I recently read a very interesting post by Oliver Burkeman in the Guardian called “Everyone is Just Totally Winging It“, which tells one of the basic truths of life. We are all just doing our best. Pretty much no-one actually feels like a fully competent adult who is confident all the time that they are getting things right. And when they do feel confident, they are probably just ignoring something, or choosing to be satisfied with their current level of skills or competence.
You may have heard of the Imposter Syndrome, where highly successful people live in constant fear of being discovered to be faking it? Our very human tendency to “fake it till you make it” leaves some people in an emotional trap, where their self-respect depends on keeping up a facade of perfection. How freeing it would be to become comfortable with the idea that we are all just winging it.
Burkeman refers to the very interesting UK organization Action for Happiness, and quotes their wise statement that
“one of the biggest causes of misery is the way we chronically “compare our insides with other people’s outsides”
Think about it for a moment. Every time you measure yourself against someone else, you are comparing the part of that person that they have carefully edited for presentation to the world against all that you know about yourself. This is definitely a recipe for misery.
The most useful thing we can do sometimes is to give ourselves a break. Do you feel like you’re winging it? Do you look at your own successes and worry that people will find out you really aren’t as good as you appear? Do you think others have it all together, and you don’t? Well, welcome to the club.
This is not to say that we can’t try to get better, and become more truly competent and confident, but just that we shouldn’t be afraid to try, or to reveal that we are growing and learning and making mistakes. Because your insides are as good as the next person’s. And the outside is, for the most part, being made up on the spot.