Productivity Tips for Functional Adulthood

A todo list, aka one of those 'duh' productivity tips

I have a love-hate with the plethora of productivity tips floating around the internet. They tend to fall into the realms of “duh,” “that seems a little silly” and “that’s excessive.” Some of them work for me of course, and though I don’t have the patience to start or stamina to keep up something like a bullet journal, I do like a good, categorized to-do list and have been known to bust out a Pomodoro timer when I’m really having trouble buckling down.

Still, most of these tips seem to make the assumption that we are all at some kind of baseline. A baseline that involves “not having a sink full of dirty dishes” or “not being out of food” or “definitely having the energy to do literally anything else after one load of laundry.” I have days that are productive as hell… that literally just involve taking care of my basic life needs. But dammit, I want a cookie for that. And more importantly, I want some of those beloved productivity tips to get me to do that kind of stuff consistently.

I think I sussed out a few, though. For those of you, like me, who are in a decent mental and emotional health space but just struggle sometimes to be assed, allow me to recommend the following productivity tips just for you:

1. Get out of bed on time.

Literally everything else after this will be easier, if you start off right. Not to mention the longer you lie around, the exponentially harder it gets to get up.

2. Just wash one dish. Just one. That’s it. You can do one dish.

Also try to forget that you are doing this to trick yourself into thinking “that wasn’t so bad” then doing one more dish until the sink is empty. And if you don’t trick yourself, and you just wash one dish, congratulations, you have one more clean dish than you had before.

3. Don’t buy things that you think will make doing the things you don’t want to do easier.

That planner won’t help. Or those fancy shelves. Or that special floor cleaner, or whatever else is supposed to make the thing you already aren’t doing with the tools you already have easier. All it will do is create more junk to take care of with the energy you don’t have.

4. Get rid of things you have to do, so you just don’t have to do them anymore.

Sell, donate, or throw away stuff. Boom, fewer things to clean and store and organize. Give up hobbies that you don’t really like or consistently do. Quit commitments that aren’t that necessary, especially ones that are self-imposed because you feel like you should or it’s expected but if you think about it nobody else really cares or is relying on you. Marie Kondo was big recently for a good reason. I find her method really straightforward and applicable to physical, mental, and emotional “things.”

5. Have a routine so that the doing of stuff requires less conscious thought, therefore less energy.

Tuesday after work on the way home is grocery day. Sunday is pack lunch for the week day. 30 minutes before you leave for work is wash the dishes in the sink time. If it’s just a thing that you do without thinking, then you save all sorts of mental energy better used elsewhere.

Good luck, fellow adults. Sometimes you do deserve a trophy for getting through the day.

On Time Machines and Internet Safety

Hey friends, long time no see. I didn’t mean to let the fields go fallow here, but life happens, even if it’s nothing exciting. I’ve been thinking about this space and what I want to use it for, so stick with me for a bit.

Today though I want to talk about what some of you have followed along with on Twitter and Instagram, namely me considering my safety and relative anonymity on the internet. It’s not as if my domain, my social handles, or the other methods to find me are really sneakily removed from my real world identity, and that was by design. I don’t want to hide from every person who might know me offline, but I also want to be able to better manage the search results for my full legal name.

Like many of you around the same age, who benefitted from growing up pre-social media and being in nascent adulthood (for me, late college) when Facebook really became a thing, we don’t have our childhood mistakes littering the internet. We might have still done some dumb shit online, or otherwise not guarded our personal identity or information, but that’s firmly in the realm of “well, you’re a grown ass person” mistakes and not “you were a child whose brain is still developing and that probably shouldn’t haunt you forever” mistakes. As such, I’ve been able to carve our the spaces I want to carve for myself online pretty consciously. I’ve been able to build a life for myself offline where I am not afraid or embarrassed by anything that might be dug up that I’ve said online. If an employer ever found my Tweets in support of Black Lives Matter and decided to hold that against me, well, disaster fucking averted for me.

