Filled With Insecurities
When I started blogging two years ago, I struggled with feelings of insecurity. I knew that I could write well in academic contexts, but I wasn’t sure whether that skill would translate to the internet. I worried that my writing would be too dry, or that I’d come across as too weird.
The first few blog posts that I wrote were a challenge. I overedited each sentence as I went, trying to get everything just perfect. I worried about the content too: I had chosen to write about my sobriety and wondered whether I was oversharing.
When I hit “publish,” I was excited but also cringing. I was absolutely terrified of how people would respond, and I seriously considered deleting each post as soon as I made it.
I’ve been thinking about those early days of blogging a lot this week, because I’ve just started a new creative endeavor: A YouTube channel. The experience has brought back all the feelings of imposter syndrome that I had when I started blogging, combined with the new insecurities of having my face out there for everyone to see.
Each time I set out to film a new video, I’m filled with nervousness. I tend to jumble my first sentence again and again, followed by shaking my head and mumbling “oy vey” to myself as I reset the camera.
When I’m done filming, I watch it back and cringe. I think about how annoying my voice is and how awkward I get on camera. I wonder whether I should just delete the video and give up on YouTube.
Even after uploading each video, I’ve been filled with doubt. I know that I’m not very good at this yet, and sometimes I wonder if I ever will be.
It’s Ok to Suck
I stuck with blogging, despite my initial fears, and eventually my insecurities faded away. Although creating videos is still a struggle at the moment, I know I’ll stick with that too.
How is it that I get past my insecurities? I have a secret weapon — a mantra: “It’s ok to suck.”
When I started blogging, I really wasn’t that great at it. I can look back at my first posts, and see that they aren’t nearly as good as what I can write now. That’s a good thing; it shows growth.
The reality is that none of us are immediately great at most new skills. Getting good at nearly anything takes time. It also takes a willingness to be bad first.
When I feel like I suck at something, I remind myself that it’s ok. Everyone starts this way. Nobody else is judging me nearly as harshly as I’m judging myself.
If we’re unwilling to ever put ourselves out there without being perfect, then we’ll never actually get anything done. At the end of the day, the best creators are the ones who are willing to take risks and try new things, despite their insecurities.
I want to get better at creating things. To do that, I need to be willing to push my comfort zone, instead of settling for what’s familiar.
Even after I accepted all of this, I still had one more reservation: Was it fair to my potential readers and viewers to put out content before I had mastered my craft? Was I wasting their time with subpar blog posts or videos?
My answer to this is that there are different types of value, and it’s possible to offer your readers something worthwhile even before you’re a great writer.
When I was new to blogging and still learning the ropes, I focused on making sure that I always had a solid idea behind each post. Even if my writing was awkward, my readers would still come away with a meaningful thought.
I’m taking the same approach to YouTube. Even though I’m still awkward on camera, and I can’t edit well yet, I still make sure that the actual ideas that I’m expressing are helpful. A viewer might finish a video thinking that I need better lighting or more confidence, but I think that they’ll be happy with the content itself. I try to make sure that they nobody will feel like I’ve wasted their time.
For new creators of any type who are feeling insecure, I think that the single best way through it is to focus on conveying solid, important ideas. If you have something important to say, readers will forgive you for saying it a little awkwardly.
The technical skills will come with time and practice, and eventually the insecurity will fade.