Imposter syndrome is something that I’ve dealt a lot with in my “real” career as well as my blogging/interior design career. No matter how hard I’ve worked my ass off, or how much training/practice I’ve gone through, there’s always that thought in the back of my head. “When am I gonna get found out?” And I know that I’m not alone here. There are tons of people in the workforce who deal with this specific anxiety.
What’s kinda fucked up is that the more successful people get, the more they tend feel this way. It’s that lurking feeling where you doubt your abilities, question whether your accomplishments were truly earned, and sometimes feel like a fraud. Like your spot belongs to someone else.
Take this blog for example. Even though I have a growing list of blog subscribers, steadily increasing website traffic, and I’m actually seeing some consistent monthly revenue, it still feels so hard to give myself credit. I find myself meekly saying “I have a little blog as a side hustle.” When by any standards, I would probably be considered to have a growing business..
although it’s natural, it’s gotta stop
We are doing ourselves no favors by stealing credit away from ourselves. Sure, you may or may not have had some luck on the way here, almost every successful person has to varying degrees. But that doesn’t mean you’re not worthy.
Like I said, this happens to tons of people everywhere, especially high-performing people and especially women and especially people of color. And it is often exacerbated by systemic discrimination. When you’re in a minority (racial, sexual, body type, etc.) anywhere, you start to question why you’re the exception. Although imposter syndrome isn’t the cause that holds many groups of people back from succeeding, it is a heavy personal load to carry. And that’s reason enough to try to tackle it.
When you’re constantly feeling the anxiety of second-guessing, worrying that you’re gonna get found out, and thinking that you don’t belong on the top, it wears on you. And it can either make you burn out by constantly trying to prove yourself, or it could make you just wanna give it up altogether.
That’s a shitty feeling either way.
Since this is something that I’ve struggled with in a variety of areas in my life, I’ve learned some tips to help me cope. These definitely don’t eliminate the feeling – it always finds some way to creep in. But it can help me re-center myself when I need it and remember that I fucking belong here.
how to fight imposter syndrome
Stop comparing yourself. I often find that when I feel most imposter-y is when I try to compare myself to other people who are doing something similar to me. It’s almost like a jealousy. And since my reaction is usually the “work hard and almost burn out” route I mentioned earlier, it sends me into a manic shuffle to just get shit done and “catch up.” I mask it in my mind as being “motivational,” but really it’s just unfounded panic and insecurity.
I find myself looking at what they present to the world and take that as fact. Which we all know is dumb as shit on social media. At this point, representations on social media are almost always skewed more positive than realistic. So it’s completely pointless to judge yourself in comparison to what you think you see going on there.
And regardless, even if someone else is representing themself 100% authentically, what’s that got to do with you? More than just a select few people are deserving of success, so just remind yourself that there’s room for you, too.
Celebrate your victories. We never miss the opportunity to acknowledge our failures, whether it’s to learn from it or just to get down on ourselves. But it’s so important to celebrate your successes, too.
Let’s say you just got a promotion, you just surpassed your all time website traffic high, you made your first sale, or you just finished a really great piece of art. All of these successes are not nothing, because they are all a contributor to your success.
If you get in the habit of celebrating your victories, you’re giving yourself a constant reminder of why you deserve everything that you’ve gotten. Your success isn’t random and it’s not going to be taken away at any moment. Because this is proof that you have worked for it and are continuing to work for it.
Look at yourself objectively. We all know the phrase, “you are your own worst critic.” It’s so popular because it’s so true. So hypothetically eliminate your personal connection to the situation.
If you picture a different person with the exact same qualifications and life experiences and portfolio as you, I’m gonna assume you wouldn’t doubt their validity.
This is a great exercise to both acknowledge all of the stuff you’ve done to get there and also realize that you probably wouldn’t think twice about questioning that person, so people probably aren’t questioning you, either.
Remind yourself that you are more than your work. This is huge. And even when that imposter syndrome does kick in, it takes the power away from it.
When you remind yourself that there is so much more to you than your success in the professional world, so much weight is taken off your shoulders. Suddenly the need to “prove” yourself (only to yourself, most likely) is not the most pressing thing on your mind.
You acknowledge that you are so valuable in all areas of your life. Whether that’s being a good friend/partner/parent, being a great karaoke-r, a dedicated gym-goer, or maybe even just really good at decorating your home. It could even be things like being a great listener or having the best music taste.
Bottom line: there is so much more to you than your job, so don’t make whether you’re “worthy” of your success or not the end all be all.
And surprisingly, when you do realize all of the other shit that’s great about it, it may even make this imposter syndrome shrink. Most likely, these traits that are seemingly unrelated to work, may just be part of your special sauce that makes you so uniquely qualified to be exactly where you are right now.
It just takes a little bit of self-reflection sometimes to realize, “you know what, I am that bitch.”
So cut yourself some slack, tell yourself congratulations, and remind yourself that you are 100% worthy of success.
keep it homey, homies