But knowing all that didn’t stop fear from setting in when someone who I’d known offline, who I had repeatedly blocked on multiple social channels, sent me a contact request on a new channel. There’s a lot of shit with this particular person, and the group of people and the gross negative experience surrounding them, that I’m not gonna go into because: I don’t have a time machine, I have done everything to make sure they are held accountable and do not harm others the way they harmed me, and now I have to go on with my life or risk making it all about them, which is so much more than they are worth. The short version is I have made it abundantly clear I do not want any more contact with them, and yet, here we are, the innocent ping of a contact request.

Honestly, this isn’t the first time I’ve felt personally harassed by social media. Multiple times, LinkedIn and Facebook have suggested, hey, don’t you want to add Your Harasser as a contact? I had the luxury of severing myself from the whole social circle we all belonged to, so I didn’t have to go through what I know many other people do, seeing people you thought were friends standing next to Your Harasser, smiling and happy, begging neutrality when silence in the face of harassment is taking the side of the harasser. And what a relief to avoid that stress, not to mention the stress of having harassers who are genuinely persistent, who are out to dox or shame or otherwise actively pursue me in the semi-disguised spaces I occupy online. Like honestly, I don’t think they give a shit about me as long as I am silent. In the spectrum of harassment it’s sad that that’s lucky, but it is.

So after a social lockdown for my own sense of safety, I went through much of the examination you see above. Not doubting my fear, because fear in the face of someone repeatedly ignoring boundaries and pursuing contact that you’ve rejected is pretty damn sensible. But asking if I could get over that fear, because actually they were insignificant and I was safe. Asking what compromises I wanted to make about how I spoke to and connected with other people online, in the many ways I have found amazing and supportive and incredibly expansive, in order to not fear a handful of people who I have receipts on if they really want to push it.

I came to two conclusions.

One: Donate some money to Black Lives Matter. Because in the absence of a time machine to undo harm, doing good in the present while also giving the middle finger to what your harassers believe is pretty satisfying. (If you’re also interested in donating, go to and click “Donate” in the upper right.)

Two: Un-lockdown my social.

I am not so tired of blocking that I can’t do it a few more times. And I have seen and know I’ll continue to see the benefit of being able to interact freely with people online, about issues that matter and that we care about, and honestly, about things that are stupid and that don’t matter but that are still fun and make us happy. I know it’s a luxury that I get to feel this way, that the harassment I’ve dealt with is so small and manageable it only requires some personal assessment before returning to my status quo of online behavior. Women, especially minority women, have been driven off the internet and the positive communities they might have interacted with by harassment and spewing vitriol much worse than anything I’ve dealt with. But we’re not all competing in the Harassment Olympics–I’m just saying in the great variance of bullshit that’s out there to deal with, it’s also kind of bullshit I’m grateful mine was so minor. It’s bullshit that harassment is so prevalent that we do have so much variance, and the often immediate response to incidents of harassment is to say “well it’s not as bad as…” rather than “that should never happen.”

If you’re the target of online harassment, take a look at the Crash Override Network,  which offers free and confidential support.


Travel Interlude: Kanazawa, Japan

Kanazawa Castle - Kanazawa, Japan

March 19-21 was a long weekend, so I hopped the Hokuriku Shinkansen for an overnight trip to Kanazawa, Japan.

My friend Makiko lives in the next town over, and had popped by Kanazawa once before, but it was our first time hitting the big tourist spots. That said, either Kanazawa does “tourist spots” right or the tourists choose their spots well.

Here are some recommendations that you’ll get everywhere, but that I enthusiastically back up:

Kanazawa Castle

Funny story, there’s not a castle here. But wait, stay with me. Unlike some other towns that have rebuilt their wrecked castles and stuffed a museum inside, Kanazawa has rebuild certain buildings on the castle grounds. The replicas use the same technology and techniques as their originals, so though the wood and stone you’re walking on isn’t part of a 500-year-old structure, you can get a feel for what that original actually looked like inside and out.

