Most of us think Imposter Syndrome decides to pop in when we’re feeling “unfamiliar”, “unprepared”, or “not as far along” as we’d like to be.
And that’s all completely true.
Imposter Syndrome can also hit (and usually with a surprising amount of force) when we start to ACTUALLY see results for our efforts.
Now, this might seem really weird and not make sense… and that’s because it shouldn’t and our brains are huge assholes.
But it is a thing, and I decided to discuss it because it took me (as always) by surprise when I started to see it happening in myself. So this post is going to go over some ways I identified when my “successes” were being overshadowed by Imposter Syndrome, and a few helpful ways I fought back against it.
First of all… WTF is going on?
This post was inspired by my recent experience regarding a full-time copywriting position with a company who reached out to me via recruiter.
While the job sounded exciting, Imposter Syndrome was right there the moment this adventure began. I kept going “this isn’t going to pan out, so don’t get too emotionally attached to it” (and if THAT isn’t an Imposter Syndrome catchphrase, I don’t know what is).
But I didn’t recognize it as that, and actually thought that was me being MINDFUL. I thought I was putting in the effort to NOT let my self-worth be tied to whether or not I was brought onto their team.
And while that wasn’t entirely untrue, I also recognized that there was no reason to be such a negative, self-deprecating dumbo over it.
So I went through each interview phase, believing I flubbed it, and then finding out that I would move forward to the next stage. I even had to write a test article… and if THAT wasn’t an Imposter Syndrome field day, I tell ya.
I was telling myself: “no big deal, you probably didn’t pass”, “no big deal, you probably wrote a shitty blog (even though I’ve been literally writing blogs for almost 10 years)”, etc, etc.
Again, part of this pep-talk WAS with the best of intentions, and mindfulness practices… but, again… Imposter Syndrome was allowing me to convince myself that things WOULDN’T work out from the start… and that’s something I still have to work on.
This is why it’s so important to recognize how sneaky Imposter Syndrome really is… but we also have to remember that Imposter Syndrome ISN’T malicious. It’s a survival mechanism, it’s our lizard brain trying to protect us from what it perceives as harm… and that’s why it can seem very compassionate at first.
How I Recognize It
It’ll never go away, okay? Let’s just make that clear from the start. Imposter Syndrome will always be with us (read about why Imposter Syndrome can actually be an awesome thing to have). However, one of the most important things we can do is learn how to recognize it.
We WILL get better and quicker at noticing when Imposter Syndrome is showing up, it just takes practice like everything else. Here are some of the patterns I notice (in myself) that help me catch Imposter Syndrome when it’s at its subtlest:
- Extra Irritable
I notice I have a WAY shorter fuse with myself, and with others, when I’m feeling Imposter Syndrome. Every little thing gets me a little riled up, and this is usually the first signal I notice.
- Maternal Self-Depreciation
One of the biggest struggles as a freelance copywriter has been juggling motherhood alongside it. Finding the balance between being a good mom and successful writer is a narrow tightrope, and when Imposter Syndrome is triggered by my professional life… it’ll start eating away at my confidence as a mom.
- Random Anxiety
While I am DEFINITELY someone who copes with anxiety, I usually only have the “I’m anxious about something and I don’t know why” feeling when it has to do with Imposter Syndrome. If I notice my anxiety starting to creep in and I can’t immediately identify the cause… It’s usually Imposter Syndrome. Again, this is just my personal experience, and so Imposter Syndrome might show up differently for you.
What I’m Learning
The idea of having a less flexible schedule, I realized, is the MAIN source of anxiety. My past experiences with “formal” work environments weren’t good, and the anxiety around being under someone’s thumb again is really sharp.
I was stuffed up tight with fear around failing, around losing my freedom (freedom= the productivity and self-management I’ve established)… and there was even a part of me wondering if I’m “giving up” on Freelancing. Which is literally not the case… considering I’m freelancing right now lol.
But I also realized that I was feeding into the oh-so-unadorable “hustle-culture” mindset. The toxic idea that if you’re devoting some of your time to a formal 9-5 that I’m “giving up” on my dreams.
But I just love writing copy.
I just love writing… and I’m so grateful if I’ll get to keep doing that no matter the capacity.
What’s most important is that I remember to outline MY needs and boundaries, just like I would with any other client. And if this new and exciting experience doesn’t work for me… then I promised myself I WILL NOT stay in it.
How I’m Coping With Imposter Syndrome
While you can read how I deal with Imposter Syndrome in my other posts, here are a few new methods I’m implementing to cope with this specific situation of dealing with Imposter Syndrome because I’m faced with a new opportunity (opening myself up to new avenues of failure).
- Remembering I Am NOT The Same Person I Was Before
I’m forcing myself to recognize how far I’ve come as an individual. I’m promising myself that I will take care of myself this time. I won’t force myself to fit into something that doesn’t feel right. It doesn’t mean I’m afraid of being comfortable while growing… but it means I WON’T inflict daily harm to myself just because I fear judgement.
- Remembering I’ve Been Juggling F/T Copywriting Work And Motherhood All This Time
As afraid as I am to “do the thing”, I’ve already been doing it. I won’t sell myself short on my ability to self-manage or prioritize. While there will be new challenges, I’m choosing to see them as opportunities.
- Setting Up A New Schedule
My favorite way of quelling anxiety is to find something I CAN control, and plan around it. So I’ll be sitting myself down and creating a new schedule that will ensure I can be as successful as possible. It might mean back to 5AM mornings, but I’ll be very mindful and self aware to avoid burnout.
- Recognizing I’m In This Situation BECAUSE Of My Skills
Imposter Syndrome is called Imposter Syndrome because it often feels like we’re frauds when someone enlists our skills. We’re afraid that we’re deceiving people- that we’ll be discovered as hacks and rejected.
But the simple fact is… we wouldn’t be in those positions to fail (or feel those feelings) if our skills weren’t already recognized by the person asking for our help/services.
So I’m choosing to recognize that I’m being recognized for my value, and that it’s already been demonstrated. While I will always do my best, I’m not being brought onto a team trying to prove anything. I’m me. I accept myself. I receive the excitement and pride that my abilities have brought me to where I am.
It’s okay to feel these feelings of doubt. They may feel overwhelming and frustrating, but take them as a sign of your passion. We wouldn’t be so nervous about “failing” if we didn’t care about what we were doing.
That’s a beautiful quality. It’s wonderful to care.
Take pride in it.
Just don’t confuse passion for self-depreciation. You WILL hinder yourself if you listen to the negative voices. You have to acknowledge them and where they’re coming from… but once you do that, it’s time to say “thanks but no thanks”, and send them on their way.
I recommend trying some meditation sessions for Anxiety, I’ve found a lot of great mental exercises that help me seperate myself from my thoughts. There’s a ton on Youtube.
Let me finish by saying that: whatever awesome opportunity triggers these feelings… you deserve it.
You’ve worked hard. You’re always worthy.
Never forget that XOXO