Do you ever feel like you’re a big faker? I’ve been there. I’ve felt this thing often referred to as imposter syndrome.
The truth is, I’ve had imposter syndrome nearly my whole life. I got picked on as a kid. I was a nerd. I never fit in. When I tried to fit in, it just felt worse. And not surprisingly, these feelings of not fitting in carried over into my career.
The good news? Imposter syndrome has helped to make me better, stronger and more successful! If you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, here are 10 (hopefully helpful!) tips I’ve learned along the way:
Use imposter syndrome to fuel your fire.
When I first started my career, I called myself a “fly by the seat of my pants web designer.” I was too afraid to say “web designer.” I think I had to leave some room for not being good enough. But ultimately, this lingering suspicion that I wasn’t quite good enough made me continue to grow and learn. I taught myself HTML and CSS. I took classes, and I eventually realized, I’m not an imposter—I actually know what I’m doing!
Know you’re not alone.
Many creatives have it. I was reminded of this at a recent retreat, hosted by marketing mentor Ilise Benun and surrounded by incredibly talented creative businesspeople. We were discussing this topic, and everyone had it—or has it—to some extent. Even the best of the best have imposter syndrome. My 10-year-old recently did a project on Kobe Bryant and we found a quote. Kobe said:
“I have self-doubt. I have insecurity. I have fear of failure…We all have self-doubt. You don’t deny it, but you also don’t capitulate to it. You embrace it.”—Kobe Bryant
Yup, even Kobe Bryant had self-doubt! But he would step onto the court, put self-doubt aside, and get to work. And you can too!
Fight imposter syndrome by choosing a market.
You can’t be everything to everyone. The more thinly you spread yourself, the harder it will be to become an expert. By working in the same niche, you will begin to feel more confident because you’ll be gaining expertise with every project. Specializing and picking a niche is a great way to combat imposter syndrome!
Feel your feelings, but don’t dwell.
Don’t beat yourself up. Feel the feelings, then let them go. Know they will lessen. Take an action. Move forward. If we always listen to the bad stuff, we’d never get anywhere.
Don’t be like them. Be you.
It’s exhausting to try to be like other people. The more closely you monitor and examine them—and try to mirror them—the further you get from being your actual self. Whether you realize this right now or not, yourself is always better. Because that’s who your magic comes from. You. Be. You.
Know that people need you.
Even if you’re not the best (and who actually is?!) you’re better at your skillset than the people who need you. Remember, if we know more than our clients, it makes our expertise useful to them.
Look at your testimonials.
Think back to a project you’re proud of, or look at a testimonial from a happy client. Remind yourself that you are providing good experiences for your clients. They appreciate your talent; you can appreciate it, too!
Look inside at what you need.
Only you can overcome imposter syndrome, so look inside yourself. For example, I’m a nerd. And that’s awesome. Because I love learning! I used this to my advantage in overcoming imposter syndrome. My undergrad degree is in marketing. When I realized I wanted to do graphic design, I started studying on my own but realized that education makes me feel empowered. So I went back to school to get a Master of Arts in Graphic Design. That worked for me; I wanted the formal schooling. What do you need to feel more confident?
Get help and be realistic.
Nobody knows how to do everything. You shouldn’t want to do everything! That would take you away from what you do best! Remember that it’s okay to get help from people whose skills are more developed than yours. There are some complex skills that I don’t have the time or energy to learn—so I hire experts.
Look at the alternative to imposter syndrome.
Wouldn’t it be weird if you never felt like an imposter or experienced any self-doubt? If you just thought, I know everything always! I think the fact that you have felt it at one time or another makes you human and means you truly care about doing good work.
These days, imposter syndrome isn’t a huge factor for me anymore, especially since I started to grow in my competency.
Sure, it still creeps in sometimes—but I have the tools to move on quickly.
I hope these tools help you as well!