I know you feel me on this. Unless you're literally a robot, you've felt the draining effects of Imposter Syndrome. It's like a sneaky, rude voice in your head that tells you're really kind of lame and mediocre, not that good at stuff.
No one would ever call me insecure - people know me as a confidant person. And I am, pretty much. I mean, I'm a human being so I have insecurities like everyone else - but for the most part, I feel good about myself, my place in life, and my skills and abilities.
However, I've been going through some big shifts lately. And I've been having my moments of wondering if I'm talented enough, brave enough, smart enough, and just good enough to make it.
Imposter syndrome sucks, but it's not the end of the road. Here's how I deal with those crummy, self defeating thoughts!
Imposter Syndrome is the feeling that you're not actually good at what you do, and that you're a big fraud, and that someday everyone is going to realize you actually suck. It's pretty annoying.
I feel like Imposter Syndrome always strikes when you're low. You're tired, stressed out, in a new situation.
I've been going through a lot of big shifts these past few months. I decided to start this blog. I realized that I want to leave the Bay Area and move to Reno. The startup I was working with offered me a co-founder position and is growing rapidly. In fact, it's growing so rapidly that I'm quitting my day job to focus on it more. That's scary! Because I'm quitting my day job, I need to make my freelance design business a priority. That means figuring out services, onboarding clients, running a business.
It's a lot! And since I've been dealing with so many new, scary things happening, I've felt a lot of that darn Imposter Syndrom lurking around.
I can feel those thoughts creeping in during the day - thoughts like "You're not experienced enough to co-found a startup." and "You aren't good enough to make a living with your design skills." And so on and so on.
You know the drill. There's a thousand nagging little thoughts that tell you that you aren't good enough. It makes you want to stop trying, never take risks, stay safe in your comfort zone.
But - that's not how you get shit done. That's not how you make changes, grow, learn, or become a successful business owner.
I've definitely been through some tough experiences. I've done a lot of things and come a long way in my life. And every step of the way, I felt afraid and uncertain. And guess what - I'm still here! I've been able to handle every tough situation so far. Even the ones I thought I would never be able to get over. It's super annoying that I know this, and I know how smart, talented, and resourceful I am, but I still get those nagging thoughts that I'm not gonna be able to do it, this time.
Luckily, I've figured out some ways to deal with the Imposter Syndrome issue. It still happens, but I don't let it stop me from living life. (Okay, I'll admit - every once in a while I spend a Saturday in bed moping.) But not very often!
Here's some of the techniques I use for dealing with Imposter Syndrome -
1. Stop the negative thought cycle.
Every time I get in a negative feedback loop, where I'm questioning everything about my skills and my abilities, I remember some really great, positive feedback from a client. If this is hard for you, grab a little journal and start writing positive feedback down. You have to change that though cycle!
2. Get immersed in the process
When I'm doubting my design skills or knowledge, I start a little project and really get into it. There's always something new to learn. Even the best designers in the world are always striving to gain knowledge. And that's awesome, because learning new skills is fun. Instead of getting stressed about what I don't know, I seek out a new skill to add to my roster.
3. Get feedback from trusted friends
My husband and close friends are always there to give me a boost. You have to reach out to your network - that's what they are there for! Even if you're talking crap about yourself, your friends and family will have your back. You might be focused on all the ways you are lacking, but they see all the ways you are amazing. Ask them to give you a pep talk!
4. Get outside and look at some nature
When I'm sitting in front of a computer, bleary eyed from staring at a screen for hours, feeling like I suck at font pairings and I'll never be a real graphic designer, I tell myself to take a walk. It's hard sometimes.... because I just want to bang my head against the problem over and over. This accomplishes nothing at all. Taking a walk and looking at the beauty of nature, the plants, trees and sky, clears my mind. After about 10 minutes of walking, my mind starts to clear and I stop focusing on the problem. After a 20 or 30 minute walk, I am always in a much better head space.
5. Read some stories from people you admire that suffer from Imposter Syndrome.
This one helps me SO much. It's easy to look at the people that inspire us and think that they sprang forth from the womb an amazing, successful and inspired person. Chances are they didn't. They struggled and suffered, and probably still doubt themselves. And most of them write about it, or podcast about it... and it's sooooo encouraging to hear. Hearing people's stories of triumph makes me feel like I can do it too!
Yes. Do it. I know it's hard. My husband is a meditation teacher so I have an in house coach. I'm sorry, I know that doesn't help you. But, I really, really encourage you to try some daily meditation. When I meditate regularly, I find myself with a lot more mental clarity and way less feelings of Imposter Syndrome. I feel more grounded and capable. I still have fears and self doubts, but I can rationalize and move through them more easily. A simple breathing practice or guided meditation app is easy to start. Don't beat yourself up about being perfect with it, either! Just try and do your best.
Imposter syndrome can be really rough - but just remember, it's okay. Lots of people suffer from it, some of the most successful and highly functioning members of society. Don't beat yourself up, or feel ashamed. We're all human together.
What about you? I'd love to hear about your experience with feelings of self doubt and insecurity. How do you deal with it? Are you dealing with it? Chat with me! You can leave a comment here or if it's too personal, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.