According to the evidence, almost 70% of the workforce is said to have either experienced these feelings or to be likely to throughout their life. Add to that the impressive claims made by some of the world’s most influential personalities, a Google Trends curve that shows how increasingly the searches for the term grew globally since 2015, and the major exploitation of the term on social media online. No wonder, then, that even for the most oblivious minds the words “Impostor Syndrome” ring a bell.
In a place that encourages self-expression and endorses authenticity, at least on its gleaming surface, there is a certain paradoxical quality about feeling like a fraud or an impostor.
But what is most interesting and distinctive of IS, though only highlighted in recent research, are the peculiar intersections from which it stems: if one looks at the roles played by character traits, childhood experiences, background, and environmental factors, he would not be surprised to discover how intertwined these are with feelings of impostorism. For one, Impostor Syndrome has been found to be strictly linked with perfectionism, neuroticism, self-efficacy, and as an article that appeared in Psychology Today explains, even anxiety and depression. Many claim to experience it either at their workplace or when committing to work-related tasks. But how does that change, if it does, for creatives in the fashion industry?
Minorities and underprivileged groups struggle to fit in and to feel deserving of their accomplishment, not merely because of individual factors.
In a place that encourages self-expression and endorses authenticity, at least on its gleaming surface, there is a certain paradoxical quality about feeling like a fraud or an impostor. Yet this is real for the many people who frequently deal with these emotions: in an Instagram poll conducted for the purpose of this article and to further explore how IS shows up among creatives, nearly 88% of the 496 people who answered said that their imposturous feelings were linked with their creative work. And when asked to articulate what triggered these in them, the answers were wide-ranging: a perception of other people’s work being better than theirs, getting positive feedback on assignments although having no faith in their own abilities, job applications where it is necessary to list one’s accomplishments and then when being trusted by others for a task. Lastly, being confronted with other creatives in university more than anything else.
The lack of role models and people with similar life paths, the constant questioning of one’s abilities due to their background and appearance plus socioeconomic factors, all have a great impact on the experiences in the workplace.
What is that makes creatives so prone to feeling like a fraud? Perhaps the industry’s competitiveness, hypercriticism, and high demands; most surely the exclusivity of the environment. Indeed, among the poll respondents, a few of them pointed out that coming from a less privileged background made them feel non-belonging and put into question their place in fashion. Similarly to what was described in “Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome”, an article that originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review, minorities and underprivileged groups struggle to fit in and to feel deserving of their accomplishment, not merely because of individual factors. The lack of role models and people with similar life paths, the constant questioning of one’s abilities due to their background and appearance plus socioeconomic factors, not to mention cultural stereotypes at large, all have a great impact on the experiences in the workplace. If we fail to address the societal aspect that Impostor Syndrome comes with, we are once again putting on individuals the burdens of a collective problem.
To talk about solutions is to comprehend the extent to which IS can be dealt with on one’s own and how much external causes come into play in one’s personal experience. On this matter, recent findings that date back to the beginning of the year have proposed new and effective ways to address the problem. Sebastian Salicru, author, psychologist, and psychotherapist argues that when dealing with Impostor Syndrome, a therapeutical approach combining the Immunity to Change learning process and Schema Therapy could succeed in tackling imposturous feelings. Yet although this effective take suggests more thoughtful and useful actions, it is also true that for many people therapy can be an unaffordable and inaccessible resource. For this reason, while only benefitting in the short-term, a few suggestions might help to startnavigating these arduous feelings and help lighten the weight of Impostor Syndrome:
♡ Critically analyze the thoughts that suggest you are an impostor instead of immediately engaging with them: aka, as one poll respondent put it: “Feelings are not facts.”
♡ Sharing your feelings with someone who might have had the same experience as you: finding a mentor or a close friend that can relate to your emotions might help validate them and make you realize that the ones you least expected share the same burden as you.
♡ Stop comparing yourself to others: (easier said than done) but maybe try to remind yourself of your uniqueness, of the qualities that make up the peculiar being that you are, and try to find your strength in this.
♡ Acknowledge your job title and call yourself what you are (e.g.: an artist, a designer, a photographer, etc.): you are IT, not just a wannabe. It is time to recognize the effort you put into your work.
♡ Proudly share your work with your audiences, whether in real life or online: everybody deserves to share their achievements and there is beauty in valuing your work so much that you feel proud to display it for someone else to see it.
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