What is imposter syndrome?
Have you ever had those days where you look at your work and think, “I hope this is good enough.” or “ What if they don’t like my ideas…” Maybe sometimes you think that when something doesn’t work out exactly the way you expect on a project that you are a failure. Whether it be with some technique you can’t seem to grasp or a loss in client communication, sometimes you feel like a fake. You hope no one finds out how you work because that isn’t how real designers work.
Often we compare ourselves to others we think are 100% confident in their work. No one is confident all the time, not even your creative heroes.
Imposter syndrome looks like constantly going back to change something in your design, not because you know it can improve, but because you feel like you don’t now what the best choices are and your design is a mess from your lack of trust in yourself. It happens.
So what do actual imposters look like?
The imposter is happy to just be a tool, something to make someone else’s idea come to life because that someone doesn’t know how, but has an idea-and money to pay to use them. An imposter is like a screwdriver, they are a tool to be used, not use tools to create.
We all doubt who we are and if we are going to be “found out”, but if you are worried about being an imposter, you can know you aren’t one.
Real designers ask questions, and work to find answers, then own their decisions.
Why it happens
We doubt ourselves when we are tired and the ideas just won’t come. We doubt ourselves when design starts to feel like work and we feel like we are forcing our creativity to work and nothing is happening. Insecurity is the seed that grows into imposter syndrome.
It’s a lot of pressure to be designers and we care very much about screwing things up on a daily basis.
Some designers get defensive about their work when they are questioned about it because many times they have also already been doubting it themselves.
How to fight it
Confidence as a creative comes from knowing your reasons. Figuring out your reasons requires having and following a process, questioning your decisions, and trusting yourself.
When you [as your own worst critic] can question yourself, and your own decisions and motives, you won’t get defensive when others do the same-because you have answers.
IF you have a process and if you are able to ask why and answer all of the questions about your design, you will immediately–as a natural by product– feel more confident.
You know you’ve done great work when your peers recognize it, you feel good about it from as objective a standpoint as you can, and your client is satisfied with it.
Confidence will come, and sometimes it will go. But believe that you can be a great designer, do the work, don’t give up, question your motives, and imposter syndrome will be less and less a part of your life and you will have the tools to fight it when it is.