When you picture an expert, what do you see? Do you see Einstein? Do you see a Ph.D. who has been studying the same subject for 20 years? Do you see a scientist in a lab coat? Do you seen an author promoting her fifth book? Do you see the entrepreneur who just sold her company for millions of dollars?
Here’s what Merriam Webster says an expert is:
Expert: having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced.
It doesn’t mention a Ph.D. requirement. It doesn’t mention that you must refrain from using that word until you are a published author.
By that definition, we are all experts on something.
We all meet people who call themselves experts but who clearly aren’t, so we shy away from using that word, fearing that someone will call us out as an impostor as well. But if you speak from experience, if you share what you have learned with authenticity, if you are clear about what you know and what you don’t, then the word impostor won’t apply to you.
We also hesitate because we know that there are other people out there who have more expertise then we do. And that’s fine. There is always someone who is more expert than you – but that’s why most of the time you’ll call yourself an expert, and not the expert. But you’re still an expert.