Kanazawa Castle - Kanazawa, Japan

Kanazawa Castle - Kanazawa, Japan

Kanazawa Castle - Kanazawa, Japan

Ninja Temple

This temple was so cool. I want to live there, but also I am 100% sure it would be haunted. The official name is “Myouryuji” and it has 0 to do with ninjas, but during ye olden feudal times there was a bit of concern (island-wide, but especially in this region) of invading armies, assassins, and all that. So the temple was built with hidden compartments, secret doors, trap doors, and even a gruesome little suicide room that opens from the outside but not the inside. You have to make a reservation to get a tour, but it’s highly worth your 1000 yen.

Ninjadera - Myouryuji - Kanazawa, Japan

More information at; appointments can be made by calling 076-241-0888.

Higashi Chaya

There are two tea house districts in Kanazawa, Higashi (west) Chaya and Nisi (east) Chaya. Both had cute little old style Japanese shops, with lots of food, crafts, and as is famous in Kanazawa (the first half of which, ‘kana’, is written with the character for gold) gold leaf everything. If you are like me watch yourself when you say “oh let’s just go inside to look…” because you will come out with about 10 things you didn’t mean to buy.

Great for street snacks, not the best for lunch/dinner, as the area is pretty tourist heavy yet doesn’t have a lot of sit down and eat a meal restaurants.

Higashi Chaya - Kanazawa, Japan

Higashi Chaya - Kanazawa, Japan

Higashi Chaya - Kanazawa, Japan


A vegan restaurant. A bit off the beaten path; even I had to take a bus, and anyone who knows me knows I am a weird mix of lazy that means I walk everywhere if the public transit is too complicated to figure out. But super delicious, Japanese-style, relaxing atmosphere. Their website is a hot mess of early 90s Geocities style web design, so just check out the HappyCow listing.

Takano - Kanazawa, Japan

Things Not to Do

It wasn’t a completely sunshine and rainbows trip, so learn from my mistakes, kids.

  1. Don’t stay at the Kanazawa Central Hotel. It was fine, probably more than fine for most travelers from abroad, but I have come to expect more from budget Japanese hotels and this one was gross. Bathroom smelled like poo before I used it, draining the tub resulted in the bathroom floor flooding, there was a half-eaten ice cream left in the mini-fridge, and I found a few mystery hairs that I’m just not going to think about too much. There are a ton of other budget/business hotels, and if you don’t book 1 week in advance of a long weekend and popular travel holiday you should be able to get a spot at one of them.
  2. Don’t buy all your souveniers at the first cute shop you see. Some products are unique and maybe you’ll have to double back, but I guarantee the really icon Kanazawa stuff is going to be at about 10 different shops (plus the stores around the train station where you catch the shinkansen).
  3. Don’t wait until you are HUNGRY to hunt for food. Kanazawa is a little more sprawling than I’m used to, and therefore there were’t 5 restaurants packed into every other building. That, and Makiko and I tried to hit up this vegan restaurant near the castle that was inexplicably closed the entire long and tourist-filled weekend. I broke my own rule, I should have packed snacks!
  4. Don’t wear a heavy camera around your neck for 9 hours. Two days in a row. Ow.

Last Thoughts on Kanazawa, Japan

Highly worth at least one trip. Has a nice little indie art scene, and if you walk from one big spot to the next you’re sure to be distracted by about a million little pieces of art, galleries, craft shops, and the like along the way. If you speak Japanese prepare to get your ear talked off about art and culture and history by some very sweet and passionate locals. (And maybe even if you don’t speak Japanese, who knows.) An overnight trip was the perfect amount of time for sightseeing. Two thumbs up, wouldn’t necessarily go again because I feel like I’ve seen the best stuff, but then, I hear Kanazawa’s big on onsens too.

Tsubaki blossoms - Kanazawa, Japan

How to Make Friends as a Grown Up

A big city.

The loneliest times of my life were 1) elementary school and 2) the first few years after graduating college. Elementary school is classic and often talked about: I was an awkward nerdy kid, children are tiny sociopaths, there were mean girls*, it was awful. Post-college, I was not prepared for. The last year of college was unusually lonely, but post-college, I assumed, I would be in a new place, making new friends, and I could start fresh. How to make friends as a grown up was surely not something I needed to learn – it would just happen!

