Sarah Treanor

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How I Deal with Imposter Syndrome

 

Even if you haven’t heard of the term imposter syndrome before chances are you have experienced it at one point or another. Imposter syndrome hits when you doubt your abilities. It’s the idea of feeling like a fraud and that you don’t really deserve your job or your accomplishments. You may begin to think your achievements are more down to luck rather than your hard work and skills. It’s essentially a major lack of self-confidence and self-belief.

Imposter Syndrome is something anyone in a wide variety of industries can be faced with. In creative industries it can be especially hard to avoid as our work is constantly being analyzed, judged and compared. I’m currently deep into job hunting and a few “you’re not the right fit” emails have just landed. I’m trying to stay positive and reflect that in those instances maybe it was not the right position for me and it’s not because my portfolio sucks! But we all have our bad days, on my bad days I feel less confidant and question are my 7 years of design work I worked so hard on actually any good?!

Credit: errantscience.com

Credit: errantscience.com

Now I’m not the first person to write a blog about imposter syndrome and I won’t be the last but after facing with it myself in recent times I wanted to share how I deal with it and pick my confidence back up…


RECOGNISE THE FEELING AND FACE IT

Note what you are feeling, only then can you address it. Try to diagnose why you are particularly feeling this way at this time.

  • Are you like me, currently job hunting and got that “not the right fit” email? Take note that maybe it wasn’t the right fit for me, should I be looking at more specific roles or maybe I should try presenting myself differently.

  • Maybe you’re in a new role and feeling out of dept. Recognize that in this circumstance it’s natural to feel this way, it’s not a reflection on your capabilities but more an opportunity to learn, grow and become great in that role.

  • Did you get client feedback that seemed far more negative than positive? Feedback is essential in design, don’t see it solely as criticism, it’s not meant to be a direct hit at your profession. Use feedback for what it is and focus on the job at hand and less on your ego. Once you stay focused and deliver from the feedback the likelihood is that your client will be happy with the final result and will be singing your praises in the end.

TAKE THE COMPLIMENT

You might think being humble is being polite since the complete opposite is to be arrogant but it’s really not! When someone compliments your work and you react with a blasé “oh it’s alright” or say thanks but tell yourself they don’t really mean it… if you keep shutting down genuine compliments in your head you will never believe good feedback. You should not only believe compliments you’re given but remember them and keep reminding yourself of them. When a prospect employer compliments my portfolio or a client gives my a glowing testimonial I remind myself that they didn’t have to say that, they genuinely meant it - CELEBRATE IT!
 

STOP COMPARING

Of course you’ll look at other designers work, you should be, that’s how we creatives keep on top of new trends and open ourselves to inspirations. But be careful about looking at other work with envy in your eyes… “I wish my work was like that”, “they have achieved so much more than I have”, “they have thousands of social media followers”. Did you ever thing these people doubt their work too? Or it’s possible other people are looking at your work and thinking similar things. Besides you could be comparing to a designers work that has many more years of experience than you and you’re just on your journey to their level. Be inspired, work to grow and some day reach the level of designers you admire but don’t compare and bring yourself down.


In conclusion, Imposter Syndrome is a toxic way of thinking. It’s only ever going to slow you down and keep you from your goals. It’s near impossible to avoid but with some internal pep talking and positive thinking you can fight back. There’s no magic solution to get ride of it altogether but I hope what I have outlined in this post will steer you to better practices to tackle Imposter Syndrome.