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Embracing the Fear

I strongly believe that many of us who are involved in the media have a heavy dose of ‘impostor syndrome’ – I certainly do. It extends into my other life as a radio lecturer at City of Glasgow College. It’s not a feeling – it’s the certain knowledge that I’m going to get found out.

That said I’ve managed to remain in-demand and people have a habit of asking me to take on work for them. The facts demonstrate that I must be at least “OK”, but the impostor syndrome is always there. It could be delivering a lesson for the 40th time, crunching and rolling on a big 80s hit or just editing up some production. But it’s there.

Up until a few years ago it was a terrible thing that I honestly believed would hold me back on a daily basis. It was impossible to commit to any project fully because the inner dialogue was always telling me I had bitten off more than I can chew and was on the verge of being “found out”. I think a lot of people in our world have that problem, constantly reading the bad review and concentrating on their last near-miss.

Now that voice is still there, but I recognise it.

The other day I started a run of phone in shows for Clyde 2 (and its siblings across Scotland). Political chat with the leaders of the Scottish parties ahead of May’s Holyrood election. Not something I had done before and something I had always wanted to do.

By heck I had the fear. Would there not be any calls? Would the line to Inverness where our main contributor was stay up? And what about COVID protocols?

Now I don’t get semi-paralysed with the fear. I work my way through it all, sometimes going as far as making lists and asking questions. Then there’s my habit of appearing not particularly prepared but actually having lots of notes and so on stashed away “just in case”.

I’m happiest at the end of a show if I haven’t needed my ‘secret prep’, but the reason I call it that is because it’s the secret to making a show work for me.

There are some extraordinary talents who really can just wing it. But for me listening to my inner panicker and using it as a force for good has been a lesson well learned.

Author: johnco

Born in 1963, been involved in radio since 1977.

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