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Channeling impostor syndrome to strive for more

March 2021

Silhouette of a woman and her shadow against the sunset

The silhouette of a pedestrian walking against the sunset and casting a long shadow on the sidewalk in Yorkville, Toronto.

Impostor syndrome is something many young professionals, including myself, deal with to different extents. Navigating through a competitive job market seemingly instills feelings of inadequacy and doubt to fulfill even the most entry-level of roles. When I switched out of medical visualization in 2020, it was at a time when many others from across different fields also considered UX to be their calling. This naturally elevates the competition, with those coming from a design background having an advantage over others - but I’ve learned this isn’t the case and I encourage others to unlearn this notion.

It’s likely that because design in general is judged rather subjectively, there is a relentless pursuit for perfection - your work could always be improved on. Comparing ourselves with others is inevitable but it’s how we respond that matters. On the positive side, appreciating the good work of others makes us aspire to do better for ourselves, professionally or personally. It has the potential to provide us with new opportunities, experiences, or hobbies. On the flip side, it can easily lead to thoughts like, “How will I ever be as good as them?”, “Why would someone hire me over others?”, or “Everyone around me seemingly has it all figured out.”. This becomes a source of dissatisfaction or unhappiness in our abilities, and can sometimes bleed into negatively impacting other facets of our lives.

The thing is, those negative thoughts are natural and nobody should be made to feel bad for thinking that way. It’s tiresome to force ourselves to react positively to less than ideal situations all the time. So it really is okay! For me, what helps alleviate feelings associated with impostor syndrome is finding a balance and knowing that I won't dwell on it for too long. I also trust in making small improvements consistently and doing my best under the circumstances. If you’re someone struggling with feelings of doubt, know that you have the strength to turn things around with time, ride the highs of your achievements (big or small), and that you’re deserving of all good things that come your way.

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