimidating to even think about it. I tried to think of freelancing as a plan B last year, but it didn’t work out. I came back to products again.

So these are conversations that I have with myself. Mostly about the value that I bring for people, specifically with regards to results and money.

The reasons differ slightly everytime when I encounter Imposter Syndrome and I get into such an emotional state, but it large hinges around the feeling that I not good enough to charge, and I haven’t been producing enough value.

So that’s the reasons behind this current bout of severe Imposter Syndrome. As I write it down and as I talk about it, it’s getting better, so you don’t feel like I’m better off dead right now.

But how can you deal with Imposter Syndrome. That’s what this video is all about right. You came here to hear that.

What I realized about Imposter Syndrome

I noticed three things: my Imposter Syndrome gets severe when

One, I don’t take care of myself well.

I skip exercises, I eat junk food, I don’t meditate, I coop myself up in my house and don’t talk to anyone (which happens a lot if you work from home)

Two, I don’t give myself time to do what I want to do

By that I don’t mean watching Netflix or relaxing by the beach. I want to code, I want to learn, but I haven’t been learning to code or design for a long time. That’s what got me into this line in the first place. I feel that I’m lagging behind now, and I want to improve my skills.

But because I need to write, and I have a course to write, and I need to produce content, and I need to think about selling and marketing, I don’t give myself any leeway to learn to code or design.

I think it’s been a year and a half now. It’s eating at me.

Three, I try to control things that I can’t control.

I want results, I want others to think that I’m good enough for their wallets, I want others to respond and acknowledge me, and so on.

These are things that I cannot control. You can say that I’m shit right now and I can’t stop it.

What to do about Imposter Syndrome

Once I realize these things, I know what I need to do. I need to take better care of myself, go exercise, eat better, go out for a walk, and find people to talk to.

I know I need to give myself the time to learn, code and design without the pressure of delivering results. So, not coding salespages and stuff like that, but generally things I want to try and build.

I also know I need to focus on the things I can do and have planned to do. For sales, I planned some things in advance, so I need to execute them all.

Then, just let the results speak for itself. If it works, it works. If it doesn’t, then maybe the universe is telling me to get a job.

The world doesn’t end.

Hopefully, things work out… That’s all I can say. Hopefully, things work out.

I believe it will.

I hope this helped in some way

This content originally appeared on Zell Liew and was authored by Zell Liew

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