Impostor Syndrome: How to Keep it at Bay and Out of your Booth. Guest post by Holly Sickinger.
Impostor Syndrome is one of those flashy psycho-buzzwords that comes up a lot on social media, but what exactly is it? It’s the feeling you don’t belong, that you don’t deserve a chance to shine, that you are not worthy. There are so many reasons why we as humans feel this way, usually based on some type of past conditioning that we have experienced. It’s an extremely common feeling. Famous celebrities, authors, even former first lady Michelle Obama have discussed their experiences with “Impostor Syndrome”. How does all of this relate to voiceover?
Mindset is an important part of building a thriving voiceover business. Changing your thought patterns can help your reach your career goals.
For a long time, I dealt with Impostor Syndrome, but I didn’t know what it was. When I was working to complete my master’s degree, I was constantly afraid that the work I was doing wasn’t good enough. I repeatedly told my now husband that I was going to fail out of the program. He would laugh at me as each semester I earned another round of A’s and produced a model final portfolio. I didn’t understand what was going on until I read about the topic many years later. I was letting myself fall victim to Impostor Syndrome.
During a “Words for Your Website” class that I took with Lynn Norris, she said Impostor Syndrome is the fear of being uncomfortable. This idea allows us to look at the real cause of the problem. The reason we feel unworthy is because we are charting new territory. We are unsure of what we are doing, so we feel that we don’t belong. It totally makes sense why we would try to talk ourselves out of doing something challenging. It’s a way to protect ourselves, but it also holds us back from achieving truly great things.
How does Imposter Syndrome hold us back in the booth?
Certain thoughts might look like, “I don’t deserve this job,” “All of my reads are terrible,” “I’m not talented enough to be successful at voiceover.” How many times have these thoughts run through your mind? The problem with this cycle is that if you listen to these thoughts, you don’t push yourself beyond your comfort zone. You don’t go for those jobs you’re sure you won’t book because you aren’t good enough, so your career stalls. You can’t move forward and grow without taking chances, both in voiceover and in life. True happiness lies beyond what is safe and easy. Complacency is an illusion of contentment, but it doesn’t bring true joy.
There is hope for dealing with Impostor Syndrome. Being aware is the first step. Knowing Impostor Syndrome is just a set of limiting beliefs that we can manage puts us in control. When I was coaching with James Andrews for my narration demo, he told me a story about an interview he had seen with the great actor Anthony Hopkins to help me with my own Impostor Syndrome. Hopkins described how we must parent those voices of self-doubt by gently and kindly tending to them, not judging, just giving them space and validation, until we can move on and not let them take over.
When I booked my first live-directed voiceover session, so many thoughts of how I wasn’t ready started running through my mind. “What if I can’t do what they ask me to?” “What if they realize they shouldn’t have booked me?” “I don’t have enough experience for this.” “I can’t do this.” “I am most definitely going to fail.” Every time I had one of these thoughts I had to stop and talk myself through how these thoughts weren’t actually reality and remind myself that I did, in fact, deserve this opportunity. It was a long week of working through the mental chatter, but I ended up having a blast during the session. It was the first time I finally started to gain confidence in myself as a voiceover artist.
Impostor Syndrome kept me from pursuing voiceover for years. Once I realized I had power over my thoughts and found the courage to take the leap, things began to change, opportunities presented themselves (like working for Natasha Marchewka), and I found myself loving my work. I was no longer stuck in a job I hated just because I thought I didn’t deserve better. Having a supportive community around me has been incredibly helpful, but also being able to trust that I deserve to be where I am, in an industry I love, is invaluable. I may still be a work in progress, but I am finally in a place where I believe I deserve success. You can get there too, with a little faith.
Holly Sickinger is a voice over artist and classically trained coloratura soprano with degrees in musical theater and music education who is hardworking, reliable, and goes above and beyond to provide top customer service for her clients.
I don’t know that I have ever really struggled with this but it’s something that I TOTALLY understand and can appreciate. It can easily sabotage us from putting forth our best, and I get how handcuffing it can be. For anyone struggling with imposter syndrome I’d recommend taking 5 minutes to look at yourself in the mirror with some Stuart Smalley affirmations – I’m being serious – and letting that all sink in for a while. It’s worth it!