Impostor Syndrome: 3 Ways to Nip It in the Bud

“Is this article even publish-worthy?”

“My client is going to request a million revisions.”

“Am I really a talented writer?”

These are just some of the many destructive thoughts that go through a freelance writer’s mind when impostor syndrome takes over.

But impostorism doesn’t only affect writers. Have you ever felt like you are not qualified for your job? Do you stress about others being more competent? If so, impostor syndrome may be holding you back from pursuing your dreams and reaching your full potential.

What Is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is a feeling of inadequacy despite ample evidence of your skills and knowledge. This psychological pattern causes people to doubt their accomplishments and have an internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” According to the article “The Impostor Phenomenon” published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, approximately 70% of people feel like an impostor at some point in their lives.

The most common symptoms are:

  • Believing that you got where you are only because of luck or help from others
  • Feeling afraid that you will lose your job if people discover you as a fake or an impostor
  • Comparing yourself with others and thinking they are better than you

Freelancers often suffer from self-doubt. If you work for yourself, you know that some days are worse than others. But knowing how to manage and overcome it will help you emerge stronger and excel in your career.

3 Ways to Overcome Self-Doubt

Next time you feel impostor syndrome creeping up, nip it in the bud with these three infallible strategies (that have worked for me!):

1. Share Your Experiences with Other Freelancers

The best way to crush impostor syndrome is to connect with other freelancers. A sense of community is imperative for long-term sanity. You will be shocked by the number of people who can relate to your feelings and experiences if you open up about them.

In a social media-centric world, it’s easy to get caught up in the highlight reels of total strangers. Having a network of freelancer friends is valuable in times of struggle, especially when it comes to feeling like an impostor. It may sound counterintuitive, but humans have an innate need for reassurance. Freelancing gets lonely sometimes, and it’s comforting to have others remind us that we aren’t alone.

2. Zoom Out and Look at the Bigger Picture

When life overwhelms us, we often lose sight of our accomplishments. If this sounds like you, take a moment to breathe. Think about everything you’ve learned in your career so far. Each lesson along the way is guiding your future success. When all else fails, look back at your past work to see how far you’ve come.

Remember that freelancing is a journey, no matter your industry. Perfection doesn’t exist, and we need to accept that. Let’s normalize recognizing and celebrating all progress, no matter how big or small!

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

If you ever feel doubtful, know there is no shame in asking for help. It is a sign of strength!

Occasionally, I produce articles where I just don’t “feel it” at that moment. No matter how many times I go back to proofread and edit, it seems like I’m making no progress. Feelings of uncertainty start to consume me. During these times, I ask my partner or a trusted friend to read over my writing and get feedback before submitting the piece. Hearing something as simple as “The article is easy to read and understand, even for someone who knew nothing about the topic going into it,” gives me confidence that I’m on the right track. A lot of the time, it’s all I need to finally hit that publish button.

If you aren’t already, get comfortable with seeking advice from the pros when you need it. There will always be someone that knows more than you – and that’s okay (and a good thing)! You can learn new things from an expert in your field, and pass on that knowledge to someone who looks up to you. The bottom line? We accomplish great things by helping each other.

It’s Not Just You; High-Achievers Experience Impostorism, Too

You might be surprised at the number of successful people who feel like frauds.

Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg shared in her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, “Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself — or even excelled — I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up.”

This goes to show that even individuals with brilliant track records have felt like impostors before.

Fight Your Inner Impostor to Win at Life

Impostor syndrome can be crippling. Some days, it feels like the walls are closing in on us.

The reality is, though, that we are all “faking it to make it” in some way. Everyone starts somewhere, and everyone is trying their best. And if you are smart enough to get to where you are now, then it means there is a reason why those doors opened for you. Don’t belittle your hard work, experience, and skills! Be proud of your growth.

By recognizing the signs of impostor syndrome, you can take action to prevent your fears from hindering your progress. And in case no one has told you yet today… You are worthy. You are enough. You are capable of doing incredible things!

Have you encountered impostor syndrome? How do you combat self-doubt so that your accomplishments feel meaningful to yourself and others?

This article was originally published on LinkedIn.

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