Photo: Jacoby Photo & Design
Whew – this blog post is going to get a little personal. Are you ready?
If you haven't heard about imposter syndrome before, it's time that we talk about it. Tina Fey helped bring this little-known syndrome to light in her book, "Bossypants," when she lamented that no matter how "successful" she became (hello, she was on SNL!), she constantly feared being "outed" as a fraud. Just in case you need a more official definition:
"Imposter syndrome (also known as imposter phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the imposter 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."
I've dealt with my fair share of imposter syndrome over the years, too. My first taste of it came my senior year of college, when I was appointed editor-in-chief of my college newspaper. Sure – I'd worked hard to land that position, but...how could someone like me be qualified? To lead a team? To have the power to hire, fire and publish? Nah...there's no way I was meant to be in that position.
And yet, I successfully made it through one of the most trying years of my life.
As a business owner, my imposter syndrome has come creeping back – and it isn't welcome here anymore! I can't tell you how many times I've gotten that nervous feeling in my stomach when a signed client contract comes back or an invoice is marked as "paid," when I feel like I deserve none of this because I'm going to be "found out" that I really don't know what I'm doing.
And y'know what? I'm not the only business owner dealing with these feelings, either. Take it from my friend and copywriting extraordinaire Kayla Hollatz:
"My imposter syndrome kicks in when I think about my youth. I've heard "You're so successful for being so young" enough times to have me constantly question if I have what it takes to work with people who have more experience. Short answer, yes I do!"
Does that sound like you, too? Here are three ways that I'm overcoming imposter syndrome in my business and saying no to not feeling like enough from now on.
I keep a business journal to record my highs...and lows.
Ever since I took my business full-time I've made a point to record memories from each week in my business journal, which is a separate journal from my personal one. I use this notebook to record the highs ("I landed my ideal client this week, yasss!") and lows ("Ugh, I'm behind on a design project") that come along with business. When I feel those fraudulent feelings creeping back in, I use this notebook as solid proof that I'm doing OK, and I read the highs aloud to affirm that.
I feel the fear – and keep on keeping on.
Navigating your business and career is scary. Especially when you're managing it all on your own. Honestly? I get scared over something in my business each and every day, whether it's dealing with taxes or figuring out how to bring a client's design request to life perfectly. But I'm trying to use the energy of that fear to motivate me to work hard, rather than recoil in fear. Harnessing your energy in a positive way is a powerful thing!
Remember: we're all just weird humans.
This is something that I've been trying to live by. I'm human. I'm a real, breathing, eating, sleeping (and sometimes napping!) person who isn't a machine built to solely work. Sometimes things are going to go awry in my life, and my emotions may get the best of me – and that's OK. I have to remind myself that we're all just figuring it out. There's no such thing as the "perfect" business owner or the "perfect" employee. Where I am in my career is the best most successful place that I've ever been, because I'm happy. And being happy? Sometimes, that's the best by-product of success.
Have you dealt with imposter syndrome in the past, or are you dealing with it now? I'd love to hear about your struggles in the comments so that we can encourage each other!