Girl at the beach

Who am I and what the hell am I doing?

Dear 25 year old me,

You’ll possibly never stop being surprised by how people perceive you. When people compliment you, it’s completely surreal. Surely, they’re talking about someone else.

You were asked this week about how you just had everything so sorted, so under control. Someone who… has it all and… has it all together?

You think, “Who is this amazing person that they’re referring to?”. They clearly can’t be talking about you, because you definitely don’t have it under control. In fact, quite the opposite. What a hot mess you are.

Perhaps you just have a really brave front.

Brave. Also not a word that you’d associate with you.

Don’t get me wrong kiddo, this isn’t a pity party, it’s just an acceptance of the difference of opinion. Understanding that you don’t quite feel as good about yourself like how other people think of you and it’s apparently totally normal to feel this way.

Imposter syndrome, they say. It seems to be the phrase of the year and while you don’t want to hop onto the bandwagon, it’s certainly something that resonates deeply with you. Particularly because one of it’s roots is to compare your successes to other people’s successes, and when you fall short – which is inevitable – you feel like a failure as a result.

The question you’re actually asking is, “Who am I and what the hell am I doing?”.

The honest truth is, even today, you still don’t know. Speaking to you at 25 years old, you would have answered with, “I’m a passionate designer, a go-getter and I’m going to stay creative and do what I love until my last breath,” you’d certainly add, “I want to make a difference.”.

Wow, how amazing that all sounds.

Today, you’re a business owner, a conference organiser, a committee member and many more things that seem to just keep adding to your bio. Really, you seem to be doing more digital strategy and business things that really aren’t the roles you expected would define your dream role.┬áSure, you get to be creative to an extent in your day-to-day, but how did we deviate so far from the original path?

Not to mention, how far out of your comfort zone you are – sometimes feeling like you’re not doing the best that you can be because often, you’re just figuring it out as you go.

Yet here we are. Have you gained or lost your identity along the way? How did you get here? Were any of these paths of your own brave choosing? Have you just ridden off coat-tails along the way to get here?

Are you brave?

Absolutely not.

It scares the complete life out of you that someone might ask you a question which they’d expect that you should know the answer to. Your professional role is literally to know everything. After all, you’re the studio manager of a leading digital agency – a person in the Perth industry that apparently quite a few people know of, and someone with over a decade of experience in the space. So many people look to you to come up with the solutions, the ideas, the innovation and the inspiration. Phew, that’s a fair bit of pressure… every day.

But alas, you don’t know the answers to everything, even if you’ve self-placed this unnecessary pressure on yourself.

It came to your realisation the other day though that literally the more you learn, the less you seem to know. You know what, though? That’s fine. What you’re still learning though is to how to accept this.

The next hardest thing to accept is being okay with how others perceive you, because you do the same to them. A very amazing Denise Jacobs said some wise words about this at Web Directions 2015, being that “you can’t compare your inner self with someone’s outer self.”

You’re not quite there yet, but talking about it is probably the first step to overcoming it.

Be brave, kiddo.

Be brave to accept that you don’t know everything, nor will you be amazing at all things, but we can always learn something from someone else and there’s always a chance that there’s something that someone else might learn from you too.

Sometimes, the things that you find the easiest to do in life are because you’ve spent a lifetime mastering them. Others might struggle with these things that you might take for granted. You might not even count them as skills in your book.

This week, let’s focus on accepting the compliments and being less critical of yourself.

Until next time…