As a freelancer, have you ever had to deal with imposter syndrome?
Have you ever felt like a fraud? Like you don’t really have that much expertise and experience when compared to others…
And that one day, someone is going to find out just like you did, that all your achievement was pure luck?
If you’ve said yes to any of the questions above, then this post is for you. Yes!
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is classic self doubt. It is an internalized experience of doubting your skills, expertise and believing that your accomplishments were borne out of sheer luck.
Some of the major symptoms of impostor syndrome includes;
- The feeling of being a fraud,
- Inability to internalize or accept your success and
- The fear of getting discovered as a pretender.
Just like you, many freelancers, creative professionals and other self employed people have suffered from impostor syndrome at some point in their career.
At some point they’ve had to question their skills, their achievements and their ability to compete with others.
Is Imposter syndrome peculiar to Freelancers?
Imposter syndrome is not just peculiar to freelancers and creative people alone…
The reason it seems very rampant with this set of professionals is because naturally, their work is consistently criticized and adjudged by outsiders.
Either because the outsiders are the ones that own the work. Or they’re the ones that’ll enjoy the finished work.
Most times, these outsiders do not have the requisite experience to judge the quality of work turned out by the freelancers.
Or they may judge it based on their own sentiments and personal expectations…
Yet consciously or unconsciously, as a freelancer, sometimes these criticism will definitely get to you.
And if you’re not careful it’ll poke holes at your confidence as a skilled expert.
And your ability to stay on course as a professional.
How Imposter Syndrome affects Freelancers
For some freelancers, one of the major effects of imposter syndrome is that a continuous lack of confidence in your competence will lead you to act in a way that’ll make the client believe that you’re not actually good enough.
For others it’ll affect their ability to charge the right fees for their services.
And still, others may choose to quit freelancing altogether, due to consistent self doubt.
You don’t want to get to this stage before you begin to find ways to deal with impostor syndrome…
As someone that’s had to struggle with imposter syndrome in my early years of freelancing, I’ll be sharing with you some of the tips that helped me to deal with feeling like a fraud…
Like me, the guidelines below will help you to overcome impostor syndrome and retrieve your life back as the professional that you are…
Recognize your Achievement is not a fluke
As a freelancer, the first step to deal with imposter syndrome is to recognize that your achievement was not a fluke.
Easy or not, your accomplishments were borne out of your skills, experience and hard work.
It doesn’t matter whether other people helped you along the way.
Or whether there were some tools that made it much less difficult, you did the job.
You have to recognize that.
Remember, one of the reasons why you feel like an impostor is because you tend to forget details of the work you had to do to get to where you are…
Including the skills, the experience and the effort you put into the work to create the results you got.
Steps to Recognize your Achievements
To make it easy for you to recognize your achievements and overcome impostor syndrome, find a way to remind yourself all these things.
Start with taking your mind through the process that led to the success. Capture every bit of the details.
Find out, what did you do differently? How much did you sacrifice? How much skills did you have to learn?
Take note of these things. And refer to them whenever the impostor syndrome comes up in your head.
Remind yourself of other Achievements
Dealing with impostor syndrome can be quite challenging.
Sometimes, you might need to keep reminding yourself of other achievements you’ve made during your journey as a freelancer.
This could be some certifications, trainings, recognition, experience etc.
Normally, you can get so used to your achievements that it now looks like you had your them out of sheer luck and maybe favor. Not out of your own effort.
And sometimes in your very busy schedule as an entrepreneur, you might get to forget about the work you had to put in to achieve these things.
Truth is, this outlook at your achievements is not helping you.
It’s time to go through your achievements, review them and remind yourself about how proud of yourself you felt when you to achieve those things.
Worse case scenario?
Hang them somewhere either on your walls, fridge or somewhere you can see them quite easily.
Let them remind you about how far you’ve come.
Do the difficult things
For some people, the easiest way to deal with impostor syndrome is to successfully try out challenging tasks outside your comfort zone.
Doing this does not only deepen your experience, it sharpens you skill set and improves your self confidence.
At some point, along this journey, you’ll discover that consistent growth is one of the most effective ways to build your self confidence.
You’ll also get to realize that sometimes, this level of growth lies outside your comfort zone.
And to get to it, you need to take up challenging activities that gets you outside that comfort zone.
