I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome ever since I decided to become a designer, which dates back to 2014.
My flavor of imposter syndrome looks something like this:
- Because I didn’t get a design degree, I’ll never be a “real” designer.
- I tell myself I’m ok at design, but not great. Other people are way better than me.
- Because I didn’t get a computer science degree, I’ll never be a great programmer.
But this week, as I was working on a Squarespace website redesign with a collaborator, I realized just how good I am at design.
I came to this realization after speaking with my collaborator, who wanted the client to select a Squarespace template as a starting point. From my perspective, this was an unnecessary decision for the client to make, since when I build a website using Squarespace, I don’t let the template dictate anything about the design. I usually select a template, delete everything within that template, and build the site from scratch based on the mockup (which I usually create using Adobe XD or Figma).
At this point in my design career, templates are restrictive.
This isn’t a humblebrag. This is me realizing, after almost 7 years, how much I’ve improved my craft as a designer. I’ve become skilled at color, typography, and composition. Not only that, but I’m also good at writing website copy, drawing out user flow diagrams, and justifying decisions with sound reason and logic.
It’s shocking that it took me 7 years to realize this, but hey, so it goes, right?
My collaborator isn’t wrong for wanting the client to select a template. That’s part of their process. They don’t consider themselves a designer, but rather a marketing expert. And for many clients, re-working a template will definitely accomplish all of their goals!
But I think that’s the difference: For the past 7 years, I’ve treated design as my craft instead of a skill listed on my resume. It isn’t something I can “throw in” as an extra add-on to a client project. Design is the cornerstone of my career and life—something I practice, explore, and improve a little bit each day.
Even if I didn’t get paid to design, I believe I would still do it. As a kid I remember being obsessed with organizing things, making my school projects picture-perfect, and putting together pamphlets and newspapers for my family. Design is part of who I am, and I feel lucky to have it.
I encourage you to start thinking of whatever you do as a craft, an art, and not something you do just for money.
If you’re a copywriter, don’t settle for writing ok copy, strive for something better. Write interesting copy. Push the boundaries a little. See how it feels.
If you’re a business coach, explore ways to improve your craft. Maybe it’s improving your processes and systems. Or investing in a program to improve your writing.
If you’re a social media marketing expert, push yourself to learn more about human psychology and distill your findings in a DIY research paper.
In the age of “anyone can be anything” especially when it comes to digital careers and online businesses, it’s more important than ever to have an opinion, make work that matters, and love something other than yourself.
If you’re struggling with imposter syndrome, this is my only advice: Treat what you do as your craft. Practice often. Solicit feedback. You will improve. And maybe one day you’ll realize just how good you are.
Whatever you do, do it well. Do it so well that when people see you do it, they will want to come back and see you do it again, and they will want to bring others and show them how well you do what you do. — Walt Disney
Things I consumed and recommend this week:
This episode of Invisibilia about a woman who can smell sickness in other people. Cancer, Alzheimers, Parkinsons, etc. Would you want to know if you were sick, perhaps 10 years before a formal diagnosis?
The Next Right Thing from the Frozen II soundtrack. A good follow-up to the Invisibilia episode.
This creepy research paper about brain activity during an exorcism. And the even creepier follow-up paper about what happened to the researchers and participants in the days leading up to and following the experiment.
Drawing in my Moleskine journal with a ballpoint pen. So simple and fun!
These poems 🥺