Making Friends Will Always Be Hard

Dear readers, you probably knew this, making friends is actually really tough.

It is a million times tougher when you are not in the microcosm of school, surrounded most of your day by people your same age with your same interests, with designated socializing time. Work is sometimes but usually not a good place to make friends. I was lucky to even work with people I liked to work with, but more often than not that “like” only extended as far as our cubicle walls and mutually shared interest of “how are we going to do this thing that we are getting paid to do.”

And what the heck do you do all day around people who would otherwise be strangers except for your excuse to go talk to them? Bars I hear, but I don’t drink and let’s be real that is not a friend pickup spot but a special friend pickup spot. Networking? God, networking is exhausting and unfun, also, do I really want to form friendships on the foundation of mutual work interest again? Talking to that girl on the subway who’s reading a book I really liked? No, of course not, she’s just trying to read her book, leave her alone.

Genuinely Actionable Ideas on How to Make Friends as a Grown Up

I have friends now. I do! Grown up friends, friends who live in the same city as I do, who will go to movies or have lunch or talk about shared non-work interests with me. I’m living the dream. But damn was it a long time in the making, and overall a haphazard effort that I cannot neatly present to any of you as a path to follow. But some lessons I did pick up along the way might be actionable, so if you are struggling, consider giving these a try:

  1. Meetups. These might be through, organized on one of your favorite blogs or through a podcast or interest-based Facebook group. These have the potential to work because they are based on a thing that you and the other attendees like and can talk about together, and because everyone who goes is actively interested in talking to strangers about that shared thing.
  2. Mutual friends. Do you just know one person who you kind of like hanging out with? Steal their friend group. Well, not “steal,” but find occasions in which you can invite this one person to lunch or an event and welcome them to invite other people. If you get along with this person, you run a higher chance** of liking someone that they also like.
  3. Internships and volunteering. Similar to meetups but with a more regular commitment, find an activity, cause, part-time job doing a thing you love, etc in your area and get to know the people you work with. This has more potential for success than work-work, because people are attracted to working for free for different and therefore possibly shared reasons than working for money.
  4. The internet. I know these aren’t “real” friends, aka friends in the same physical location as you, but I would say I communicate with my geographically distant internet friends more regularly and more deeply than I do the majority of my same city friends. Where on the vast internet you find these people may vary, but again, find the internet space for your interest: video games, comics, movies, whatever, the specific thing you like has a space somewhere where other people who also like that thing talk about it. The possibilities are endless.

Good luck, fellow grown ups. If we pay our utilities, feed ourselves, and sometimes even clean and do our laundry, I have faith that we can do this, too.

* My mom ran into one of the mean girls a few years ago, working over summer break at a sandwich shop. When Mom reported the encounter to me, my overall response was “fuck that girl.” Mom was not pleased me, because it’s been over a decade, forgive and forget, blah blah, but I still say fuck that girl. I’ve apologized to people I was horrible to way back in ye olden days, so sandwich shop girl can find me if she wants. Until then she will remain the tiny sociopath of 4th-6th grade.

** Science!

One Year Later: On Dogs and Happiness

I didn’t write down the date I adopted my dog Fumu. But it turned out to be pretty easy to track backwards.

February 22, 2015, I ran the Tokyo Marathon. The adoption agent I’d been talking to at Tokyo ARK* had invited me to an adoption event that day, but I said I proooobably wouldn’t make it. So I joined one the following Sunday. And there was Fumu.


Three weeks later, I picked him up and took him home.

I’d been wanting a dog literally forever. I’d had one growing up, after also wanting a dog literally forever. (But I’m not going to talk about her just now, because there are some sad feelings there, and this post is not about those sad feelings.) I am 1000% a dog person. I am this girl.


So the idea of paying a full month’s rent as a non-refundable pet deposit, interacting with a vet in Japanese, of just plain caring for another creature when I had only a tiny apartment and no yard, did not dissuade me.

And I mean, look at this gangly, snaggle-toothed little beast.


