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Imposter Syndrome

On my flight from Maryland to California I was reading “Girl Wash Your Face”, somewhere in the last chapters the book got me thinking and I wanted to jot down some of those thoughts and share them with the universe. At that time, I put these words down on paper…

In 2018 I grew my Photography business exponentially, I took half the year (August-December) and focused on my business. I was also a student but any chance I had to use my college assignments to grow my business, I did.

When the University of Rochester New York contacted me for an image, they wanted me to create and capture for a large print project I was so excited, but then... My fear set in. I was afraid I wouldn't capture what they were looking for, I was afraid I'd mess up the sizing, I was afraid I might fail them.

When I got off the consultation call I felt amazing. The gal I was working with loved my style, my professionalism and the quality of work I showcase. I felt great.

The morning of the session I was feeling fantastic. I felt confident. I did the session, finalized the images and nervously hit "send". Fear hit again. I was so nervous I failed. You can ask my husband; I sat their worried.

My phone rang. I just stared at it. I told my husband, "I'll let her leave a voicemail, she probably is upset and that way I can brace for it". Philip told me to pick up the call. It was the gal from University of Rochester New York... I was SO nervous. She started with, "I called to let you know I love the photos! Thanks for getting those to me so quickly. ".

WHAT?! I was literally afraid to answer because of my irrational fears and here she is just wanting to tell me she loves them. Yeah, I'm crazy.

No matter how well I do, no matter how many people trust me I still get nervous when I face a new aspect of business. (Fast forward to today, Like this podcast for example).

Soon after, Enterprise Rent-a-car contacted me... Basically replay the above story but now with Enterprise.

When I landed in San Jose, California I got to chatting with my cousin, who is a successful businesswoman for a large company and she’s basically the best of the best for them. We were having light conversation and branched into being a woman in today’s society. Melita asked me if I was familiar with Imposter Syndrome. I wasn’t. We chatted about the voices in our heads that constantly tell us we aren’t good enough.

As the above words were something I had already been putting thought into I started a discussion in a Facebook group I lead about Imposter Syndrome. Funny enough, it’s not a new idea – it’s out there and a lot of women deal with it.

As I sat down to write this blog post a newsletter from some business/photographer I follow popped into my inbox, I opened it to put it in the trash (yeah, I’m really bad when it comes to actually reading the mass communicated newsletters I sign-up for) and the second sentence was “Imposter Syndrome.” I didn’t read the whole thing, but I did find it funny that in the course of a week when I started exploring these thoughts and labeling them, I get a recurring theme of “Imposter Syndrome”.

Understanding what it is. Imposter Syndrome is when you feel like everyone else knows what they are doing but you are a phony/fake. According to Susan Albers, PsyD ““You have this fear that the people around you are going to figure out that you don’t know what you’re talking about and expose you as a fraud.”

Yup. I’ve been there. More than once.

According to a study done, 7 in 10 adults experience Imposter Syndrome – so guess what? You aren’t alone! “Imposter Syndrome revolved around high-achieving women who had trouble attributing their own success to themselves. But when you fast forward to today, men, women and everybody experiences this phenomenon,” Dr. Albers says.

We all face it (or most of us do), so the question is how do we overcome it?

1. Focus on the facts.

You may experience imposter syndrome and that’s totally normal. Being ready to remind yourself of the facts, of what you’ve accomplished, your success and all the positive things you’ve done is important when the feelings start to set in.

2. Don’t compare yourself to others!

Comparing yourself to someone else’s achievements isn’t going to help anyone! They say the first step in overcoming something is acknowledging it – so the fact you know you are experiencing imposter syndrome is a good sign. If you truly were a fraud, you likely wouldn’t experience this feeling.

3. Be honest with yourself and others

Sharing your failures can also have great benefits. This helps keep things realistic, especially if you are doing it in your community of supporters. It will empower you, and help others feel more connected, in turn having them share their failures and reaffirming that none of us are perfect and all struggle with these things.

4. Let go of perfectionism.

Trying to be perfect all the time can really slow down your productivity. It also is a direct line to supporting imposter syndrome. The times that we experience imposter syndrome are often when we are comparing ourselves to some perfect outcome we saw somewhere. Maybe on the web, maybe from an experience… Holding yourself to some unrealistic view of being perfect all the time is hindering to any success. Let it go!

5. Be kind.

Everything takes time. You can’t be the best of the best on your first try, so don’t hold that expectation on yourself. Acknowledge that things take time and effort, and both count as points in the right direction. Like riding a bike, you will fall your first time, but it’s when you get back up and try again that really counts.

I try to surround myself with people who lift me up and remind me of my value and worth. My husband is the best example of this, I mentioned above he encouraged me to answer my phone when the client was calling. He reassured me, encouraged me and supported me by pushing me to pick up the ringing phone. That’s a small piece of how much he impacts my everyday business journey.

I also reminisce about how far I’ve come, reminding myself that 10 years ago, 7 years ago, 5 years ago, 2 years ago, and even last year I have made huge improvements to my business, my client communications, my style, my quality and so much more. I am a work in progress, and I am continually improving my business.

I hope that you can work towards overcoming the voices in your head that are less than encouraging, that you can see the value in your work, and you can continue to share it with others!

You have a light, let it shine!

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