“Victoria Chapman, I’m gonna come up there and slap you!!!!” Well, that jolted me out of my trepidation!
You see, I had just been offered a 3-month contract for what was ultimately a dream challenge; to be the first person on a new television series… or more precisely, the concept of a new television series. Nothing was in place. No synopsis, no structure, no plan – just an idea, a notion. A few days prior the VP of the TV network division I’d worked with previously had sent out an email asking for potential staff for several show concepts. But they were all just ideas on a page. I piped up … and just 3 days later, I had a 3-month contract … I was taking the lead on one of those concepts… a new series and frankly, I had no direction. It was exciting! It was exhilarating! It was immense! And, while I won’t say it was daunting – it did trigger my “Impostor Syndrome.”
The Impostor Syndrome is the fear of being “found out,” the fear of others realizing you’re an impostor, you don’t really know what you’re doing, you’ve been faking the funk all this time and now they’ll learn that you’re really a fraud. I can’t say that we ALL have this syndrome – but many of us do, women especially. We get a new job, a new task, a new challenge or opportunity and the fear kicks in. “What was I thinking? I’m not up to this! What on earth have I signed up for? I’m in over my head! I’ll screw this up! They’ll learn I’m a fake and I’ll be kicked out and shunned forever!”
Yet then…. we persist. We step to the task. Take on the challenge and sometimes… we knock it out of the ball park…. Until the next big opportunity comes along. And then the impostor cycle begins anew.
When I expressed my fear of screwing up my new opportunity – my friend – my mild-mannered, keep-life-chill and don’t-bring-drama friend – who’s known me since I was 17-years old – called out my name – in full – and threatened to come up to New York City (a town she loathes to drive in) and physically assault me!! Hmmmmm? Perhaps I need to check myself.
I was well-equipped for the challenge. At the time, I’d been producing television for about a decade and a half. I’d developed specials, live and taped, for over 4 of those years. I knew all the elements that would be needed – it was just a matter of making a plan and fleshing it out. Just like almost everything in life… it’s all done step by step, one step at a time. It’s not rocket-science – it’s just knowing what needs to be done, devising a plan for execution, identifying and gathering resources and manpower to do it and putting it into action. It’s, as I say, “making widgets. Detailed and layered widgets – but widgets nonetheless.” And yet… FEAR. “Am I good enough? Do I know enough? What if I forget something? What if I come up short?”
How do we combat that fear? That little voice that says, “You really don’t know what you’re doing?” My friend, that day, jolted me out of that trepidation. Well, in truth, the fear persisted … but she jolted me out of defaulting to it! Challenges come. That’s how we grow. We’re not supposed to feel comfortable. We’re not supposed to have all the answers. And yes, we’re sometimes supposed to fail. But that’s where we learn… where we fall down and get back up and stumble forward until we find our footing again. And with grace, we’ll hit our stride.
I recall a television preacher/speaker who often says, “Do it afraid!” I had a pastor who once preached on the Nike theme: “Just do it!” He was warning against the paralysis of analysis. We undercut ourselves… wait and/or seek out perfection before stepping to the challenge. Psych ourselves out or underplay our talents. But…God’s got us. He always has! And still we doubt! We doubt Him. We doubt ourselves. We even doubt those who believe in us. Well, maybe we need to stop doubting the facts.
I developed this trick…take inventory! When in doubt…when afraid of a new challenge…take inventory! What talents has God given you? List them. What skills has He allowed you to learn and/or master over the years? This can be in any realm – baking, building, writing, child-care, dancing, auto repair, debt reduction…List them. What work have you accomplished favorably? List them. Then, when that voice tries to creep in and tell you you’re a fraud, you’re an impostor – take out that list! Review it! And then tell that voice to “Back off!” Sure! The challenge may be daunting. And the prospect overwhelming. But break it down into the pieces and start.
The old tropes of the gospel really do apply. So, let’s take Him at His word. If we keep our eyes on Him… We ARE more than conquerors! We CAN do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us and God has NOT given us a spirit of fear! And really – if you think about it – He most certainly did NOT bring us this far to leave us now!
Ultimately, the show I helped develop and launch ran for two seasons – with me as the only lead producer on both seasons. It was a crazy ride – but well worth it!
So, when the next challenge presents itself -- step up and do it afraid!!! Don’t give anyone a reason to have to come over there and slap you!!!
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Victoria L. Chapman is an award-winning and Emmy®-nominated Producer/Writer, who’s dipping her toe back into the pool of writing for print. She continues to press through those “impostor”-fraught moments and considers her Emmy® nod her Scarecrow’s diploma.
Keep up with Victoria on twitter @vicktory1016
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