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Imposter Syndrome vs. Self-Awareness

Imposter syndrome is the belief that you will eventually be “found out” and that everyone else has some secret knowledge or ability that you don’t. It’s a sense that you don’t really belong in the room. This feeling is common with creative pros, often because of the uncertainty of our work. Common advice when dealing with imposter syndrome sound like “just do it!” or “don’t believe it – you can do whatever you decide to do!” 

I think that advice is often short-sided. Here’s why:

There is a difference between imposter syndrome and self-awareness. Self-awareness is the recognition that your skill level may not be sufficient for the task at hand. For example, while I have some experience leading designers, I would never take on a project that requires me to design a campaign for a major brand. That’s not imposter syndrome, it’s wisdom. 

However, fear often comes disguised as wisdom also, and it can show up in the form of imposter syndrome.

This is when you perpetually feel like a fraud, or you become paralyzed when you are called upon to perform a task. You may even turn down opportunities you are perfectly well suited for because you fear that you will be “found out”. 

We must learn to distinguish between good, genuine self-awareness and imposter syndrome. This happens best in community, where people can speak truth to you about who you are and what you’re truly capable of. 

Who has permission to speak truth to you?

LEARN MORE about Todd Henry, a Momentum 2023 main stage speaker.