They say you should ignore imposter syndrome…but what if it’s really your gut telling you you’re on the wrong path?

Probably half of my posts on this blog have dealt with self-doubt or “imposter syndrome” in one way or another.  But for good reason; I honestly believe it’s the one thing that stands between us and success, particularly for entrepreneurs.

Because there’s absolutely no reason we can’t have what we desire as far as online business success goes.  The resources are all there.  The same ones all the other already successful entrepreneurs used.  And as long as you’re using those resources and putting in the work, there’s no reason you can’t achieve those goals.

Unless, of course, you get inside your own head and talk yourself out of it.  And often times, the reason for talking yourself down is because you don’t feel qualified.  You keep telling yourself you have no business trying to be whatever it is you’re trying to be, and it’s simply ridiculous that you’re trying, and come on, everyone sees that and is probably laughing at you behind your back about it.

But enough about that.  I’ve beat that dead horse quite a few times now (and I will do it again, by god!).

But today, it’s not the angle I’m coming from.  Another idea has gripped me lately, regarding this “imposter syndrome”.

How exactly do you tell whether that feeling of being out of your element, being out of your lane, and trying to be something you’re not (yet)…is just bullshit low self esteem that you should push past? Or when it’s really your gut, telling you that you have, in fact, got it wrong?  That you’re heading off course, even if just slightly so.

Because no matter which one it is, they both come from inside.  But one is generated in your head.  And the other is generated in your heart.  It’s not so easy to separate the two, though.

When your heart feels something strongly, the thoughts in your head get hijacked.  And conversely, if you’ve fed yourself the same script over and over in your head, eventually you’re going to take it to heart too.

So how in the bloody hell do you know which one it is?

If you haven’t figured it out, I have, once again, entered into the territory of questioning what I’m doing and whether or not it’s really right for me.  “It” being the copywriting business.

On one hand, I know that I’m a good writer.  And believe me, it took work to get to the point of allowing myself to say that.

But on the other hand, copywriting isn’t just writing.  It’s obviously heavily influenced by marketing, being a special function within the greater marketing picture.

And I’ve studied the hell out of it for the past year.  I’ve taken classes, read books, practiced, and gone through all the material over and over.  I do know how to write persuasively and creatively.  I do know how to search for the things that an audience cares about, and appeal to those in my writing.

But there’s still one big piece I don’t have.  Credibility.  Experience.  Proof.  A glimmering portfolio.

And while I’ve learned various tactics to get around that problem for a new business, there’s one thing that those tactics don’t change: that I don’t have credibility, experience, proof, or a glimmering portfolio.

I have nothing to say to a potential client about my qualifications other than the fact that I’m a good writer, and I’ve studied copywriting technique extensively, and that they should just take my word for it and take a chance on me.  That’s all I have to go on.

No formal classes.  No degree or certification.  No MBA.  No previous job in marketing.

I was a wildlife biologist (I like reminding readers of that because it’s just so vastly different from what I’m trying to do…it sort of tickles me to say it).

But I’m not telling you this because I’m throwing yet another pity party.  I’m not telling you this because I’m hoping potential clients will read it and feel sorry for me and decide to give me a shot.

I’m telling you this because, for the first time, it’s occurred to me that it’s possible I’m misinterpreting those feelings as self-sabotage, and that in reality it could be my gut telling me it’s not the right path after all.

Or maybe simply that some element of it isn’t right.

It’s risky for me to admit this.  Not only do I stand the chance of looking foolish to people who’ve watched me from day one of this journey, but it also could scare away clients who may misinterpret it as me lacking confidence, and therefore they shouldn’t be confident in me either.

But these days I’m all about risking, taking the mask off, and just being honest.  The exhaustion of keeping up a façade is, in my opinion, a much higher price to pay than the possibility of losing clients or readers.    

So here I am, baring it all.  I’m at another crossroads.  I’ve poured a lot of time and money into setting up that business, and I’m at a point where something just isn’t sitting right.  And I’ve got a decision to make.

And that decision isn’t whether or not to continue the business.  That decision is whether these thoughts and feelings are originally coming from the head or from the heart.   The first step in choosing a direction is becoming clear on that origin.

It’s almost like being in a blinding snowstorm, and someone keeps chucking snowballs at my head, and through the blizzard I can’t see which direction they’re coming from.  If I figured it out, I could either:

1. run full-speed straight at that kid and plow him over into the snow and continue on my merry way


 2. realize it’s that socially awkward, possibly mute, hermit kid that lives on the cul-de-sac who wants to warn me away from a pond covered in thin ice that I’m walking towards, but is too odd to just come up to me and tell me, so I decide instead to walk the other way and see what kind of fun stuff is over there.

How’s THAT for an analogy?

It’s all I got this morning (coffee still hasn’t kicked in yet).

So while you guys are off catching all the Pokemon, I’m off to find the kid in the snowstorm, and decide exactly what to do with that little bastard.


Snowballingly Yours,



P.S. Does this post remind you of anyone?  Maybe they need to find their snowball-thrower too?  Please share this post link with them!

3 Comment

  1. […] about you? Do you struggle with this right now?  Hope over and read Shelley’s post (Imposter Syndrome or Gut Feeling?) and add your comments.  I bet it will be an encouragement to her […]

  2. Shelley, it’s a pleasure to find you today through the Unf* Girlfriends.

    I smiled through your post. You’re a compelling writer – even when I suspect you’re not trying to be.

    1. Shelley says: Reply

      Hi Kelly! Sorry this is such a late response (eek!), but thanks so much for sharing my article. I’m glad it resonated with you too, except that I wish it didn’t (because that would mean none of us experience imposter syndrome!). But it’s probably around for the long haul, so it’s good to have others to help build us back up.

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