Dealing with imposter syndrome?

Hey guys,

Thanks for checking in.

As always, I hope you’re all safe and well during these crazy times we’re all going through.

Today, I want to talk about something I honestly didn’t know anything about until very recently. A feeling or feelings that I have been struggling with for a few years now and quite frankly something I’ve probably dealt with my entire life without even know about it.

I’m talking about what’s known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’, which is actually a pretty common thing a lot of people go through throughout their lifetime.

What is Imposter Syndrome (IS)?

There are a few different variations of IS, so I’ll be talking about six of them and try to explain how I deal with them in my every day life.

Imposter Syndrome isn’t categorized as a mental illness but still refers to an internal experience of believing that you’re not as competent as people perceive you to be. So, basically it’s your experience of feeling like a phony or fraud, where you feel as though at any moment you’re going to be called out as a fraud.

It’s important to note that it can affect anyone and won’t depend on your social status, work, skills or level of expertise.

Let’s note down the six variations of imposter syndrome:

  1. You don’t think you deserve your success.
  2. You are a procrastinator or a perfectionist.
  3. You are afraid of being exposed as a fake.
  4. You fear failure.
  5. You need to be the best.
  6. You constantly compare yourself to others’.

A lot of things come to mind when reading these six variations of imposter syndrome. When you read the word ‘syndrome’, you probably instantly think of a mental illness or something bad, right? I know I did. When I first discovered IS and kept reading more about it, I almost instantly thought there was something seriously wrong with me – but, as I kept reading I quickly figured that this is a very common thing for many people.

‘You need to be the best’ might not sound bad, but trust me, when you mix that up with constantly comparing yourself to other’s, then that’s where it will all go wrong. We’ve all heard of the saying ‘be the best you can be’, which is the better version of ‘you need to be the best’, because you’ll always compare yourself to you and not to others’.

How becoming a designer changed everything

For those of you who don’t know me I’m currently in school studying multimedia design to become a UI/UX designer post graduation next year. Ever since I started school some of these variations and thoughts has been permanently injected into my every day life.

When you start out doing something new – especially when designing something visually or writing something for others’ to see, you will most definitely feel some sort of imposter syndrome. One ‘bonus’ variation or extension of #3 above is the fear of not being able to come up with your own original stuff. If you’re a designer, a writer, a youtuber, a painter or whatever – this is probably very relevant to you.

I remember when I started designing, I spent a good chunk of my days researching other peoples’ work and try to implement the best things into my own designs. At first I didn’t really think about it, but the more I felt inspired by other designs, the more I felt like I was copying someone else. Whenever I post my work on Instagram or on other platforms, I do fear every comment being someone calling me out for copying and I need to stop feeling like that. I’ve been really hard on myself for doing this and I’m still trying to convince myself that it’s okay – as long as I don’t fully copy/paste another design and take credit for it, but simply just implement ideas into my own work – have you ever felt like this?

Since design is a very new field of work for me coming from a sales background, I struggle with wanting to be the best and as mentioned before – I do compare myself to others’.

How do I (try to) fight it then?

I could sit here and write pages about how I feel in certain situations, but honestly the six variations listed above are so universal and simply described that you’ve all probably experienced it yourselves. So, let’s talk a little bit about how I deal with and fight these experiences on a daily basis.

To deal with the fact that I’m also a perfectionist I do a lot of design challenges from Sharpen Design and put a time limit on the projects so that I practice how to trust my initial feeling and thought process. E.g. I have to create a landing page for a BBQ Pit in Dallas, TX and I give myself a time limit of 30 minutes to complete it. This way, hopefully, I’ll be better at trusting myself and my skills.

The Cowboys BBQ Pit. Sharpen Design Challenge.

Recently I founded my own company called Clickidy – described more here. I’ve always wanted to be my own boss and my goal is to work as a freelance UI/UX designer and become a digital nomad. This was a massive step for me because of the fear of failure. I’m soon to be 29 years old and I’ve never really been financially stable, which is insane when you think about it. I’ve never owned a car, I’ve never owned any property or anything like that. I’m just not the settle down kind of guy and I probably never will be. I’m fighting the fear of failure every day and since I’m still at the early stages of creating Clickidy, I’m walking around fearing what might happen if I continue to invest into it.

I’m currently on summer break for the next two months and I’ve set up ground rules for myself, so that I can have a productive summer. Working on my portfolio, fake projects to get experience and complete courses might sound like a terrible summer, but since we can’t really travel or do anything, I figured I might as well work on my ‘issues’ to make sure I’m well prepared for the second and final half of my education.

The last think, I want to mention is this specific group I’ve talked about for a long time and they’ve been such a big part of my life for the past couple of years – I’m talking about Yes Theory and their motto of ‘Seek Discomfort’. If you don’t know them I urge you to look them up on YouTube or follow this link. They’re currently closing in on 7 million subscribers and they make the most amazing content.

‘We believe that life’s greatest moments and deepest connections exist outside your comfort zone.’

Yes Theory, Seek Discomfort

These guys are amazing and their communities were actually the ones pushing me to create Clickidy, my future website and follow my dreams of becoming my own boss. It’s hard to describe how much these group help people like me on a daily basis and I can’t thank them enough.

Wrapping up

It’s super hard to put feelings like this into a written post, because it’s nothing concrete – it comes and goes. Some days I might not feel it and other days I might feel all of the variations at once. Signs of self-doubt, setting unreachable goals, sabotaging your own success etc., it something a lot of people deal with – including myself.

My point is that it’s going to be okay. You’re not alone, you’re not the only one experiencing this. I’m terrible at talking about it and I’m afraid of being judged, so this post is another big step for me. There are so many small steps you can take to improve your fears daily, e.g. making a schedule, read about this syndrome, talk to people about it, write about it – just express yourself and you’ll be okay. I promise.

I’m going to stop here, guys. I can keep writing about this. If you’re reading this – you’re going to okay! Reach out if you have questions or would like to express yourself here.

Thanks for stopping by, guys.

Take care,

Junior out.

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