Impostor Syndrome: How I finally learned I was smart

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impostor syndrome

By Betsy Kent, {grow} Community Member

For nine years, the competition on the Internet kept me from knowing that I was smart.

Have you experienced this? It’s an actual psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments despite external evidence of their intelligence and competence.

Having to live with a nagging fear of being  “found out” as not being as smart or talented or experienced as people think is called Impostor Syndrome. And I had it. BAD.

Impostor Syndrome ruled my life

I’m the founder of an Internet marketing company. For eight years I consistently delivered insanely good results for my clients. I’m completely self-taught and I loved my job.

But Impostor Syndrome was with me almost every day … a relentless voice in my head reminding me that my success wasn’t because I was smart. It’s because I was lucky.

Over the years I attended a zillion Internet marketing and Social Media conferences, where I watched and listened to the “gurus” in the field. I was often inspired, but rarely learned anything I hadn’t already figured out on my own. Yet, I was too insecure to get on the stage myself. That voice kept whispering in my ear, “They are so much smarter than you are.”

And then, in one month — October 2012 — my business fell apart. My three largest clients suddenly evaporated. One company’s marketing director took a new job. Another one hired an in-house team. The third client merged with a rival firm.

I felt paralyzed. I knew I had get out there and hustle. But the competition was a lot fiercer than when I started my company. I knew I needed to get moving and develop new business, expand my services, and open an office in the city in order to survive. But my Imposter Syndrome convinced me that I wasn’t smart enough to do it.

Paralyzed, insecure and exhausted

And there was something else: I was exhausted from eight years of non-stop long hours, intense focus on the needs of my clients, and a relentless need to stay on top of never-ending changes in the industry.

So there I was. Scared. Insecure. Burned out. And hanging out with a voice in my head that was telling me to quit. A pretty sad scenario.

I knew that to survive I needed to find a way to move forward. If I was going to live through this I needed to deconstruct my business and my life and reconsider everything I did piece by piece. I was determined to uncover something that was fun, exciting and stimulating to make me feel great about myself, and my business. Basically, I had to kill that voice in my head or quit.

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

I spent time analyzing the parts of my life that gave me energy and confidence. I discovered that what I really loved was the magic that happened when I explained new ideas to a client. I loved seeing the light bulb go off.

What an epiphany! What I loved was teaching. When I was teaching, I felt completely confident. There was no voice telling me I wasn’t smart.

I re-built my life and my business around this core idea and now I’m a full-time marketing teacher and a coach. My students and clients are entrepreneurs who want to change their mindset about Internet marketing.

My students tell me that my courses are more inspiring than any Internet marketing program, webinar or class they’ve ever attended. They send me emails with their Google Analytics metrics to show me how their influence has grown. One student reported that the very first blog she published after taking my course did more for her business than anything she had done before.

It took me nine years but Impostor Syndrome has finally left me alone.

I am smart.

I am competent.

And I’m finally happy.

How about you?

betsy kentBetsy Kent is the President of Be Visible Associates, focusing on content marketing, blogging & social media marketing instruction and coaching.

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