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ASK US WEDNESDAY: “How do I overcome imposter syndrome?”

by Leo Wiles
04 April 2018

I’ve freelanced for nearly a year now and am constantly second-guessing my decisions and feeling like I’m going to be ‘found out’ – even though I know logically I have the abilities to do what I’m doing. I just can’t shake the anxiety that I’m not good enough or as good as the many people I know also freelancing. Help. C

Back in the 90s, following a soul crushing divorce, I relocated from London to Sydney, a city I’d never lived or worked in, to start over.

Sitting at the feature’s desk as a contractor in the buzzing Woman’ Day office I was suddenly filled with fear that I was a fraud who wasn’t up to the job. It was only sheer will power that stopped me picking up my handbag and leaving at lunchtime to never look back.

Thankfully by the end of the day, three pieces filed my sense of being a fraud amongst my seasoned colleagues dissipated.  However, I have never forgotten the destabilizing sensation of Imposter Syndrome, [IS].

First named in 1978, it turns out that imposter syndrome has been deemed by psychologists as a specific form of intellectual self-doubt that perfectionists and those of us facing new challenges outside our comfort zone can be prone to. So while I can still feel those paralysing thoughts creep in, I have learnt to stop them in their tracks and here’s how you can too.

Acknowledge the uncomfortable feelings, examine what’s the worst thing that could happen – in my case it’s not starting a piece because I think it won’t be good enough or I feel overwhelmed with thoughts of inadequacy.  After a cup of tea I will sit down for an hour of power and make myself begin writing, a task that in itself is so soothing it lets me hit my flow and moves me past the speed bump of insecurity.

Look back at past wins.  Perhaps you’ve scooped an award or glowing testimonials from clients who have been thrilled with your work. Remind yourself that your car, appliances, possibly even your house have all been bought with money you earned utilising your writing skills. Pick up the phone and talk it out with a freelance buddy who has probably been there too.

If it’s happening regularly, you may think about hiring a business coach or checking in with a psychologist to see if there are some underlining issues that are bubbling up to the surface and need to be dealt with. And, of course, there’s this quiz that’ll help you figure out if you suffer from Imposter Syndrome in the first place!

Have you suffered from Imposter Syndrome? We’d love to hear how you overcome it.

Leo Wiles

Leo Wiles has worked as an editor, journalist and PR for over 20 years before recently retraining as a photographer. These days, she spends her time behind a lens, juggling her own clients with her work at Rachel's List, and her three gorgeous but lively kids.

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