I remember the first time I heard the term “Imposter Syndrome”. I was listening to a podcast while trying to decide what to draw when suddenly the term just dropped in my lap. I was in shock that I had never heard the term before. It so perfectly encapsulated what I go through everyday from creating new work to posting on social media and even my own blog! I’m sure everyone goes through good and bad seasons when it comes to I.S. but for me it seemed to only get worse the longer I was in business. I don’t know if this is something you deal with on a regular basis but I thought I could share my story and maybe help someone who’s going through the same things I am… so here I go.
If you had asked me when I first started this business if five years down the rode, “would I still be struggling with inadequacy and confidence issues” I would have looked at you like you where crazy. I figured that as my business grew my confidence would follow suit. And while yes there are somethings that just became easier and more natural as we moved along, for the most part I still had this gnawing feeling that any minute I was going to be figured out.
What exactly they would be figuring out, I don’t know? But that thought haunted me constantly. I could write a never ending list of the reasons I didn’t feel legitimate… I live in a small town in the south, not some major metropolis like New York or cool hipster city in California. I didn’t start out designing wedding invitations before jumping into stationery like most businesses. Yes, I do design and illustrate all my own products, but I don’t print them myself. The list could go on and on.
The one thing that always helped me feel a bit more secure was that I had a studio/office space outside of my house. Being able to get up every morning and go to the studio made me fell proud, important and dare I say legit. I had this emotional safety net to fall back on whenever I started to feel overwhelmed or like an imposter. I’m sure it sounds silly but it was my emotional comfort zone. Until it wasn’t. After being there for 3 years we had to make a change. We had outgrown the space and it didn’t make sense to keep paying for a studio that was way to small for our business. Now, you would think that outgrowing a studio space would make me feel big time but it didn’t. The issue was that we couldn’t really afford to shell out more money for a bigger space. We were at an impasse. So we did what we had to… We moved EVERYTHING into my house. I was officially a Home Run Business. We dedicated 2 bedrooms and most of our finished basement to the business. Not to mention the occasional spillage into the living room and kitchen table when trying to get out large orders. I actually feel like I live in my business instead of my business residing in my home.
This was a huge adjustment for me. besides the fact that I had nowhere “to go” everyday, I really felt like an imposter now. All I wanted was for people to take me and my brand seriously. To see the blood, sweat and tears we put into our company everyday, even weekends. For the longest time I didn’t even want to share how I felt because I didn’t want it to skew other peoples view of myself and my business.
What’s even more ridiculous is that I don’t think any less of businesses that run out of homes. I don’t ever equate someones success to their workplace or business setup. It wasn’t even until recently that I started to feel differently about my situation. I was waiting for a spin class to begin (the only thing that gets me out of the house on a daily basis) when the instructor started asking me about what I do for living. I gave the whole spiel and when I finished he asked me two questions… He asked if I have kids and If I got to work from home. I answered “no, no kids yet”, and sheepishly muttered yes to working at home. And do you know what his response was? “Oh man, now that’s the life!” I was shocked that someone would find that as the most appealing part of my business. He told me anyone who gets the opportunity to work from home is sooooo lucky. And that’s kinda when it dawned on me… Yeah, I am lucky!
I get to work from the comfort of my home, in comfy clothes with my dog by my side everyday. I can spend a little extra time preparing my lunch and take breaks whenever I want. Plus if things are hectic and I need to work late or at an off time it’s no big deal cause I’m home. Yes, there are pros and cons to working from home but that is not the point of this post. It took me seeing my business and life through someone else’s eyes to feel like I wasn’t an imposter. We all struggle with feeling like everyone is better, faster, more clever and all around just more awesome than we are but there is something very important you need to remember when the imposter syndrome starts to creep up… Someone else is out there looking at your business, your skills and your general awesomeness and wishing they could be you. They see you and your business as legit while suffer from the same insecurities you do, like imposter syndrome.
So I want you to remember that you are good enough, strong enough and legit enough for whatever it is you are doing right now, today, in this very moment. And don’t allow anyone to make you feel otherwise, not even yourself!