Imposter syndrome, humility and hope

I’ve just had my first week in a new role at work – Marketing and Sponsorship Officer. I’ll be acting in this role until February while the incumbent is away on maternity leave.

There are lots of things about this role I know I can do. I can make the following statements with confidence.

  • I can manage my time at work
  • I am good at finishing tasks and multi-tasking
  • I can write clearly, effectively and with purpose
  • I am a good communicator

But on Monday morning when I started the two week handover there was one big part of the job that I knew I had no experience with – using Photoshop for graphic design. I was not a graphic designer and never have been.

So when one of the first things I had to do was create a print ad for a local publication I immediately lost all confidence in my capacity to do any part of this job. In short I felt like a total imposter. It didn’t help that the person currently in the role is all graphic design background. Ctrl Z, Ctrl Shift and Click and what – keyboard shortcuts??? I am a menus girl having been well schooled in MS Office and basically all self taught. How would I remember all these instructions. What the hell is “stroke”, “flattening”, an AI file? HUH. I went home at the end of the first day with two choices. Cry. Or pick myself up and tell myself that I a smart person who met lots of new software challenges before with moderate success. Photoshop (and Indesign) were not going to beat me.

And so I reached the end of the week, still feeling imposterish, but having managed to create a FB cover image, an email signature banner image and other bits and pieces. I needed to ask for help frequently. So I did. And I started to feel like I might be getting head around the basics. And here’s the thing about imposter syndrome. If we embrace it, it actually can be quite motivating. I’m not going to let this thing my mind is telling me I’m hopeless at beat me. I say thank you to imposter syndrome for alerting me to the fact that there are still lots of great skills for me to acquire. I say thanks for the opportunity to learn them. If we use our imposter syndrome to motivate us rather than cripple us into defeat, we can learn to love it. Because I think this connects to the idea of humility. I’ve got a lot of time for humility as a quality in people I like and respect. When people are humble, and don’t spend their all their time shouting their achievements from the rooftops I see a kindred spirit. Sure, we all do the humblebrag from time to time and why not. If we do something we’re proud we should let people know. But let’s not be disingenuous about it. So hidden within feeling like an imposter is a reminder to us that we are not perfect, we don’t know everything about everything and neither should we. Because otherwise what is there to strive for in life? How do continue to live our lives honestly, with integrity and purpose? Perhaps we should worry about those people who profess never to feel like imposters. Maybe they’re heading for a fall because their self-awareness of where they are in their life’s journey is low to non-existent. Recognising imposter syndrome in ourselves is really being self-aware about where we are. And with self-awareness comes the potential for growth. Who wants to stagnate? Not me. I’ve done there and it’s not good for physical or mental wellbeing.

So I think I might embrace my imposter syndrome. Whenever I feel like an imposter I know I’m out of my comfort zone and therein lies an exciting opportunity to learn something new, to experience a new opportunity, to level up…and to level up again.

So I finish this post by saying, “I’m a graphic designer in process”.


Thanks imposter syndrome for keeping me humble and self-aware.




2 Responses to “Imposter syndrome, humility and hope”

  1. Kate says:

    This is a really nice reframing. I like it. Humble is good.

    It’s just a matter of spinning it into a learning need, and it’s really good you can recognise that need an act on it. You are infinitely capable and you can totally do this stuff.

    Just make sure you only embrace the impostor when you actually *do* need to get a new skill or you don’t know what you’re doing. Don’t let him creep in when you’re all over what you’re doing but not capable of seeing it.


  2. […] Thanks Kate for kicking it all off with your post about professional discourse and blogging. […]

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