3 Ways To Kick Impostor Syndrome For Good

Impostor Syndrome: doubting your skills, talents, or accomplishments and having a persistent internalized fear of being exposed—of being thought of as a fraud.

Raise your hand if any of the below sound familiar:

Knowing in your heart you’re great at what you do but you keep second-guessing yourself.

Frequently falling victim to comparing yourself to others—bands who have gotten where they are faster than you, who are seeing the success that you want, etc

You stop yourself from doing/saying/going after things because you’re worried you’re not ready or people will make fun of you. IE: you don’t apply for that festival because “what’s the point” or you don’t make that attempt because “it’ll never happen for you.”

This is impostor syndrome and it hits even the most seasoned musicians out there—but it doesn’t have to run your life. And the truth is, while I’ve never met a single person who hasn’t dealt with this, you want to start to identify and get a handle on it so that it stops ruining your chances of success. It’s one thing to feel these waves of insecurity—it’s another to let them hold you back.

Because the irony in all of this is that impostor syndrome will make you think you’re not good enough (when really you are) and that fear of not being good enough will be what stops you from chasing your dreams.

And we don’t want that. So, how do you kick it for good, and start showing up as your best self?

Figure out what’s causing it

What’s causing your impostor syndrome to come up in the first place?

As with so many things, if we can first identify what’s causing the problem, we can begin to work on it. So ask yourself, do you remember when you first started to feel this way? If not, that’s ok, just do your best. Start with where you’re at and ask yourself when it flares up the most. Is it on stage? At networking events? In the DMs? When do you feel that overwhelming sense of being “found out” as a fraud begins to creep in?

Write it down and start to pay attention to any common denominators between the events.

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Reframe it—you’re not nervous, you’re excited

There’s a really fascinating thing I learned about our bodies’ response to fear, and I always keep it at the back of my mind when I’m worried about something. And that is, that we respond to fear and excitement the same way.

Think about it. How do you feel when you’re nervous? You get butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, racing heart. What about when you’re excited? Butterflies in your stomach, sweaty palms, a racing heart….the body’s response is the same. This means it comes down to the way we’re thinking about it.

From now on, every time you feel nervous, reframe it as excitement. You’re not nervous to get on stage, you’re excited to share what you love with the people around you. You’re not nervous to go to this networking event, you’re excited to meet new friends.

Always be prepared

The more prepared you are, the less room for those insecure thoughts to get hold of you.

So, get ahead of it. Prepare as much as possible. For instance, if you’re nervous around networking events, first, ask yourself what you’re nervous about. If you feel like you don’t belong, write down all the reasons you do. If you’re worried you’ll run out of things to talk about, prepare a few topics you can chat with anyone about (IE: what brought you here/what do you do/other general ice breakers).

I’ve found that what really stops impostor syndrome in its tracks is preparing because preparation breeds confidence and confidence is the enemy of impostor syndrome.

A few other things you can try:

-Write out a list of 10-20 reasons why you are awesome at what you do. 

-Write out a list of 10-20 reasons people will benefit from your music/live show/etc. (be indulgent here—brag on yourself!)

-Write out a list of 10-20 reasons why you NEED to make this your life’s journey and be a full-time musician – personal & professional reasons welcome (IE: “you want to provide for your family” is just as valid as saying “you want to change someone’s life with your music”).

-Keep a list/folder on your phone or computer of positive/encouraging words from people that love you/your music/help prop you up.

Ultimately, overcoming impostor syndrome takes time, and with each new level you break through to, odds are you’ll have to deal with a new version of it—but that doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, it can be seen as you showing growth and making serious progress. And that’s something to celebrate, and look forward to. You’ve got this!

Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.

Rebecca3 Ways To Kick Impostor Syndrome For Good

12 comments

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  • cookie clicker - January 12, 2021 reply

    Always be prepared! Yes!

  • Peacock Louise - January 13, 2021 reply

    Great advice. I wish I was able to follow it. I seem to be one of those people whose musical muse comes and goes randomly. I know I have written some really good songs, but that ability seems to come and go. It’s frustrating because I see my friends working away and seemingly always able to produce a tune at the drop of a hat.

  • meye1ric - January 13, 2021 reply

    I would have thought Imposter Syndrome means a tendency to copy someone else’s music or style without intending to do so. Do you have any advice / tips on how to avoid unintentionally copy another musician’s work, like a melody line or rhythmic feel. For example when someone says – “Oh that sounds just like…” How can we avoid that?

  • KFD - January 13, 2021 reply

    The “imposer syndrome” is NOT just internal. There’s all sorts of bad operators out there in the music industry, and some of the worst will come in the form of your colleagues & contemporaries (other bands in “the scene”..!). They will attempt to expose you as inadequate or inferior in small aspect of music and then they try and map that onto your entire musical output & existence. Their aim, of course, is to attempt to paralyse you, thereby lessening the danger that you will show THEM up!

