At one point or another we all catch the imposter syndrome. Last month, I attended a design conference hosted by Princeton University, Designation, and one of my favorite speakers was Heather Luipold, the Creative Lead at Google Creative Labs. In her keynote, she talked about the Dunning-Kruger Effect and addressed the imposter syndrome. We all go through a phase of feeling confident in our skills and then become insecure once we see another person's work.
Imposter syndrome has a negative connotation around it, but to me, it's a positive thing. It gives us a reality check and makes us aware that there's more to learn. Instead of letting your insecurities set you back, here are some things to keep in mind when you're slipping into the imposter syndrome trap.
Surround yourself with smart people -No matter how senior you are, there is always more to learn. Talk to a diverse set of people and understand different perspectives. By surrounding yourself with smart people, you will not only grow in knowledge, but also push yourself to be like those around you. I completely agree that you're a culmination of the people you surround yourself with, so choose to be with people who inspire you.
Analyze great work - Understand your weaknesses and reflect on what you want to improve on. Then, find work that inspires you and understand what makes it better. You can learn a lot from looking at other people's work; use that as a benchmark for where you hope to be one day.
You can't do everything yourself - Imposter syndrome stems from thinking that we need to be "perfect", but in reality, no one's perfect and you also don't want to spread yourself too thin. Ask for help when you need it, learn for others, and stick to your specialization. Instead of trying to be amazing at a million different things, pick a few that you're passionate about and get really good at it.
Never get too comfortable - I've experienced being "too comfortable" in both school and work. It's seems nice since I get into a routine of things, but I find myself getting bored and I stop progressing. It's important to push your boundaries and continue to create more than you're comfortable with. Always ask yourself "How can I make this better?" or "What would I do differently if I had the chance to do this again?"
Imposter syndrome is something everyone goes through at one point in their career. For me, it has happened multiple times and continues to happen as I meet more people in industry. Use the imposter syndrome as an opportunity to be self-aware and to push yourself to continue growing.
Fun read for my designer folks: Junior Designers vs. Senior Designers