On self-doubt and growing to 1.032.827 followers
I never believed it would be possible to reach 1M in followers. In fact, I was always full of self-doubt.
Who am I to do anything? What do I have to share? What if my work is not enough?
Questions that undermined my confidence always came when I was about to post anything.
And even when I did, I was afraid to open my feed to read the comments. What if someone said it was worthless? What if someone said they didn’t like my stuff? What if it wasn’t trendy anymore? What if, what if, what if.
When I look back, I can tell that these fears have been there for most of my life. I’ve felt a fear of being an outcast from the social groups that I had. I desperately wanted to blend in and have people like me.
I believe that these fears set in during my first two years in junior high school. I was bullied and, on few occasions, beaten up and walking back home crying. Guess it was only deserved because a few years earlier, in the last years of elementary school, I played my role in bullying another boy. Karma is a bitch.
Based on the countless discussion I’ve had with strangers in seminars, workshops, and one-to-one meetings, I believe that the fear of not being enough pains most people.
While stories may change, I believe everybody develops this fear at some point in life.
One of the master skills in life is to face the fear of not being enough. And then learn to dance with it.
When I started my first experiment with Tiktok 18 months ago, I was again faced with familiar thoughts and feelings. Who am I to do anything here? What do I have to share?
The experiment was simple. Post one silly or fun video about me every day for 30 days. My aim was to create something that I usually was afraid to post and then share it with the 17 followers I had back then.
To give you an example, I’ve had a hobby of running half-naked in the snow for a long time but never shared about it with anyone. Now with the Tiktok experiment, I went all in. So here is an early video that I created on one of my morning runs.
Nothing even remotely professional. The minutes before posting this were full of self-doubt with a hint of shame in it. But the magical thing was that the minutes after tapping the” post” -button were filled with a sense of accomplishment and freedom.
Facing my personal insecurities and going through them instantly rewarded me with more confidence.
Before this experiment started, I always had to triple-think everything before posting to avoid uncomfortable feelings. What would other people think of me….?
So how did I overcome this mental block?
Just recently, I started re-reading the Harry Potter saga. I just love stories with wizards and witches in them. Magic feels so epic to me.
One distinction stood out to me this time. In stories like these, there’s usually a spell or enchantment that needs to be broken. And the quest can be dangerous and tedious. But think about this. What is the first step in undoing evil spells?
Of course, you first need to identify the evil spell; you need to know its name, and only then is it possible to go on the quest to dispel the evil enchantment.
I’m sharing this with you for a reason. The fear of not being enough is an enchantment on you. To feel free, confident, and accomplished in your life, you first must identify the spell that’s holding you back. Only that way can you learn to dance with your fears and move through them.
When I started the 30-day Tiktok experiment, I first picked up my journal and did a three-step process about my fears. This is how it went.
The Three Step Process
Step 1: Identify the fear that is holding you back
Stop for a moment and reflect. What’s the fear that is holding you back? Is there a fear of what other people might think about you? Do you fear feelings of shame? Do you fear feelings that emerge when you compare yourself to others? Do you fear feelings that surface if nobody notices you or your work?
Put that fear into words by filling the sentence” My fear of ________ is holding me back.”
Step 2: Reframe the fear that is holding you back
What if you lived five more years this way, slave to the fear you named? What would you miss out on? How would your confidence, happiness, and success be impacted?
Painful to think about that, isn’t it? For me, this exercise made the pendulum swing.
I wanted more freedom, happiness, and confidence in my life. First, I tried to ignore and suppress this fear, but you know what happens then. It was like losing on the legendary whac-a-mole game. The fear always reappeared faster and stronger.
Things truly shifted when I consciously started to reframe the meaning that I gave to my fear. So what could be the new and empowering meaning you give to the fear that you feel?
For me, all the fears of not being enough, shamed, compared to others or ignored boiled down to one idea.
Feeling these fears are like the Northstar that I used to navigate. My fear is the direction that I must take because all I want is on the other side.
Now it’s your turn again. Give your fear an empowering meaning. Complete the sentence “When I feel the fear of ________, it means that __________.”
Step 3: Summon confidence to move through your fear
Now you have given a better meaning for your fear. So how does it make you feel now to think about your fear? Most feel an instant boost of confidence after reframing the fear.
In this step, it’s time to make you ready to face your fear and move through it when you become aware of it the next time. The more confidence you have, the easier it is to make that move.
So first, let’s check in to your level of confidence. How do you feel about your confidence at the moment? Give it a score from 1 (very low) to 10 (heroic).
Next, think about a moment in your life when you were totally on top of your game — a moment when you felt very confident. Remember the situation in detail and focus on yourself. How did you stand? How did you keep your shoulders and back? What was the expression on your face? How did you breathe? What did you say to yourself? What did you focus on? Bring all of the details as close to you as possible. Really feel what you felt back then.
Then do a second check-in. How does your confidence feel now? Score it again from 1 to 10. Did you experience a small or a big shift?
If you did, awesome. It means that more confidence is already inside of you; you only need to summon it.
In this emotional state, are you now more or less likely to take action and move through your fear?
Taking these three steps is a way to condition your emotional muscles. This is the practice that will allow you to learn how to dance with your fears.
After I started facing my fear of not being enough with a Tiktok challenge, the funniest thing happened. That small 30-day experiment became a 60-day experiment, and things started growing. On new years eve, I woke up to a realization that I already had 100k followers.
It turned out that someone else found the authenticity and experimental mindset engaging too. So today, as I’m writing, the follower count is already 1.032.827 and growing.
Now, I find myself facing the familiar feelings of self-doubt when I’m about to push the publish button on this post.
I smile at my fear and push it anyway.
P.S. If you liked this text, please tap that clap! And then go and download my Confidence Unleashed -book here. It’s free until Friday!