You Aren’t an Impostor

Hey, you there. You, who are worrying about whether people are going to discover that you’re a fraud, an impostor, someone who has no business doing whatever it is you’re doing right now. I’m talking to you.

You aren’t an impostor.

You aren’t a fraud.

You’ve got this.

Yes, I’m talking to you, person who lies awake at night wondering what will happen when people “discover” that you’re full of crap.

And I’m talking to you, person who thinks you have to grandstand and trumpet yourself so that people don’t see that you’re actually scared and shaking.

You’ve got this.

To the person who just got offered a job, or a job interview, or a freelance gig that you feel like you shouldn’t have because you’re “not as good as” other people you know: deal with it. Maybe you’re awesome. Maybe someone is taking a chance on you. Maybe they see something in you that your fear is blinding you to. And if you let yourself just do the job, you’ll get to find out if they’re right.

Hell, fight to make them right. Doing that is exactly the opposite of being a phony.

To you, person who is tired, and thinks that because you’re tired that you’re not “real” about whatever you’re doing, that fatigue makes you an charlatan: to hell with that thinking. Everyone gets tired, even of what they’re most passionate about.

Especially of what they’re most passionate about. That’s why people take breaks.

You’ve got this.

Next time you find yourself in a room full of other people who seem to have their act together, and that makes you feel like you’re nothing, that you’re fake, remember this not-so-secret: everyone else in the room is also a fake, a fraud, an impostor. And we’re all hoping that no one else notices.

The only honest person in the room is the one who says “I don’t have all the answers.” The only honest person in the room is the one who says “Yeah, I’m not 100%, but that’s okay because I’ve got something to contribute here.”

To the person who just had a horrible review at work, at a writer workshop, jamming with some musicians, playtesting a game, whatever, and think that that makes you a sham: that’s called “life.” That’s called “learning.” That’s called “trying to do something.” That’s called “being human.”

You’ve got this.

I’m not going to tell you that I believe in you, because what I think doesn’t matter. Nor does any random person on the Internet, or someone competing for the same job or attention or whatever that you are.

There are real impostors out there. They know they’re impostors, they revel in it, and they use that the rest of us feel like we’re frauds to exploit us. If that’s not what you’re doing, you’re not an impostor.

Here are some other words that might fit you:

Maybe you’re inexperienced. That’s solved with more experiene.

Maybe you’re frightened. That’s solved by calming down, conquering your fear, distracting yourself, or however else you cope.

Maybe you’re in over your head. That happens to all of us, especially those who dare to act as big as we dream.

Maybe you’re tired, angry, sick, sad, distraught, etc. That means you’re human — we can’t be constantly at out best. Shoot, then it wouldn’t be “our best,” but just another day.

Maybe you’re tired, angry, sick, sad, distraught, etc. That means you’re human — we can’t be constantly at our best. Shoot, then it wouldn’t be our best, but just another day. Walk away for as long as you need to; let yourself be human.

Point is, you aren’t an impostor. And because of that, whatever you’re doing, you’ve got this.

– Ryan


13 Responses to You Aren’t an Impostor

  1. Will Huggins says:

    I had this feeling the entire time I was working on Paranet. I didn’t know it was called imposter syndrome at the time.

    • Ryan Macklin says:


      Luckily, when I hired you, I knew you weren’t an impostor, just someone who disagreed with me on whether he could do a job. :)

      – Ryan

  2. I needed to hear this today. Thanks, Ryan.

  3. What a nice post! I think we _all_ need to hear this from time to time. Thank you, Ryan.

  4. I have started offering Impostor Tanking services, free of charge. Send your goon feelings over my way. *cracks knuckles* I’ll take care of ’em while you take care of business.

  5. Christina Stiles says:

    Nicely said, Ryan! And thanks for saying it. :)

  6. Patriarch917 says:

    Thank you for this post. Good encouragement.

  7. Joe Petty says:

    Thank you so much.

  8. Ian says:

    I’ve pretty much resigned myself to terror and uncertainty until the Trinity Continuum rulebook is out, at which point I’ll be able to get actual feedback.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      I can’t say that I know you as well as I know many of my other comrades in tabletop gaming, but you’ve never struck me as a phony. Go forth and rock on, Ian.

      – Ryan

  9. Damian Coyle says:

    I don’t have a job currently, haven’t for a few months. I haven’t had an interview in a while, nor any job offers or anything like that. Am I still an imposter? Feels like I am all the time, and that everyone else is onto that fact.

    • Ryan Macklin says:

      I know a lot of people in your situation, and have been there myself. It’s hard and it sucks, but it doesn’t make you an impostor; it just makes you a citizen of this modern age. :/

      I wish you the best of luck in finding work.

      – Ryan

  10. If this is anybody but Steve Allen, you’re stealing my bit.