He was 2.5 kilos when I got him, which was about half a kilo less than was ideal. I didn’t think much of the weight difference, and he put it on fairly quickly, but seeing his old picture next to his new one I really see the difference.

Not to pat myself on the back or anything, but good job, Jordan, meeting the basic needs of a small dog.

I was stressed as hell when I first got him, though. Not going to lie. I’m an anxious person and like (do not like) setting impossible standards for myself, so I was gripped with fear when I was away from him and self-consciousness when I was with him and he wasn’t behaving like a complete angel (ie, barking at old women and children, which he still enjoys but is getting better at not doing for the sake of treats, which he enjoys more).

Then, as is always the magic answer to anxieties like these, I reached a point where I was able to not give a fuck.

#pratting way after the meme was over

Was my dog happy? Was he healthy? I mean, as far as I could tell, and though I think he’s smart and has me well trained**, I doubted he was hiding some kind of secret misery from me and putting on a happy face. Dogs are ultimately honest, because even the sneaky ones are not that good at being sneaky.

And now that I don’t care if he barks sometimes (though we are working on it), and he has a schedule so he doesn’t care when I leave for work (the dominant theory is that he sleeps all day, but I haven’t gone to nanny-cam levels to find out), I think we’re both pretty good. I’m certainly happy, and science assures me that this is a thing that happens to people who have dogs. I am still stressed (because I am an adult human), and he is still sometimes a little shit (because he is a dog),  but he is my precious darling little shit, and I love him, and I’m glad he’s in my life.

So happy adoption day to my little guy.

Fumu the dog does not pose nicely for pictures.

*If you are looking for a dog (or cat!) in Osaka or Tokyo, I highly recommend ARK. They really care about their animals and are serious about finding the right fit between people and pets.

**Pawing at the empty food bowl = me filling it, but only because he isn’t an overeater and I trust him to do it when he’s hungry! Really! I have reasons!


How To Get the Wardrobe of Your Dreams

fashion pug has her ideal wardrobe

I was not a stylish kid. Pretty much the opposite. My shirts were baggy comfortable and I distinctly remember a pair of jeans that got hemmed with glue and that I wore way past them being highwater length. I’m sure there are pictures of those days somewhere; but because the word “selfie” let alone the ability to take one didn’t get big until I was way out of college, they are pretty easy to keep hidden. Wearing a nice fitting shirt wasn’t even on my radar, let alone getting some wardrobe of my dreams.

The Origins of Giving a Damn

I know that not giving a shit lasts well into adulthood for most people, and I applaud them. There’s no sense getting wrapped up in needing these kinds of clothes or looking this kind of way if it doesn’t make you happy and how you are now should suffice for the professional world. But for lots of reasons, some healthy and some not, I got wrapped up in actively crafting how I presented myself.

Do you know how hard that is to do with 0 direction? Really hard. How are things supposed to look? To fit? Where do I find them? How do I even know what I like? Questions for the ages, and ones I’m not even sure I’ve figured out now, or if I’ve just given up on answering all of them. Following fashion and trends doesn’t help, or at least, it didn’t help me. Ruffle sleeves? Turtle necks? Kick flares? I am 100% not into what’s “hot” right now, and also not into chasing the latest thing only to have to re-up next season. More than anything I want a uniform, a template for how I look and dress that I can apply when I go hunting for clothes that fit that mold.

The Answers to the Ideal Wardrobe

As much as there are any.

Dannielle Owens-Reid always has fantastic advice, and this video on crafting an ideal wardrobe is no exception:

In my experience, figuring out how I want to look and gathering the resources to look that way was probably a decade in the making. I learned how to sort of put on makeup. I learned what kinds of clothes I liked and didn’t like, and what clothes worked well together and what didn’t. I learned how things were supposed to fit, and wasted many hours in many stores trying on things that didn’t. I learned to get mad about the frequent “advice” to find clothes that fit the biggest part of you then tailor the rest, but not so mad that I ever taught myself how to hem my jeans or take in the sides of a blouse. I learned that liking how things looked as body-less pieces of clothing, or as clothing on models, could be and often was a totally different thing than liking how they looked on me.

