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Joel Kim Booster opens up about 'imposter syndrome' and feeling like a 'fraud'

Joel Kim Booster
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"I wish I had half the confidence I had at 26 that I do at 36, because the impostor syndrome is real," the comedian recently told Out Magazine.

Joel Kim Booster may be making appearances at the Emmy Awards, but even he isn't safe from self doubt.

The out comedian is in a very different place now than he was ten years ago when his career first began taking off. After roles in Loot, Pride and Prejudice, and Fire Island, Booster revealed that he's a lot less sure of himself now that he's successful than he was before his fame.

“When I was coming up in my 20s, you could not tell me shit," Booster told Out Magazine as its July/August cover star. "I was like, 'I’m a genius. I’m great at this. I’m special, I have a voice, and I will be at the Emmys someday. I will be doing exactly what I’m doing right now.' It’s so funny that now that I’ve arrived at this moment in my career, I’m more like, 'I’m a hack. I’m a fraud. I don’t deserve any of this. I can’t believe I’m at the Emmys right now. What am I doing here?'"

"I wish I had half the confidence I had at 26 that I do at 36, because the impostor syndrome is real," he added.

While those feelings can be hard to overcome, Booster said the first step is to "make the focus about the work" — to keep showing up and doing what you're passionate about regardless of what others have to say.

“What I try to do is keep my head down and just write or show up to work and just keep hustling," he said, adding, "As you let your focus get away from the actual work that you’re doing, that’s when I think it becomes too overwhelming to continue. I just try to give myself a little bit of grace and remember what I love about doing all of these things.”

Another part of building up confidence is changing how you talk about yourself, as Booster explained it was part of the reason he switched from using self-deprecating humor in his comedy to over-the-top self praise.

"I spent a lot of my early career as a stand-up talking on stage about how undesirable I was, and I found that really if you say it enough times, you really internalize it and believe it," he said. "As an antidote to that, I got onstage and started talking about how hot I was. I started talking about that before I believed it about myself and before the audience believed it, too."

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.