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That “I Don’t Know What I’m Doing” Feeling

Careergasm I don't know what I'm doingThe weird thing about being a coach is that while you’re helping other people confront their issues and move forward you’re also dealing with your own shit. Or sometimes *ahem* not dealing with it.

So I want to share a little revelation I’ve had about one of my own blind spots. A bit of backstory…

I wrote a book. Not only did I write a book, but I got myself a big, badass New York literary agent, and sold the book to an amazing publisher. Like, it’s kind of a big deal.

I’ve mentioned the book briefly on social media (more details soon…it comes out in March), but I haven’t offered a hint or a whisper of it right in my own backyard at Careergasm — to my regular readers and to the tribe of people I serve. What’s up with that?

If I was a super private person that would be one thing, but I’m not. Most of the time I’m happy to share the stuff going on in my life. And something as big and exciting as scoring a book deal is definitely worth sharing and celebrating. Normally I’d be all over that shit.

So here’s what’s going on: I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing. Until now, I’ve never written a book. And I’ve certainly never sold one or promoted one. I feel like I jumped into the deep end without my water wings.

But that’s not the problem.

The problem is that I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing while holding onto the belief that I should know what I’m doing. And that has me feeling like a total fucking imposter — like I snuck into a swanky members only club and it’s just a matter of time until someone discovers I don’t belong and kicks me out.

The reasonable part of me knows this is ridiculous. And yet…

My inner control freak is throwing a code red toddler-level tantrum. She wants to feel like she has her shit together. She wants to have everything all mapped out so she can be on top of her game and SLAY.

Maybe you know a little something about this feeling too?

I think that’s why I haven’t been talking about the book. I’ve been waiting for that I’ve totally got this feeling to kick in. But you know what? Not gonna happen. Hasn’t yet, anyway. And I’ve just realized that’s totally okay.

I know about as much as any first-time author has ever known about publishing and promoting a book, which is not very much. This is new. I’m not supposed to know what I’m doing. Go figure.

I’d love to say this realization came swiftly and clearly. Nope. I’ve been struggling with feeling like I don’t have my act together for a few months now. My lightning bolt of clarity came yesterday, when I coached a client through the EXACT. SAME. ISSUE. She’s a new grad about to start a career and she has massive anxiety. She’s beating herself up for feeling lost, telling herself that she should know what she’s doing. In a totally new arena. Doing something she’s never done before. Sound familiar?

Coaching her through that felt like looking into a freaking mirror. After our session I thought, Welp. That right there was a sign. You have work to do. Don’t you love/hate how the universe keeps sending you “helpful hints” to deal with one of your issues. Yeah.

So I’m warming up to the truth that I’m not really supposed to know what I’m doing right now. I don’t know what I’m doing and everything is going just fine. Great, actually. There’s a whole team of bright, shiny humans I trust who do know what they’re doing — my editor and publicist and designers and everyone else at my publisher. Things are shaping up fucking BEAUTIFULLY. The situation is A+; it’s my (untrue) assumption that I’m supposed to know what I’m doing that has been getting in my way and causing anxiety.

Maybe you’re like me and feeling a bit lost at sea, while berating yourself for not having it all mapped out, whether you’re a new grad feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, or a new parent, or a new entrepreneur, or someone who is starting a new job or maybe even a totally new career. If so, say it with me: You’re not supposed to know what you’re doing. tweet

At some point you have to pat your inner control freak on the head and proceed anyway. Trust me, it’s better than retching with anxiety at the helm of what should be an exciting new adventure.