I have a serious case of tattoo imposter syndrome

Have you ever heard of imposter syndrome?

It’s a common phenomenon where people who are accomplished or successful constantly feel that they’re not measuring up. They may appear fine on the outside, but on the inside, they don’t feel they are as good, smart or talented as the people around them.

Most professional women have imposter syndrome to one degree or another. That’s because women are socialized in our society to constantly improve themselves, compare themselves against others and continually strive to do more, work harder and look better.

The thing about imposter syndrome is that it’s a losing game. Once that negative mindset takes over, no matter how hard you work or how great your accomplishments are, you’ll always see yourself as falling short.

The only way out is to see it for what it is and opt-out through mindfulness and reprogramming your brain.

I used to struggle with imposter syndrome at work, as most women do, but somewhere along the line I convinced myself to knock it off.

Then, I realized recently that I suffer from imposter syndrome in another area of my life: my tattoos! And it’s just as ludicrous in this context.

You see, no matter how heavily tattooed I become, or how many gorgeous and incredible works of art I collect on my skin, I can never seem to lose the nagging suspicion that I am somehow not tattooed enough or worthy of fitting in with other tattooed people.

Even though I am usually the most tattooed person in my friend circle, I still get tattoo insecurity or tattoo imposter syndrome anytime I’m around heavily tattooed folk.

Even as I’m typing this I know it sounds crazy and ridiculous, but I also have read enough about imposter syndrome and experienced it enough in my career to know what’s going on in my head.

It all became very obvious to me recently when I was invited to be a guest on the Tattoo Collecting 101 podcast. Tattoo Collecting is a very cool podcast hosted by tattoo artists Fawn Baker and Jordan Rookus from the amazing Redtree Tattoo.

I have followed the podcast for a while, especially because Fawn has long been on my wish-list of talented artists I’d like to be tattooed by. Both Fawn and Jordan make incredible art and are well worth following on Instagram.

When Fawn reached out to invite me on the show, my first instinct was “Heck yes!” but that was followed quickly by thoughts of self-doubt, insecurity and “oh no, they’re going to figure out that I’m NOT tattooed enough to be worthy of being on the podcast with them.”

Thankfully, I realized I was having those old, familiar imposter syndrome-type thoughts and shut it down fast.

Thinking like that does NOT serve us. In this case, it’s also a disservice to the incredible artists whose work I wear. Those artists are more than worthy of being on a tattoo collector podcast – and so am I.

After all, I put in the investment of time, money and pain to get all these tattoos. I collaborated with the artists on the designs. I have spent countless hours dedicated to the passion, hobby and obsession that is collecting serious fine art tattoos. No one could deny that I’m a serious tattoo collector!

So, after some positive self-talk, I went ahead with it. It’s so important to face our fears head-on; every time we do, we get a little stronger.

The morning of the podcast, I was excited and a little nervous. Fawn and I met for breakfast first, and that helped put me at ease. Once in the studio, I soon felt right at home with Fawn and Jordan (and Jordan’s awesome dog and cat, who are the unofficial stars of the video version of the podcast).

Even with multiple cameras, microphones and other various high-tech recording devices, gadgetry and technology surrounding me, I felt comfortable once we all started talking. It was like hanging out with two new, cool tattooed friends – something I haven’t gotten to do in a long time thanks to COVID.

Being on the Tattoo Collecting podcast reminded me of the joy of going to tattoo conventions and immersing myself in thinking and talking about tattoos for days at a time. It’s been too long and I miss it so much – I can’t wait for Hell City to come back to Columbus in 2022.

If you’d like to listen to the Tattoo Collecting podcast episode that I was on (episode 21), you can find a couple of versions of it online. Here’s one with the camera mostly on Jordan and Fawn, and here’s another view where the camera alternates between Jordan/Fawn and me.

I really enjoyed talking about tattoos, girl power and my “Tattoo Doula” alter-ego with Fawn and Jordan. I’m also extremely excited to meet with Fawn in a few weeks to begin collaborating on my right arm sleeve! Hopefully I can join them on Tattoo Collecting podcast again once Fawn and I have started working on my sleeve.

Do you have imposter syndrome in any areas of your life, whether it’s work, as a parent or some other part? As always, I’d love to hear your stories in the comments below or over on Facebook.

About the author

Proud and loving mama. Lucky and devoted wife. Dog, cat and snake mom. Travel nut. Writer since birth. PR and social media pro by day - tattoo doula by night.

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