I wish there was a faster way. There is a little bit, with the beauty of YouTube and the internet, but unless you find your doppleganger and they have already done all the experiments so you don’t have to, you won’t emerge with a neat little list of all the items for the wardrobe of your dreams. So you still have to run that gauntlet, however you are able to, balancing your time, money, and how much you really give a shit.

It’s okay not to care. And it’s okay to care. With this more than anything I agree with Dannielle: looking how you want to look makes you feel good, and feeling good is always a valuable investment.

Better Photography Through Pressing Random Buttons: An Accidental Review of the Canon G1X

About every time I see somebody’s gorgeous travel photo, I think, I should really learn how to take a proper picture. I’ve tried off and on, studying what the heck “aperture” means and then promptly forgetting, looking into what different camera lenses do and then giving up when I realized they didn’t fit my camera. I even thought about paying for a photo editing app once! (I didn’t.) But at the end of the day my method will always be better photography through pressing random buttons.

Canon G1X

My camera of choice for the past 4-5 years has been the Canon G1X, which falls on the spectrum between “point-and-shoot” and DSLR. I am ride or die for Canon going on 10 years, ever since their customer service fixed my ancient little point-and-shoot, well over warranty, totally for free. (Take note, customer service.) So when I decided to level up, but a DSLR proved both too intimidating in functions and price, the G1X, with a reassuring auto mode, limited manual controls so I could futz around without getting too overwhelmed, and a nice little flip-out screen, was ideal.

Nine times out of ten the camera takes great pictures on its own, too. Some samples from the past years:








Some of those photos were taken with auto, some not. The Canon G1X gives me just enough fiddle room to feel comfortable.

Canon G1X controls

I’ll forget a few more times what aperture priority vs shutter speed priority means for my photo results, and if I’m supposed to turn the dial + or – to get more light or less. But in the meantime this little guy is doing a great job saving me from myself, and through the magic of technology if not my own skill, I am taking better photos.

Murakami Takashi: Art as Frustration

I caught the Murakami Takashi exhibit at the Mori Art Museum before it closed. I vaguely knew of Murakami before then, but mostly through my friend Chris, who before her own move to Tokyo had recruited me to locate and send art books and other Murakami pieces. His work is impossible to avoid, as one of the most popular and famous modern artists in Japan. Still, I didn’t really “get” it until I saw his exhibit and the larger body of his work.

What is Murakami Takashi’s Deal?

A lot of his work is borrowing old and new aesthetics and transforming stock visuals into something unexpected. Certain characters and work also deal with the meaninglessness of pop icons. All this could get pretty first year art student, nihilistic and boring and convinced of its own revolutionary importance, as if no one’s ever tried these things or felt this way. But two things set Murakami apart for me:

  1. I actually like how most of his art looks.
  2. He doesn’t seem to think he’s that great.

Mr. DOB by Takashi Murakami

There was a video documentary near the end of the exhibit that toed that line of sad and refreshing to me. The timeline of Murakami’s life was a string of childhood and young adult listlessness and common fuck ups, after which he did some good shit and got some attention then kept doing good shit and kept getting attention. It wasn’t luck, but it also didn’t come from a place of assured genius and success. He was the weird kid who very few people seemed to think much of (and for the few that did, he clearly remembers and is glad for them). In the documentary, Murakami himself expressed, in so many words that I didn’t write down so I’m just going to paraphrase badly here, that he’s never really that happy making art. In fact, it’s frustrating and anxiety-inducing as hell for him. But if his art makes other people happy, then he’ll keep doing it.

Murakami Takashi - The 500 Arhats

From the outside it’s easy to say, that’s so nice, that’s great, he clearly makes people happy and he will be rich and popular forever. But the fear that goes along with pleasing people, with wanting to make something worthy, doesn’t respond to logic and also knows that logic has nothing to do with peoples’ tastes and whims.

Why Does Murakami Takashi Mean Anything to Me?

