I’m at that point in my career where I have mixed feelings about being the only designer in my company: most of the days I love it, but sometimes I feel like an imposter. It might look like I have everything under control, but in reality, I feel like I’m constantly failing and every new task leaves me more anxious. There are times where it gets so bad that I even question if I really should be doing this, especially without “proper” design education.
Can I call myself a designer? Based on which criteria?
As it turns out, I’m not the only one that feels like this, and it’s not a mere newbie thing. Natasha Jen and Michael Beirut, two of Pentagram’s partners, confessed in an interview that it’s impossible to know everything and that there’s always some fear when it comes to designing.
Imposter syndrome: the constant fear of failure
Apparently what I’ve been feeling lately (and a lot through life) is something that is a reality to a lot of people, including highly successful and powerful ones.
Those you are more perfectionists (guilty), tend to feel it more. Since they set up unrealistic goals for themselves, when they aren’t able to meet them, they suffer from insecurity and significant self-doubt. Without acknowledging and trying to fight it back, this syndrome might end up affecting the person’s mental health and in the long run, all aspects of personal and professional life.
So if any of this sounds familiar to you, here’s what to do from now on to deal with imposter syndrome:
1. Talk to someone about it.
I constantly sabotage myself by saying that I ‘m not a designer and that others are the real ones when talking to close people. Their answer tends to be the same; you’re a designer as much as everyone else’s. Although I find this hard to believe, when I hear it from someone else, I feel more confident.
2. Embrace failure.
This one is tough for me. Of course, I know that no one knows everything and that often failure is the ultimate learning tool. Still, it feels like a personal blow when you’re pleased with work, and it gets rejected. It makes you wonder if you’re capable of that task. But I’m working on this point.
3. Accept you and your imperfections.
It’s a fucking cliche, but we are all work in progress. We’re not the same as yesterday, and hopefully, tomorrow we will be better than today.
I look back at the work I’ve done, and things that I’ve said and I would most definitely do them differently, but maybe I wouldn’t be the same.
So now I’m trying to enter this new mindset; “done is better than perfect “is it really?).
Let me know if you know someone on the same boat as I am right now, and tell them to read this post. Also, here is some additional advice from Ted Talks that may help.