Psychologically, doing things outside your comfort zone has a way of boosting your confidence in your abilities.
And the more confident you are, the less you’ll feel unworthy of the success you deserve.
Over time; stepping out of your comfort zone will help you to validate your own belief in your abilities.
And there’s nothing as powerful as this belief coming right from your inside out.
Celebrate your little wins
Have you done something exceptional recently?
Have you been accorded some accolades?
Accept it gracefully.
A lot of people feel that being modest will make them appear more humble than others.
Trust me, humility has never paid a freelancer’s bill. Not yesterday. Not today. Not tomorrow
You need to know the difference between being humble and downplaying your success because you feel you don’t deserve it.
As someone that’s had to deal with this for a long time, I can tell you, down playing your success in the name of modesty has a way of reducing the value of your achievements both within your own eyes and that of your audience.
I understand, you don’t have to flaunt your achievements in other people’s faces but; stop deflating them.
You worked hard to get those achievements…
Learn to appreciate people that celebrate you for the things you achieve.
And also work on celebrating your own achievements.
Give yourself both accolades and presents for some specific things you achieve. And take out time to mention them when you have to.
Because a lot of people who are not half as good as you are already celebrating themselves even in the midst of their mediocrity.
Begin to celebrate yourself.
Stop Comparing Yourself
One of the easiest ways to overcome impostor syndrome is to stop comparing yourself unnecessarily to other people.
As you’d probably know, self-comparison is one of the easiest routes to self-doubt.
For instance, the moment you begin to compare yourself with other freelancers and realize that some of them are higher up in the freelancing ladder you might begin to feel like you’re not good enough.
This happens all the time.
Especially at instances where clients give out jobs with open bids.
In cases like this, sometimes; the resume of other applying freelancers might get you scared. And even lead you to refuse bidding for the job.
Instead of comparing yourself with others, work on developing your skill set and celebrating the ones you have already.
No matter the number of experts with better looking resume, go ahead and apply for the work you feel you have requisite expertise to handle.
Understand the Sentiments
The thing about the creative and freelancing industry is that sometimes, your work is going to be judged by people with sentiments but no requisite expertise.
You need to keep this at the back of your mind, always.
Understand, the people judging you might not be experts in that field.
They might be people that paid you to get the job done but that doesn’t make them experts.
Most of the time, their judgment will always be based on their personal expectations from you…
Or some personal sentiments. And not a specific knowledge of what you could have done.
And as such, that’s not necessarily an indictment on your expertise.
Also, as a content creator in the creative industry, for some reason or the other, a cross section of your audience may not get to appreciate your work at all times.
While you’ll want to take note of their reaction, do not judge your expertise based on their approval or disapproval of your work.
Finally, analyze and identify your thought for what it is, an impostor syndrome.
Do not deny, validate or waive it.
Allow your mind to acknowledge it for what it is.
Do not condemn yourself for having an impostor syndrome. Understand that it’s perfectly fine to feel that you’re not good enough, when you’re really not good enough.
Remember also that while there may be areas or certain things you’re not good enough with, there are some specific areas that you’re fantastic at.
So, do yourself a favor by not putting all your focus on your inadequacies.
Always remember that at some point, even the most confident person can feel inadequate. So, you’re not alone. And for this reason, do not let the thought immobilize you.
Acknowledge it for what it is, a mere thought. And separate it from your reality.
In your mind, come to terms with the fact that you are deserving of success just like any other person because you’ve worked hard for it.
At the end of the day, dealing with impostor syndrome starts with improving your believe in yourself and your capacity to deliver results as a professional.
And you can’t get to this point without recognizing your current achievements, acknowledging and celebrating them and using each and everyone of them to boost your expertise.
As you go out to deal with imposter syndrome after reading this post, I want you to remember that you don’t have to wait to become the world best freelancer before you recognize that you’re good and deserving of recognition.
Even if you’re just starting out today, stay on course, work hard to create a mark for yourself. And, never forget to tell it to whoever cares to listen, the things that makes you stand out.
So, there you have the most important tips to deal with imposter syndrome…
Do you need any further help? Speak with our support team here.
Now it’s your turn. What’s the biggest manifestation of impostor syndrome you’ve had to deal with? Let’s hear you!