Pavneet Sembhi

In a world of lines and squiggles


I'm a Fraud!

MotivationPavneet SembhiComment
 Me taking over the world

As well as share my artwork and projects, occasionally I would like to share with you any thoughts that relate to being a creative person/human being in the hope that it will resonate with some of you, maybe even reassure or help you.  This might be a bit of a rambling one! 

Yesterday I went to a stationary shop to find some plain paged notebooks for jotting down ideas and plans. As I was paying for the notebooks the lovely guy at the till said "Are you planning to take over the world?", I laughed and said "Isn't that what we are all trying to do?". So this left me thinking 2 things:

  1. He probably has no idea how much of an impact that made on me, or maybe he does and he is one of the few who uses his superpowers in the way we all should. Spread a bit of joy wherever you can, with the people you know but even more so with the people you don't. Everyone has their own inner battles and you might just make their day. Also this is customer service at its best.
  2. Yes I do want to take over the world but I am always doubting myself too much to do that!

In recent conversations the same thing seems to be coming up among the creatives I speak to (although it could be everyone else too). You know when someone says something and suddenly you just think "Thank god it's not just me", well that is what happens every time this topic comes up: Self Doubt. Do you experience a constant struggle between feeling like you can take over the world and then completely talking yourself out of it? And yet you keep going and eventually (hopefully) you do get there.



I'll be honest, a lot of the time I feel like I have no idea if I am doing the right thing or doing things the right way. I know that there is no right way and yet I still think about this all the time. As someone who did not study anything remotely creative (I studied Law) I have this constant feeling of not deserving success, like there are people who went through years of education who deserve it more. I also feel like I don't have the authority to give advice or be considered an illustrator for the same reason. 

Of course objectively I know this is a load of rubbish, plenty of people change direction, work hard and become established in a new industry. And so that brings me to a nice little thing I learnt recently about what to do when this happens. Just think to yourself "what would I say to my best friend?" - we can effortlessly give good advice to our friends but we hold ourselves to ridiculous standards. 

Okay and then there is this concept that I have no doubt many of you will recognise. One of my friends recently brought up the "Impostor Syndrome" to which we universally laughed and shouted "THAT'S ME!". So what is Impostor Syndrome you ask? Well it is basically when you constantly fear being exposed as a fraud and no matter what you achieve you still think you aren't actually good at anything. Please put your hand up if this is you. Both my hands are up because this is me every. single. day. 

  Kristin Chirico/BuzzFeed

Kristin Chirico/BuzzFeed


I did a little research into this syndrome and discovered that although it tends to be women affected by this, there are also men who suffer from the same problem. There is a dread of being discovered as a phony, a sham, a fake, a fraud, like you simply do not deserve to have the authority or to be called an expert in the field. If you recognise these symptoms you can start working on reducing that voice in your head and acknowledging that your successes, whilst partly due to luck, are also down to you. 

There are people like Tina Fey and Maya Angelou and Tom Hanks (see below the article by Kyle Eschenroeder), the kind of people that are factually NOT frauds, who have confessed to having Impostor Syndrome. And from that comes the solution - be honest and open about how you feel. Often the feeling of inadequacy comes from thinking everyone else has their life together all the time, that we are the only ones feeling this way. 

  Kristin Chirico/BuzzFeed

Kristin Chirico/BuzzFeed

I won't go into too much detail about what you can do about it because quite frankly other people have covered it much better than I ever will (is this my Imposer Syndrome talking!?) but if this seems familiar to you then you absolutely MUST read these articles:

Good luck on your plan to take over the world and be happy!