Handling Imposter Syndrome & Knowing That You're Good Enough
I first heard about imposter syndrome a few years ago and I didn't really know what it was. It was something that I always saw businesswomen discussing and it only took a little bit of research to realise that I've always had a serious case of imposter syndrome. Apart from I never knew that was its official name, I always just presumed I was always destined to be riddled with self-doubt for the rest of my life. It's a topic that doesn't get as much coverage as it deserves as I'm pretty it's something that we've all experienced or are still going through now.
WHAT IS IT?
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud"
There isn't a pinnacle moment in my life where I can instantly see this is where my imposter syndrome came from but something I've always struggled with is achievements. During school, I always did well in practical work and assignments but when it came to exams I fell apart, I could revise from dawn till dusk [and did] but that wouldn't matter as soon as I sat at that desk and opened up that paper I would panic and my brain would forget everything. When I was at school no-one talked about the fact that some people just cannot function in exam settings. It doesn't matter how intelligent you are sometimes it just translates to a written exam and that's totally ok. But as that is how you're marked throughout school it can be incredibly damaging. As I went through so many years of having such differing results when it came to going to college and university. Where I thrived it made me incredibly self-conscious and doubt myself constantly. Throughout university, I got great grades and finished with a First Class degree in photography and when I saw that was my result I didn't believe it. I knew that I'd worked incredibly hard but because I'd always struggled with grades so much it made me feel like a fraud and obviously my university were playing a big trick on me that I'd been able to achieve that. Of course, they weren't and I had achieved that grade but my brain couldn't handle it. And that's exactly what imposter syndrome is, it makes you feel like a fraud who doesn't deserve their achievements and is lying.
A DIGITAL CAREER & IMPOSTER SYNDROME
The thing that makes me my living is of course, very much a luxury and it's not something that people need in their lives. I'm not providing some life-saving service but that doesn't mean it doesn't have a place in this world. And because I cannot physically hold what I'm doing that makes it so much harder to believe in. Whilst self-doubt and imposter syndrome are not the same thing they often feel the same way. Thoughts that regularly go through my brain are; Why me? There are so many talented people out there why I am receiving these projects? Maybe they're trying to play a joke on me and it's all going to come to a crashing end soon. And I'm not some sort of expert in what I do, there are things that I constantly get wrong but that doesn't mean I'm a fraud. Believing in myself and what I'm creating doesn't mean I'm some egotistical monster and it's the right thing to do but it's so hard to find a balance between arrogance and feeling like a fraud but I truly believe there is one.
KNOWING YOUR WORTH & BEING PAID
Whilst it would be amazing if everybody could feel confident in their choices and decisions that's never going to be the case. Nobody can see their own self worth like someone from the outside can and it's something that probably plagues us all. We all have something of value to offer to the world no matter what it is and knowing that and having faith in yourself to do that isn't easy. Something that I find myself way too often is downplaying anything I achieve, thinking it's not really that important or that it doesn't matter but that's just doing a huge disservice to myself. And I do believe that knowing your worth is something that comes into play a lot when it comes to making money from your job when you're self-employed. It's well known fact that people don't want to pay for services 95% of the time and if they think they can get things for free then they will try their best to do so. But when you're working and providing a service you deserve to be compensated. No-one would call a plumber expecting them to complete a job and turn around and say that they aren't going to be paid and they can do the work because they enjoy it. It wouldn't fly and it's something that needs to be tackled with digital services and making it known that it's ok to be asked to be paid.
CELEBRATING YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
Like I said, I don't really know anybody who has a tonne of self-confidence and 100% believes in themselves and in some ways I do think a tiny bit of doubt is good as it pushes us to work harder and progress. However, so often that doubt takes over and becomes overwhelming and can stop us achieving the things that we want to strive for in life. As well as knowing that you provide value and having faith in yourself something that I believe is so important when it comes to knowing that you're not a fraud is by celebrating your achievements. Especially in the UK, we don't seem to like to celebrate doing well, we constantly downplay it and make out like it's not a big deal even when it is. By recognising our achievements and even something like cataloging a great e-mail can really help to remind us that we are doing well and aren't frauds who are ripping people off.
THINGS THAT HELP ME HANDLE IMPOSTER SYNDROME
- Constantly reminding myself that nobody is perfect.
- Allowing myself to fail.
- Keeping a record of projects that have not only made me happy but have been well received.
- Reminding myself that it's me who is putting in the work and making my income, I'm not being handed money for doing nothing.
- Banning any type of comparison, whether it's work or personal.
- Telling myself that I can rather than I can't.
Have you ever struggled with imposter syndrome?