I don’t want to go too deep down the well of how frustrating and anxiety-inducing art is, too, because that’s boring and also sort of self-martyring. I do like writing, I like making things, and unlike Murakami I don’t think if it was all suffering and purely for the sake of others that I’d keep doing it. I’m just not that generous. But when he says that, and he creates pieces like he does, which clearly took sweat and tears and if not blood then sleepless nights, I get the place that the impetus to do that all comes from. Sometimes you have this idea in you that you have to let out to show to other people. And after wearing down your nails to nubs to show it to them, it’s pretty terrifying, wondering if after all that, they’ll even like it.

Murakami Takashi - Flames

On Imposter Syndrome

imposter syndrome - hands with investment book and computer

I feel exactly 0 connection with all the think pieces about how Those Millennials (of which I have unwittingly found myself a member – I used to be called Gen Y dammit) are entitled and full of themselves. Honestly, that sounds amazing. I would love to be full of myself, rather than crippled by anxiety every few weeks. I would love to feel like I not only belonged but was capable, instead of being intermittently plagued by the sense that I tricked my way into my work, my relationships, the regard other people have for me, and any second now they’re going to figure me out and it’ll all go to hell.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

That feeling of having snuck into my success, rather than earned it; that feeling that I am the evil twin, only the smarter, better me who deserves to be here doesn’t exist. Mental Floss has a nice, straightforward breakdown on Imposter Syndrome, but what I’ve found more helpful than a description of symptoms I once thought singular to me is the confession of people who are killing it that they too sort of just tripped and fell on their good fortune.

All around awesome lady Franchesca Ramsey and her husband Patrick discussed Imposter Syndrome on an episode of their podcast (which I recommend in its entirety), and plenty of other creatives and other professionals have done the same. Though I don’t imagine many of us wish that people we respect and admire felt like they had bullshitted their way to the top, it’s still a kind of relief to hear that, not just am I not alone, but people who are clearly doing great suffer imposterish feelings too. Because, after all, if those who are so objectively doing great have brains that tell them otherwise, then maybe mine, too, is going a bit haywire when it tells me I’m completely incompetent and going to get kicked out of the Grownup Self-Sufficient Adult Club any day now.

Where To Go with That Fleeting Relief

Knowing that Franchesca Ramsey, Maya Angelou, and Emma Watson suspect themselves of success-via-bullshit is a nice little shot of relief. But then I’m not appearing on MTV and the Nightly Show; haven’t written 11 books; and am not an actress/fashionista/UN ambassador for women’s rights/plus a million more slashes of which just one would be an achievement of a lifetime. So, a bit hard to buck myself up long-term looking at these awesome ladies.

Jazmine Hughes had a solution that deserves its viral fame for genius of execution: fake it ’til you make it. If you can’t imagine yourself as someone smart and successful, embody someone who is. The whole of “Cookie” wasn’t who Jazmine wanted to be,  but playing the woman who owns the room and takes what’s hers was enough to remind her that that kind of badassery was in her, too.

“Work harder” is my own go-to, with pros and cons. It’s always good to try more, to be better, and objective achievement can help dispel subjective notions that I’m not good enough. But how much of life is actually objective? Not a lot. Hell, our entire society is based on trading pieces of paper and little bits of metal that we all agree have value. If even money is a bit iffy in the very foundation of what it’s worth, how am I supposed to say, yes, I am objectively good enough? And then one falls into a spiral of always trying harder, and never feeling good enough, and blaming personal failing alone for not feeling good enough.

So finally, I try to give myself a break. I will fail sometimes. Everyone fails sometimes. A single failure, a single instance of my inability to do something because I don’t know enough, I’m not skilled enough, it didn’t work out, etc, does not reflect on the entirety of my person for all time. It’s all less dire than that. And it’ll be okay.

People really struggling with Imposter Syndrome and other anxiety issues can find relief in therapy and psychiatry, including cognitive behavioral techniques and anti-anxiety or antidepressants. I’m not a doctor, and even if I was I’m not your doctor, so if you’re concerned I always recommend talking to one and getting good, professional advice.