What I do each time I feel like a fraud / imposter

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Imposter Syndrome by now. Personally, the Imposter Syndrome feels like a shadow, always following me and appearing behind me. Although I try very hard and I will work hard, often, I still wonder if I’m a fraud, as if certain skills were faked. I wonder whether someone will see right through me and expose me, or say that I’m actually not as good as I thought, or, horror of all horrors, push my rates to be of market rates (literally). To be honest, the truth is,

If you’re a professional, technically, you don’t have the right to not know what you’re doing. Obviously, you have to know! You’re getting paid for your work, you’re supposed to come up with the solution.

Here are some of the things I do to counter the effects of feeling like a fraud:

1. Research. Learn. Apply.

A few years ago, I was approached to be the creative brainchild for a destination hotel’s campaign overhaul. There were a few reasons behind why I was the choice for the Creative Lead: the agency that approached me was confident of my skills and professional integrity; I had background qualifications in both design and IT. In their eyes, I would be the perfect bridge between the creative aspect and their technical team.

The thing that was true at that time was: I knew NOTHING about that field at that time.

To prepare for the project, I worked extra hard. I went to read up and digest everything I could find on that field, so that I could craft the creative solutions accordingly. I consolidated all the knowledge. I applied the methods to the problems. In the end, I became the expert. The agency was grateful. The client was impressed. The results spoke for themselves. I had taken calculated risks and even over-compensated with my time (the project was severely under-scoped). I went from being an Imposter to becoming the actual industry-recognized Expert in the field of study.

Read about my articles here on that field — yes, email design!
6 email design tips before you hit Send
How to design purpose-driven emails
2 email methods you must avoid

2. Be honest about what I can & cannot do. Manage expectations upfront.

The 2nd method that resonates with me personally as a professional service-provider is, to be honest about my skills, upfront. I don’t promise the sun and the sky to clients. For example, although I do web projects, I don’t proclaim myself to be a web developer. In addition, I will ask clients, before signing the contract, if they’re aware of how I do websites. Most of the time, their answers will be, “I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care.” Clients don’t care about your methods — they only care that you deliver the promised outcome. But I’m adamant that they know. I declare ahead, as with what you can see on my Design Services page, that what I do is WordPress theme customization, not code a site from scratch.

Read my posts on why you need a website and why WordPress should be a definite choice!
What happens when a business chain has no website
10 reasons you should switch to WordPress Today

3. Reject work.

I do myself and prospects a favour by rejecting work that I’m totally not confident of delivering. This is the only way to be fair to everyone. I don’t lie to myself and others that I can achieve everything, and then die in the process of trying to deliver. It’s really not worth it. You’ll be better choosing the fields that you want to excel and invest the time in.

Do you get the Imposter Syndrome too? 
What do you do to overcome it? Share with me!

Header image is by Abigail Keenan, via Unsplash. Quote image is created by me.

This post is originated posted on my website’s blog.


Kristine Li is a Professional Designer that secretly hopes to earn more trips & experiences through travelling, curating & writing.

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