[X] what you [Y]

Because “just do what you love” translates as “I have never even imagined being poor“. But like all statements which are simply wrong, acknowledging a little extra complexity can extract a useful lesson.

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The Importance Of Not Being Good Enough

Imposter syndrome is one of the “creative” spectrum of self-imposed mental disorders. The internet allows thousands of people to publish their work to acclaim, audiences, and every other kind of success, all without the grueling scutwork we secretly think we’re meant to endure first. It still takes an enormous quantity of work to truly succeed on the web, but because it’s all “actually related to the thing you’re doing” instead of the decade of shoveling shit for richer people we’ve been trained to expect, people worry that they’ve somehow cheated their way in.

The resulting imposter syndrome is the secret belief that you’re not good enough, and could at any time be discovered. At which point an Omnipotent Usher Of True Art will presumably appear in an immaculate uniform and metaphorically escort you out of our career.

The obvious response to imposter syndrome: Embrace it! If you’re going to pretend, pretend to be as awesome! Pretend to be amazing! Pretend to be Raul Julia pretending to be Gomez Addams pretending to be a French swashbuckler. Pretending is fun!

Of course we all working to appear better than we are. That is the entire point of making things. That’s why we create and build and edit and polish and improve and redo, and then shove these things online to stand in for us. Because they’re not us, they’re just the best bits of us, the bits we want to share.

If you feel like output isn’t good enough, you’re right. You can’t put pen to paper (or whatever) and expect to be worthy of the world. Of course it isn’t good enough. But you can make it good enough. Knowing that is what makes you a creator in the first place. It’s unfortunate that the feeling is so terrible until you understand it.

So bring the Borg judo and absorb that enemy into yourself. Transform the belief that it’s all garbage into an urge to research, rework, repolish. Turn your psychoses’ own strengths against them. Because “their” strength is your strength. All these thoughts and feelings are bits of your own brain, and you need to make them work for you instead of fighting against them. Neural civil war only gets things done in Fight Club. In our reality all it creates is orphaned ideas in a thousand unfinished drafts.

What you make isn’t good enough. But you can make it good enough. That’s your job.


For more mental judo, reverse the polarity of embarrassing memories with 5 Nerd Hacks That Make You Less Of A Jerk.