Have you ever been at networking drinks and felt intimidated when the person you were meeting with started name dropping all the people he’s been working with or all the insider info he had about the industry? You probably felt inadequate and worried that you were way behind everyone else in your career with no hope of ever catching up. Maybe you started to question your decision to work in entertainment. The truth is, we’ve all been there…and it’s not a great feeling. But the even bigger, yet more secret, truth is that the person across the table often feels the exact same way. So before you get totally down on yourself, remember that you’re not alone -- very often, the other person is faking it.
Impostor syndrome is very real, and it can become even more pronounced in Hollywood where you’re contending with tons of big egos. Many people feel the need to brag about themselves, often as a defensive mechanism or because it’s a strategy they think will help them close the deal. And even though their behavior may not make you feel very good about yourself, there’s nothing you can do to change it. Instead, you need to assess your own reaction and whether or not you’re being too hard on yourself.
Think about it -- it’s not possible to watch every show, read every article and book, keep up regular relationships with every person you meet, go on networking drinks every single night, and give your 100% at work. Even if you try, you'll let other areas of your life slip, which is not only unhealthy but also counterproductive to working in an industry where stories about the human experience are at the core of the business! So you do what you can. And so does everyone else. You’ll have your areas of expertise, and others will have their own. Whether you realize it or not, sometimes you might even be the one who sounds intimidating, depending on who you’re meeting with. You are never alone in this feeling of inadequacy. That simple fact should help ease your discomfort.
But let’s take it one step further. Reminding yourself that others are in the same boat might calm your nerves, but when you're feeling down, you should give yourself a confidence boost as well. Instead of dwelling on your shortcomings, remind yourself of what you do know. What are some of your favorite accomplishments? What are you really good at? What subject could you consider yourself an expert in? Write it all down if you need to or tell your story out loud while you're stuck in traffic, and use it to reaffirm your self-worth.
You bring your own unique value to the table -- never forget that. Yes, you’re going to have inevitable moments of self-doubt, often the result of your interactions with others, but to succeed, you’re going to have to get through them. And the only way to do that is to celebrate your achievements and knowledge and give yourself the confidence to continue pushing forward.
Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan