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Let’s talk about imposter syndrome in design…

… and why it’s really not worth your time.

Confident people fist bump before meetings.

Recently there’s been a lot written about imposter syndrome — the false feeling of insecurity many professionals feel when doubting their abilities compared against those of their colleagues.

As you might have noticed, it’s been a big topic on some design blogs. In the creative industries, our work is often judged subjectively. That can make it especially tempting to compare ourselves to those around us.

A healthy dose of competitive spirit can be really fantastic for creatives — but things become murky when that sense of competition is replaced with feelings of inadequacy.

When a designer feels like an imposter at work, it’s tough for a lot of reasons.

  • It can reflect in how they carry themselves.
  • It slows down the creative process because it’s a huge distraction.
  • It reduces productivity and increases anxiety.

Designer Pablo Stanley offers a nice breakdown of imposter syndrome. He compares being a designer to riding a bicycle. While riding your bike, you don’t stop abruptly to question whether you’re a real bike rider. You’re riding the bike, therefore you are a bike rider. You’re designing something, therefore you are a designer.

Whether you’re the best bicyclist on your block is a totally different question. Like every other designer, you have room to grow — but that doesn’t disqualify you. Everyone has room to grow. Just keep working!

If you got the job, it’s time to stop worrying about getting the job. The next time you feel out of place, remember that there’s no point in re-reconsidering whether you’re qualified to be there. The truth is that everyone is still learning, and the most important qualification is a designer’s work ethic — not their talent or years of experience.

It’s time to stop worrying — you’ve got this. Now get to work! And congrats on your current and future successes.

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