As a small business owner and creative freelancer, it can be so easy to fall prey to imposter syndrome. Whether you are starting your own business, pursuing further education in a field that you are passionate about, or even starting at a new job…it is so easy to feel like you have somehow faked your way into making it to wherever you are, that you have no idea what you are doing, and that you do not deserve to be there.
First of all, you are WRONG! Your success has everything to do with you, and not just luck! It is highly likely that you are where you are today because of your hard work, dedication, and passion for whatever it is that you are doing.
I also think it is important to acknowledge that labelling yourself with imposter syndrome may not be the most accurate to you, or may be a pretty heavy thing to carry. Self doubt may be a better term to utilize in this situation, although I urge you to use whatever resonates best with you. As a young person in the workplace, especially as a woman, it can be hard not to doubt every single move you make, and discount any praise you may receive. As a woman starting out in my career, I can see why so many other women struggle with feelings of imposter syndrome or self doubt. We typically have little to no women to look up to that are CEO's or leaders in our field, people tend to question our leadership qualities / skills more often than they would a man, and we are often times doubted or have to work harder to prove our competence or skills. I just wanted to mention this, as this is likely a huge contributor as to why so many women feel this same way.
Here are some tips and tricks that I use in order to overcome feelings of imposter syndrome & self doubt whenever they arise.
RECOGNIZE THE SIGNS
The key to addressing imposter syndrome, is really being able to recognize these feelings as they arise. Feeling like a fraud, like you have only gotten to where you are because of luck, feeling like everyone else knows what they are doing besides you, all while discounting your own knowledge/expertise are all symptoms of imposter syndrome. Additionally, identifying what events tend to trigger these feelings in yourself may be helpful in your truly understanding where the root of this self doubt comes from. Knowing these general signs and feelings will be the start of you taking action and addressing this very common issue.
BE KIND TO YOURSELF
Although these feelings can be debilitating and potentially prevent you from doing things that may help you succeed, is it important to acknowledge that these feelings are very common and that you are 100% NOT alone in this! Imposter syndrome typically comes along with perfectionism. Holding yourself to such a high and unattainable standard can actually discount all of the successes you have made so far. I have always held myself to such a high standard, that I often don’t feel like I am doing enough, and don’t give myself the time and patience I really need in order to get to where I want to be. Constantly being exposed to people's 'highlight reels' on social media, makes it so easy to rush yourself to the next thing, while forgetting to enjoy the growth and process of actually getting to your desired goal. After all, the journey is supposed to be the best part right? So try to stop rushing yourself to the end, and start enjoying the process of actually getting there!
My advice to you would be: try and take baby steps, do your best to recognize these negative thoughts, and focus on shifting your negative self talk towards more positivity and kindness. I know this is easier said than done (and I am still working on this myself), although it is so helpful to take a second and stop your thoughts in their tracks, while changing your mindset as these thoughts come up.
Additionally, a reality check is sometimes what we really need in order to stop these negative thoughts from actually impacting how we act. Sometimes these feelings can prevent us from applying for that job because we think we aren’t good enough, or will stop us from posting a chatty instagram story because we think we don’t have anything useful to say or that we will make a mistake….STOP!! Take a minute and think about all of the amazing people in your life. People in your life make mistakes all the time, but you don’t view them as a failure or unworthy of all their accomplishments right… So why you? Nobody else can be absolutely perfect, so shift your thinking towards yourself as you would think about /see others in your life. You don’t doubt that the owners of successful businesses or professors are a failure or unworthy of their accomplishments…So why you?
When faced with new challenges, instead of letting imposter syndrome tell you that you are not good enough to take on these new and daunting tasks…step out of your comfort zone and do it anyway! Prove your inner critic wrong and show yourself that you are worthy of your accomplishments.
LIST YOUR SUCCESSES & ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Another amazing way to help combat the feeling of unworthiness and doubt is to actually think about and list all of the amazing things you have accomplished! Whether these things may seem big or really small, write them down. What have you overcome in order to get where you are today (both personally and educationally/career wise)? Take some time to write down your strengths, and think about the hard work, dedication, and talent it has taken for you to get where you are now. Know that all of these strengths you have are a result of your passion, dedication and hard work, and will most definitely lead you to your future successes and learning as well!
Since many people who face feelings of self doubt and imposter syndrome also identify themselves as 'perfectionists', I think it is important to acknowledge that there can be a connection between these things. If you feel like you have perfectionist tendencies, and that you need everything to be perfect or its wrong...you are probably pretty hard on yourself. A lot of times, this may root from growing up in an environment that valued achievements over anything else. I think that recognizing how far you have come is so helpful in combatting self doubt, although I do not think achieving perfection should be your only focus. You do not have to be the best at something you have only tried once or a few times...nor do you have to be perfect at everything. I think that process and evolution is something that has been lost a little bit recently though social media and only presenting your most 'perfect' self! But, the reality is...nobody else is perfect either and you are only being shown the most perfectly planned images, without seeing all of the struggles, fails, and process behind each person's journey. I urge you to keep this in mind before deciding you are a complete failure when comparing yourself to someone else's social media.
It can be so easy to automatically attribute your own successes to luck or somehow convincing everyone that you are something you’re not….The reality is, is that nobody really knows what they’re doing, and that we are all trying to figure it out just like you! Do not discount all of the learning, growth, passion, and hard work that you have put into your business, career, personal life, your education, and everything else! You are doing your best, and you 100% are worthy of all of your accomplishments, successes, and wherever you may find yourself in your journey right now!
That’s all the advice I have for you today, and I really hope that this has given you some insight as to how you can combat feelings of imposter syndrome / self doubt, and that you are NOT alone in this.
Now, go kick some butt out there!