    Joe Momma - January 13, 2021 reply

    Especially when you challenge their idol worship

    PTS - January 16, 2021 reply

    VERY good point KFD – I’ve encountered this many times in music and also just in life in general. Imposter syndrome, when it’s internal, can certainly be debilitating, but it is also a good idea to assess the situation and see if perhaps there is the external factors of imposter syndrome occuring – there’s different ways to successfully handle both.

  • Victoria - January 13, 2021 reply

    This such a great post – I have certainly experienced imposter syndrome and it often kicks in when a expansive opportunity shows up . The disguises of fear! Thank you.

  • Bonifacio Dominguez - January 13, 2021 reply

    I had never heard of it. Thank you for the insight. I guess we have to deal with, “am I good enough”. If it was easy everyone would do it. I have seen so many with great talent just give up because it was not happening fast enough. Do it for the music, not the fame and fortune. Be an artist with all the failure, pain and joy.

  • Den - January 13, 2021 reply

    Great advice, but “e.g.” is what I think you meant throughout, not “IE”.
    i.e. means “in other words / that is to say”.
    e.g. means “for example”, and maybe I’m wrong, but this is what I assume you meant in each case.
    We’re mostly writers and songwriters here reading these blogs – these little things matter.

  • Arthur Black - January 14, 2021 reply

    I’m afraid I have to agree with KFD. A musician’s career is out of his/her hands for most of the time. The bad operators referred to are the major player booking agents who, to a man and woman, are on a power and control trip. Due to the massive number of wide-eyed innocents entering the music industry every week, the booking agencies aren’t really looking that hard for talent. You may be far more talented that practically all of the acts on their books, but it doesn’t matter a hoot. Many agents simply book the same acts in the same venues every month, in what is known as the “cut and paste” method of booking venues. They’re just lazy. Then there are the aggressive ones who are real control freaks. If you submitted your CD to them and call them every couple of weeks to see if they’ve listened to it yet, they’re just gonna find it and put it on the bottom of the pile. The more you contact them, the more they keep putting your CD back onto the bottom of the pile.
    So, what to do? If you’re convinced you deserve to be working, especially if you go to venues to see some of the pitiful acts who ARE working, you could go directly to the venues and give them your CD. If it’s good there’s a better than average chance they’ll hire you. If you are indeed a truly talented act the venues will hire you back for return bookings . . at the expense of the agencies’ mediocre acts. More often than not, the agent will hear of this and take steps to shut you down at that venue. They’ve got a big list of lies that they trot out and they just pick the one they think will work the best against you. They’ve had a lot more practice at telling these lies than you could possibly have at countering them, so you’ll lose your gigs at that venue.
    If the venue manager persists in keeping you playing there, the agent will send in out of work bands to walk in, stand and watch you perform, then go to the bar manager and complain about you, saying they’re not staying because they can’t stand your music. I’ve seen THREE young bands in just one Saturday night in one venue where I used to play every Saturday night do that to me. Most Saturday nights it was only one, maybe two, bands that’d come in, not even buy a drink, complain their guts out about me, and storm out. But the guitar player from the band would hang back, trying to get a handle on how I played! Happened every time.
    If that doesn’t get you sacked, out come the rumours that you’re a rapist, a kiddie fiddler, a violent thug, you name it. Of course all the bookers talk to each other often and compare notes. They don’t want to tread on each other’s toes, after all. It doesn’t take long for most, if not all, of them to cooperate with each other in trying to have the independent operator black-banned from the music industry altogether.
    If you still want to keep on working in an industry that has slammed the door on your fingers, you have to keep going further and further into the country and regional areas where the booking agents have less control. You’ll find yourself doing an insane number of kilometers every weekend just to stay busy. Your overheads will eat up most of your gig income and you’ll be working your guts out and getting nowhere.
    I wish every genuinely talented musician the best of luck, but it’s gonna take a lot more than luck, and the machine is jigged to spit you out after thoroughly chewing you to pieces first.

  • skribblio - January 26, 2021 reply

    I wish every genuinely talented musician the best of luck, but it’s gonna take a lot more than luck, and the machine is jigged to spit you out after thoroughly chewing you to pieces first.

  • Jimmy - May 9, 2021 reply

    Grazie per la conversazione, penso é molto utile per tutti I musicisti. L’ importante é che ognuno deve credere per quello che fa, e avere fiducia con le cose che fa per la musica e quello che sente Nel profondo del suo cuore e del anima non fermare Mai se la musica é la nostra vita é deve essere piu forte di noi stessi, avere PAZIENZA, fiducia e continuare, finche arrival il momento giusto e Trovare le persone giust che capirano, tutti I generi musicalli, dei musicisti veramente che HANNO dedicato Tutta la Vita Alla Musica. Ringraziamo tutti che stanno aiutando veramente I musicisti, talentuosi, gli appassionati per la musica…

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