on imposter syndrome and building a system

At the time of writing this, it’s been exactly one month since I launched this newsletter.

I can safely say it’s been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.

And unexpectedly so. I’ve never been sympathetic to the influencers who claim that “their life is so hard”, or they’d “never be able to recover” from social media.

What made this change so difficult, as cliche as it may be, was the internal struggle. The constant back-and-forth between myself, the world’s harshest critic unleashing his opinions one by one.

It began when I started working for some of the world’s biggest authors. I was 18 years old, and had an extremely underwhelming amount of experience in the field. It was a shot in the dark that I had never expected to score – so much so that I had to turn in recent school assignments as “writing samples” due to my lacking portfolio.

At its core, it’s a classic case of imposter syndrome – the idea that I’m faking my reputation and my skills to get where I am, resulting in some pretty heavy doubt. I’m in an industry with people who have spent their whole life honing their craft, and yet somehow it took me a year to get to a point of creative autonomy. It doesn’t feel right.

One of the words that I hear floating around the industry is “system” – that in order to do what you want, to create an empire, to really be free, you need to build a system. You need to be able to prioritize what’s important to you, and delegate the rest to someone else.

It sounds terrifying. I’m not sure how to find a system when I’m not sure I’ve even found what I’m passionate about. I’m not sure how to create value for others when, most times, I don’t value the work myself.

Ryan Holiday says “it might mean some more work up front but the sign of a good system is that once you do that work up front, you end up having to do LESS later.” It’s just as writer Josh Kaufman says – you can try as hard as you want to focus on growing/financials/logistics, but you won't be able to gain traction without creating something you love. Without making something people will want to reread, reshare, re-listen to.

But it’s just more than creating value, however. Value doesn’t automatically make you less of an imposter. A good system should be your motivator, your teammate, and your coach all in one. A good system should keep undermining your goals, your beliefs, your predispositions, and push you even further than you thought possible.

And as I take these steps, as I move forward, I’m realizing that maybe I don’t really want what I think I do. Maybe gaming the algorithm isn’t the most important thing. Maybe taking the traditional publishing or BookTok route won’t work the way I want it to.

But I know that I’ll be doing what’s best for me. I know that I'll be building work that’ll last longer than the imposter that I’ve created. I know that I’ll be building that system.

And maybe that’s all I can do.