The self-fulling prophecy of imposter syndrome
*This post was originally published on November 18, 2020.
While I've shared my blog posts on Medium and Twitter, my presence on those platforms isn't generally known to my close friends and professional connections. Therefore, posting to those platforms seemed in some ways easier and less anxiety-inducing.
However, this week I decided to share a blog post on Linkedin, which would be readily available to my colleagues and people I know working in design with whom I've connected. I had some fears about sharing my thoughts and design process with them. This seems so counterintuitive, right? These are the people who are more likely to provide me with great personalized feedback to help me grow.
It appeared like I was afraid of looking like an imposter to the people I knew working in design. In fact, I was more consumed with my own fear about myself, that I might not actually be "good enough" to design. I was looking for the evidence that I'm not good enough instead of looking for the evidence that I am good enough to design.
The evidence of my ability to be a good designer is my ability:
to work with others regardless of their background to accomplish goals,
my experience in planning trainings, engagement events, andd workshops for people from 5 to 250,
my experience using design tools from Illustrator to Dreamweaver for numerous marketing and engagement projects,
my experience in managing others and the projects they're assigned to,
my experience in taking critical feedback for a project and evaluating if it could be helpful to the overall objective,
my experience creating solutions to address local and national problems with CAD software, Illustrator, laser-cutting, Arduino, Figma, Mural and Miro;
my experience presenting my problem solving process
These thoughts make me feel more calm and more willing to present my work to my network, including people who could really benefit from me sharing my process and struggles and breakthroughs. And that's the issue with imposter syndrome.
By not sharing your work, you fail to reach the very people who would benefit from your work! By thinking you're ineffectual, you often prove yourself right.
Instead of focusing on how your work could be helpful to others, you wind up obsessing about feeling like an imposter. And what is the outcome of thinking you're not good enough and a fraud? You feel ashamed or anxious. You tend to hide and not show your work unless absolutely necessary. By not sharing your work, you fail to reach the very people who would benefit from your work! By thinking you're ineffectual you often prove yourself right.
So I'll continue looking for evidence of how I am a "good enough" or even a great designer and keep showing up in service to others. I hope my blog can provide a different perspective or new information for someone I've never met even met. For these reasons, I'll keep sharing.
I'm Sarah Coloma, an Interaction and Graphic Designer, based in Arlington, VA. I write once a week on Sundays and every so often I write a bonus post on Wednesdays. You can find me elsewhere on Twitter @iamsarahcoloma, on Medium, and on Linkedin.