Finding authenticity and feeling like a fraud

This past week has been a bit of a toughie for me and for no real reason, or at least nothing “drastic” has happened to me or my loved ones to make me feel this way. I’ve just had this low, black cloud of icky-ness hanging over me and it’s been making me question a few things about myself, my business and want I want out of life.

I follow a lot of aspirational and inspirational women bloggers, coaches and business execs who often speak about this thing called “authenticity” and while listening in to their podcasts or reading their blogs or Instagram accounts I’ve often nodded my head thinking “ah yes, authenticity… totally get what that means”… when in fact, I don’t think I have a grasp on what it truly means at all.

finding authenticity

What is authenticity?

Without googling “define: authenticity” I’ve decided to come up with my own definition and to me it means just being ME. Being unapologetically “Ellie”, no strings attached, no happy facade, just accepting who I am in the good, bad and ugly moments. Authenticity kind of scares me though, because when you think about it, being “me” should just be something we do everyday. How hard is it to just be ME? It’s hard people, oh it can be damn hard.

I think business people particularly entrepreneurs and solopreneurs can often struggle with the feeling of showing the real them. We are forever hanging on a limb trying our damnedest to build businesses we love and one that others will love too. We struggle with how people might see us and whether our message, blog posts, art work, creativity will be received well. As a creative solopreneur who spends a fair amount of time at my home office desk, alone, I can absolutely relate to this feeling of trying to please everyone.

This week I felt this jolt within me and it felt yuck. It made me question why I create and whether what I create is actually any good or not. I know artists can be their worst critics but when you find yourself creating things and the passion starts to dwindle a little it can be kind of scary to question whether it’s worth continuing.

To turn a bit of a depressing story (sorry readers) into a positive one, this idea of being authentic within myself and my business made me really think back to why I started The Darling Design Co in the first place. Why does anyone start a business or choose to pursue their passions? I realised this week that I am more of an artist than I cared to believe previously. I have so many emotions and feelings pent up inside that when I am sitting and making or drawing or creating this is when I am most happy and authentic. This is when I am most myself.

Our passions and love for certain things will always come in ebbs and flows and naturally our tastes change. When I was a pre-teen I loved Barbies and Play School, when I was a tween I loved the Spice Girls… (who am I kidding, I still do, #girlpower forever), but my passion for creating and making will never go, and this is part of being authentic. It’s about accepting the things we love and being okay with sharing them with the world.

Feeling like a fraud

I don’t really like the term “fraud”, at least not when it comes to describing feelings within business. I don’t think I’ve been a fraud when it comes to sharing myself with the world through TDDC, but I do think I’ve been influenced by others’ opinions on what is the right way to share myself with the world.

I’ve cared far too much about the “rules” of business instead of caring about building an image of what I think looks great, and believing the authentic likers and followers will then come too.

How many of us have been caught up reading those blog posts about how many times we should post on Instagram or Facebook a day, or how we should stick with the one colour theme on our Instagram feeds, or how we should never post anything personal on our business pages? Oh my gosh, I feel like I’ve read them ALL! And you know what, some of them might be right but some of them just make me feel so bloody terrible at my job that I end up curling up into a ball thinking “maybe I should just quit right now because my business is clearly not up to scratch?!”

Who really cares what the rules are? If it doesn’t feel good for you and you’re starting to lose your passion because of it isn’t it more important to focus on feeling good within your craft than posing to be something that you’re not? I’ve noticed I’ve even gone a little off Instagram because I feel it’s lost its authenticity and most accounts are so perfectly perfect I’ve kind of lost the connection with them because they seem so staged.

I definitely think there are some rules to follow and some blog posts are correct in sharing the ways of increasing audience reach by using professional marketing tricks but I don’t think this should overshadow the true flavour of YOU and your authenticity.

Where to from here?

Don’t worry, this is not one long drabby post to say I’m quitting my job. I care too much about this little baby I’ve built to call it quits now. But what I am going to tell you is that things may change a little around here. I’m going to make like Pantene and tell you it wont happen over night but it will happen. 😉

It’s my mission to start focusing on honing in on what makes me happy as an artist and designer. I’m following the ebbs and flows of my passions and my life and I want to continue to share this with you all, if you’re interested in hanging in there with me.

I want it to be okay to share the behind the scenes snaps of my life because behind the logo and the name The Darling Design Co is a woman called Ellie and I’m a real person! I want to connect with other real people and I don’t want to be another one of those “pod businesses” you’ve seen before. Let’s get real. I’m more than just a graphic designer. I can offer so much more than just pretty logos and pictures and I’m going to start sharing a lot more of myself with you.

It’s totally okay if you’re not keen on this and you’d rather hang out with the shiny, well planned, monochromatic businesses where they rarely talk about real life. I dig that too. But if you are keen to learn a few things from someone who is also struggling to get out of bed some days to avoid the responsibilities of adult life, then I’m your girl.

I’m still going to share with you my branding, biz and life tips because my mission is to help others build bad ass businesses through learning from someone on the same path. My focus is on being real and let’s be honest, the real people struggle sometimes and question themselves sometimes, and sometimes we just throw the towel in for a day or two before we realised we are kick ass biz bosses and we should share our magic with the world.

I’m encouraging my friends, biz bosses and followers to get real by taking a real picture of themselves in their business or life and use the #letsgetreal

Let’s bring some “realism” (is that a word?!) back to our social media pages and spread the message that authenticity is about being YOU and being okay with sharing what you are all about!

Let me know what you think or if you have any thoughts about what authenticity means! x

Ellie is a freelance graphic designer, business and lifestyle blogger, health and wellness enthusiast and the founder of The Darling Design Co.


  1. Megan
    31/05/2016 / 1:33 PM

    Wow Ellie, this post could to be better timed!

    Over the last few weeks I have been reflecting hard on the decision to keep it real or filter the appearance of TH. Instagram can overwhelm us at times with these ‘perfect’ businesses, BR’s with these seamless Instagram profiles and make us question our own presentation.

    Thank you for reminding me I would rather be imperfect and real. Authentic!

    • 31/05/2016 / 6:04 PM

      Oh Megan thank you so much for your lovely comment and I am so glad this post came to you at the right time! I saw your gorgeous stall at the markets on the weekend and I often see your goodies pop up in my instagram feed and I think what you are doing is amazing! Your business is perfect the way it is! Believe in yourself and your authenticity lovely because that’s what makes your biz so great! X

  2. Eden
    31/05/2016 / 11:16 PM

    Thoroughly enjoyed reading your article. Behind you 100% , good on you ellie! Xx

    • 02/06/2016 / 12:18 PM

      Thank you for your beautiful comment Eden! xx

  3. 29/10/2017 / 8:42 PM

    Hi Ellie, just stumbled across your blog and website and really enjoyed this post. To be honest, I don’t struggle with authenticity, I struggle with trying to fit into the norms of what I’m supposed to be doing according to society. For instance, I don’t use Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Pinterest to market myself. I find it’s a lot of work to maintain that, and I’d rather live real life offline, outside. I already spend so much time in front of my laptop that I really resent having to spend even more time using social media. I know I need to advertise and promote my business, but if I can do it face-to-face, that’s my preference. I’m not in a hurry, nor do I want to work with the entire world, just clients that I like, that have the same values, and appreciate what I do – even if that’s only 50 people!

    • 30/10/2017 / 8:40 AM

      Thanks for commenting Rachel. It sounds like you have really worked out what you love to do, and that is awesome! It’s different for everyone, and if working with a smaller number of people serves you in a way that makes you happy in your business then that’s a great thing! Keep doing what you love! So glad you enjoyed the blog xx

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