A little while ago I wrote a post about Imposter Syndrome. I said back then ‘I don’t know a single freelancer who hasn’t been hit with it at some point’.
That was two years ago. If anything, I’ve seen more freelancers lately sharing that they feel inadequate, a phoney, a fraud or they just have no confidence in their abilities.
What is it that makes competent, trained freelancers turn into individuals full of self-doubt?
What is it that makes intelligent men and women look at other people in the same situation then think that the other people are better than they are?
To be honest it really pisses me off!
I’m a freelance copy-editor and copywriter living in Caithness, a remote part of Scotland. Most of my training and my work has been done remotely. Since I wrote that last article I’ve gained Advanced Professional Membership of the SfEP. This is the highest grade of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders. You can only reach this ‘deliberately tough’ level if you’ve proven to be well trained and highly experienced. Yet, I still get the Imposter Monster sitting on my shoulder at times. Boy, is he heavy.
I’ve worked on some brilliant books and written some excellent copy. Yet I still occasionally think no one is ever going to hire me again.
I’ve written relatively few articles on this website since the New Year. Can you guess why? I ran out of things to say that I thought might be useful or worth reading. Seriously. I thought no one would care.
And I’m not alone.
A quick search on Twitter shows SO many people struggling with the feeling of being inadequate.
Look, if Neil Gaiman and Neil Armstrong have suffered with Imposter Syndrome, then what hope do the rest of us have?
My original five steps towards killing the monster still hold true. But first you have to realise when you’re feeling inadequate for no reason, and when (dare I say it) you really do need to take stock.
If you find your inner dialogue telling you the following:
ask yourself: can I prove that I AM an imposter?
Did you honestly put in no work, training or have no knowledge? Prove it.
Have you done the work to the best of your ability? Have you trained in your chosen sector? Are your clients happy?
Have you done enough to be competent at your craft? Have you trained and gained experience? Is there really something else you need to do right now? Prove it.
Your clients are relying upon your expertise. DO you know what you are doing? Have you trained, can you give reasons for what you do? Are your clients happy with your work? Do you really need to take stock and do more training? Look at your training and what you’ve done. Prove it.
That’s what you’re aiming for – success. Why should you be frightened or guilty for success? Enjoy your success, you earned it!
Why do you feel like this? Have you never done this successfully before? If you’ve failed before what did you do differently this time? Will you do it again? It was only a one-time thing if you don’t do it again.
What training have you completed so far? Is there more you need to do? Why? Do you need to do it or are you just addicted to training? Are you competent at what you do now? Why do you think you need more training? Are you keeping up with your CPD?
Are you charging more than the market will stand? Do you not have enough experience to charge a higher price? Remember that more experience and training commands a higher fee – are you charging similar to other freelancers in your position with your background? If you think you should be charging less – prove it.
What is the worst that can happen if you fight the fear? If you’re not worthy, prove it.
By now, hopefully, you’ve realised that you’re not an imposter.
You may have also highlighted areas where more training would be beneficial. This can be a positive step – take that training.
With your head held high, use these five steps to move away from Imposter Syndrome and kill that monster. It’s all about emotional intelligence, understanding what’s happening and taking positive steps to take back control.
Realise that this monster will attack you when you’re vulnerable.
If you feel the first niggle, take stock, understand the situation and realise that the monster is trying to feed. This may be enough to kill the monster dead – accept what it is and let it go.
If the monster does take hold understand this:
To keep the monster at bay, realise your self-worth. It is not a dirty word.
Kill the monster. By believing in yourself, and understanding the nature of the beast, you may eventually kill it. If you do you are one of the lucky ones.
Imposter Syndrome is a real problem. It can be debilitating. It sucks the life out of you, stops you moving forward and eventually, if you give in to it, can destroy you and your business.
Don’t let it win. You can do this!