I was scrolling through Instagram the other day and saw a post on the Goal Digger Podcast Instagram that was just so accurate I couldn’t help but reshare it. It was about the life of an entrepreneur, and it goes a little something like this:
- This is awesome!
- This is hard.
- This sucks.
- I suck.
- This is okay.
- This rocks!
- I’m awesome!
Being a creative entrepreneur isn’t easy, that’s for sure! While this post made me laugh, I started thinking about what stages 2-4 represent—imposter syndrome.
Ah, yes…good ol’ imposter syndrome. If you’ve been a freelancer for a while, there’s a good chance you’ve heard this phrase before. Heck, you’ve probably experienced it a time or two.
As freelancers and creative entrepreneurs, it’s likely we’ll all go through phases where we don’t feel good enough. Whether we get caught up in comparing ourselves to others in our industry or we’re experiencing a dip in business, imposter syndrome can add a huge strain on your emotional state.
Those that experience imposter syndrome are constantly doubting themselves and feeling like they’re in over their heads. The worst part is you can feel on top of the world and like you’ve got it all figured out one minute, but all it takes is one wrong move to make you feel like you’re in over your head.
The (relatively) good news? Pretty much every entrepreneur feels it at some point. Chances are those people you’re comparing yourself to have felt it, too. The truth is, no one is immune to imposter syndrome. Here’s how to deal with it when imposter syndrome strikes.
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1. Let Yourself Feel It
The first step to dealing with imposter syndrome is to accept it. Sure it sounds a little cheesy, but acknowledging it is the only way to overcome it. So, let yourself feel it. Wallow in it for a few minutes if you need to, but then it’s time to deal with it so you can move on.
2. Identify Why You Feel Like an Imposter
Once you’ve acknowledged what you’re feeling, figure out the cause. Identifying what’s making you feel insecure will help you determine if you’re being too hard on yourself. Once you know why you feel the way you do, you can take steps to overcome the feeling of imposter syndrome.
Did you make a mistake on a project? What happened and how can you fix it in the future? Own up to your mistake and try to move on.
Did what your client was saying totally go over your head? It happens! As an extension of their business, you’re probably never going to know everything that goes on within it. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your client will appreciate your taking the time to clarify rather than guessing through the whole project. When all else fails, Google!
3. Channel You Inner Wonder Woman
There’s an episode of Grey’s Anatomy where Dr. Amelia Shepherd is getting ready to perform a difficult surgery and to give herself a much-needed confidence boost, she assumes a superhero pose. You know the one; standing up straight, legs spread wide, chin held high and hands on your hips.
Does it look odd? Yes. Will you feel a little goofy? Absolutely! But, holding a superhero pose for two to five minutes is scientifically proven to boost your confidence, leadership abilities, and authenticity. Seriously, check it out here.
When you’re dealing with imposter syndrome, take a few moments to channel your inner Wonder Woman and remember just how awesome you are.
4. Own Your Success
Here’s a secret. I keep an email folder called “Cheerleading.” It might sound silly but in that folder, I keep all my emails from clients telling me how happy they were with my work, people who have reached out from my blog, and client testimonials. When imposter syndrome sets in, I look through that folder and it helps to get me out of my funk.
Whether or not you start your own cheerleading folder, remember to own your success. When someone praises you, don’t brush it off. Accept it, own it, bask in it!
6. Keep Working
When imposter syndrome strikes, it may be tempting to hide under the covers and avoid all things work for the next several days. Fight through that feeling and keep working. Quitting when you already feel like a failure is only going to make you feel worse than you already do.
6. Practice Gratitude
Take time each morning or at the end of the day to write down a few things you’re grateful for. Really think about specific things or moments that made you feel good each day. Appreciating the little things that pepper your life can help to put things into perspective when things start feeling bleak.
7. Stay In Your Lane
One of the leading causes of imposter syndrome is getting too caught up in what the people around you are doing. It’s easy to do, but it can be really harmful to your self-esteem. Not falling into the comparison trap may be easier said than done, but you can take steps to limit it. Keep your head down and focus on what you’re doing, not what everyone else is doing. You’ll not only be happier, but it will help to bring a unique perspective to what you’re doing because you won’t be tempted to follow what others have done.
8. Find a Mentor
Sometimes you just need someone to lean on and while friends and family are great, having a mentor who’s been where you are is so beneficial to dealing with imposter syndrome. Attend networking events or join Facebook groups to connect with other creative entrepreneurs.
9. Fake It Until You Make It
If your imposter syndrome is the result of feeling like you don’t fit in or you’re not experienced enough, the best thing you can do is fake it until you make it. Research has shown acting a certain way can help to change your way of thinking and reduce feelings of inadequacy. Basically, faking it until you make it will eventually help you feel more confident over time.
10. Accept That Mistakes Happen
Everyone makes mistakes, everyone fails. The thing to remember is just because you make a mistake or fail, doesn’t mean you’re a fraud. Channel your inner Jen Sincero and remember, you are a badass that doesn’t quit when the going gets tough.'The only failure is quitting. The rest is just gathering information.' - Jen SinceroClick To Tweet
The bottom line is imposter syndrome happens to even the most successful of people. Learning tactics to overcome the feeling will help you bounce back faster and keep the overwhelming feeling of imposter syndrome at bay in the future.