Have you ever felt ashamed of your talent? Like you weren’t good enough, like your accomplishments were nothing special, like you just wanted to hide?
Like many creative and entrepreneurial-minded women, you have probably felt the sting of imposter syndrome before. For me, I have been struggling with it my entire career. As a writer who is paid to think creatively and engage with others through social media, I have often used the fact that I work for others as a way to hide. I never wanted to be in the spotlight and was almost ashamed to accept praise. Because of this, my career and my accomplishments have never really felt like my own.
As this new year started to unfold, I took the time to really evaluate why I feel this way. Why am I constantly trying to deflect praise and accolades and insist that they belong to someone else? There is no simple answer—But what I did discover is that there is a way to start getting over these feelings of inadequacy - and that’s to take small steps towards being the pioneer of your own life story, to take pride in the journey, and to _ (gulp!) _ accept that your talent is important, useful and needed.
So this year, I am resolving to come out of my shell and start being proud of who I am and what I have to offer. But how do I start?
Be a Goal-Getter
I love the idea of a new year’s resolution. It has always felt like a fresh start, with a brand new year stretching before me like a blank slate. The problem I’ve always had, though, is that I make my goals far too vague. Things like, “start a website,” “start sharing my story,” or “learn a new language” are all great goals, but they lack the clarity needed to actually end up accomplished. I can easily dismiss them as being too lofty and the result is me pushing them off and, before I know it, the year is almost over.
This year, I am making my goals much more attainable by breaking them down into easy-to-accomplish bites. To help me come out of my shell, I am tackling the goal of sharing my story. But what I have done is set quarterly goals for myself to make this an achievable reality. Start by finding a blog, website, or even print magazine you are interested in contributing to. Will the story you want to share be a good fit for their readers? If the answer is yes, take the leap and send them a story pitch! What’s the worst that could happen? If they pass, move on to the next one on your list. Eventually, you will find someone who says yes - who believes in your story and your vision.
And just like that, you are on your way to accomplishing one of your goals. Getting started is always the most difficult part of any journey, and you’ve just conquered that hurdle. Feels pretty good, right?
Put Yourself Out There
If you want to come out of your shell, you’ve got to be bold. If you’re an introvert like me, the idea of putting yourself out there is scary. Like “I am feeling nauseous just typing this” kind of scary. The good news is that you don’t have to get up on a stage and talk in front of hundreds of people in order to do this (unless you want to, in which case go for it!). What this does mean is that you need to give yourself a platform and start using it. If you make pins, start a simple ecommerce site to sell them. If you are an artist, launch that online portfolio to get more eyes on your work. If you’ve got an inspirational story to share, start a YouTube channel.
By being bold and sharing your passion and talents with others, you are not only encouraging yourself to come out of your shell, but you are encouraging others, too. Before you know it, you will have formed your very own tribe.
Lean On Me
For me, the biggest part of starting to come out of my shell has been finding that aforementioned tribe. It all started at Yellow Conference 2016, where I met and was inspired by women from all over the country who were being bold in their own lives. Talking with women who were learning to come out of their own shells, even if they didn’t always feel confident or like their ideas and talents mattered, was eye-opening. I knew that there was strength in numbers and that I didn’t have to feel like I was on this journey alone.
I encourage you to seek out your own tribe of like-minded individuals who will support you and cheer you on. Knowing that your dreams and your contributions matter is a powerful antidote to that naysayer in your own mind who tries to tell you to accept the status quo in your life.
Photos by Alandra Michelle