Be Gone, Imposter (Syndrome)

Imposter syndrome is such a common byproduct of entrepreneurial life. Especially for women (surprise!). We all have it. For those of you lucky enough not to know what it is, it’s a concept characterised by an inability to internalise one’s accomplishments leading to a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud (thanks Wikipedia!). Basically it’s that nagging feeling that we’re just winging it and hoping no one is on to us. But actually, oftentimes we’re not “just winging it” – our confidence is messing with us and we’ve forgotten how badass we actually are at this job and how far we’ve come. It’s a matter of confidence, not ability. One way of getting your confidence in check at these times is by drawing your attention back to your success and achievements, and realising that they were no accident, my friend. Far from it.

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In Refinery29’s career column “Advice from A Nice Girl”, Fran Hauser (author of the book The Myth Of The Nice Girl) tackles imposter syndrome in the first installment for a reader who feels like “a child wearing adult clothes” in the workplace. Shamelessly stealing Fran’s advice to this reader, here are some tricks to keep your imposter syndrome at bay through purposeful self-reflection resulting in evidence-based confidence. When self-doubt creeps in, ask yourself:

  1. When have I done something difficult . . . and survived?

  2. When have I made wise choices?

  3. When have I done something that has created value for the company I work for, and how did I feel after that happened?

  4. When was the last time I felt really good about my contribution to a project?

Reframe your thinking using the above to realise that you ain’t no imposter and, instead, grow your confidence. Avoid relying on others to validate you (they’re probably going through the same self-doubt anyway) – you know your worth so start actively realising it and banish the imposter.

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Since starting HouseThirteen, especially in the early stages, I definitely had imposter syndrome. I dreaded the question of “oh, how did you start out? Are you from a jewellery background”. No. And, No I didn’t go to art school, No I didn’t work for a big brand, No I don’t make it myself, No I did not follow any type of normal traditional route to where I am. But who cares? I started designing jewellery for myself, thankfully other people liked it too, so here I am after a lot of hard work and love for it (in the tiniest nutshell ever). I learned along the way, got my hands dirty and made a BUNCH of mistakes. Again, who cares? That’s my path and it doesn’t mean I don’t get to be here (even though I didn’t go to Central Saint Martins, but thanks for asking). It’s not just me. I know so many designers, entrepreneurs and professionals who didn’t take the traditional path and they are totally qualified, if not moreso, than those who did. So, you know what, it’s all totally fine. Just check in with yourself once in a while to realise how far you’ve come, how hard you’ve worked and what value you bring.

It’s always helpful to know that we’re not alone with these impostorous feelings, and sometimes it’s good to surround yourself with people, not only with similar experiences, but with inspirational words of advice to help you on your way. Find your tribe, speak to people in similar situations, and remember you don’t only got this but you are the best person for the job. That’s why you’re still here.

S x

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For this blog post I delved into the Lone Design Club archives, as what I wrote there a year ago is still prevalent and something that many of us face almost daily.