zen habits : breathe

The Fear of Being Found a Fraud

By Leo Babauta

My friend Brian asked me yesterday what my biggest fear might be, and the first fear that came out of my mouth was: “The fear that people will discover I’m a fraud.”

The truth is, this fear isn’t something I think about a lot, but it’s often present in the background of my mind, unnoticed but working its dark magic on me. Lots of fears work this way, and until we say them aloud, they have a power over us. Once we say them out loud, really bring them out in the light of day, and give them some thought, we take away their power.

How might I be found a fraud? Lots of ways:

This comes down to one thing: my imagining of the expectations others might have of me, and my fear that I won’t meet those expectations.

And the honest truth is, I won’t meet those expectations.

So here’s what I do.

I realize that I can’t meet the fantasies of others.

I try to be honest, and not just present a fa├žade. This post is an attempt to do that, as was my failure post. If others have a fantasy of me, perhaps I can make that fantasy more like reality.

I try to be myself, which is really the best I can do. If I’m authentic, I can’t be a fraud, because I’m just being who I am. Of course, I’m always trying to figure out who that self is, and the self is constantly changing, so it’s an interesting endeavor.

I realize I’m still learning, am never “perfect”, and will always be learning. That’s all I can hope for.

I ask myself, “What would happen if the fear came true?” And the truth is, even if I were found to be a fraud by everyone I know and many I don’t, I would be OK. My life would go on. I might need to find another job, but I think I’d be OK sweeping floors or chopping vegetables (both activities I enjoy, btw).

I smile, and give thanks that I’ve been given the chance to write, to share, to connect, to help in some small way. That’s an amazing gift, and I won’t let the scared little child in me ruin it with its complaints.

So thank you, my friends. I’m happy to be here.



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