Singer Ellie Goulding has opened up about imposter syndrome and how it has affected her successful career. She also revealed how she copes with anxiety and praised fellow artists who speak up about mental health.
“I think part of what sparked my panic attacks was not feeling confident enough to believe in myself—I was scared I wasn’t as good of a singer as everyone thought I was,” she once wrote in a powerful essay for Well + Good.
Now, Goulding has shared more details about just how much this sense of “imposter syndrome” affected her mental health and relationship with her career.
In a post shared on her Instagram feed on Monday (14 October), Goulding made a late contribution to World Mental Health Day, which was globally marked last week.
“We all have a right to feel what we do, whatever it is, whoever we are – exhilaration, madness, absolutely nothing at all, confusion, chronic sadness… (I can sometimes feel all these things in the space of a few days),” she wrote.
“I am beyond relieved that more light is being shone on the complexity of going from being a touring artist/ performer to going straight back to normality on a regular basis. The constant change of pace is sometimes just too much to bare. Thank you to those artists who have spoken so candidly about it lately.”
She then continued to explain the imposter syndrome she has always felt, and how it made her sabotage her own success,
“I know I chose this job but nothing could have prepared me for the ups and downs that come with it,” she wrote.
“I know for sure that a lot of my anxiety has come from what they call ‘imposter syndrome’ not believing in myself enough and thinking that I don’t deserve happiness, which results in wanting to sabotage my own success.”
Goulding then revealed how she uses certain exercises to alleviate such anxieties, writing:
“I keep my head straight by training every day (running and boxing mainly) and although it is so hard sometimes to be motivated, the feeling of blood pumping through my veins and a human body performing the way it so impressively does reminds me how cool it is to be alive.”
The singer also briefly talked about her late grandfather, who died by suicide a few years ago.
“Today I’m thinking about my grandfather, who took his own life a few years back. I wish I had spoken to him more, and wish we could have had even the smallest clue of how unhappy he was,” she continued.
“I admire those who get out of bed every morning and seize the day, even when they’re not feeling too great. That requires a lot of courage. Please know that you are doing amazingly and I’m proud of you.
Goulding’s words on “sabotaging” her own success come at a particularly poignant time. Just last week, Stylist reported on a new study that has revealed the disparity between the way men and women report their performance at work.
It found that many of us struggle to find a way to respond to people praising us – and will often grimace under the pressure of how to react. Perhaps unsurprisingly, women are more likely to rate themselves lower than men when it comes to performance, regardless of how good they actually are.
It supports research carried out in 2017, which reported that 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome at least once in their lives.
Wouldn’t it be nice to just be confident enough to own our achievements and successes? Until then, it’s reassuring to know that even people at the top of their game have their doubts.