How to Combat Insecurity as a Self Taught Designer

Being a self taught anything can be hard sometimes. Fighting feelings of insecurity and impostor syndrome are not fun. Here are 10 ways to fight those feelings and win. 

I don't know about you but I have found myself many a time in a place of self doubt and insecurity as a self taught freelancer and business owner. It is very easy to begin to believe the lies that "you are not good enough", or "you don't know what in the world you are talking about". Whenever I begin listening to these lies I am paralyzed, game over. My business is at a complete stand still, I find myself unsure of how to go forward, I am totally stuck in my insecurity feeling like a big fat poser. 

For most creatives this poser or impostor mentality is at an all time high when one or more of the following things has happened...

  • A client is unhappy with a product or design.
  • They begin to compare themselves to other designers who are making what seems like millions more $$$ while doing about the same amount of work. 
  • They find themselves wanting to be a "true designer" but feel like they don't have it together enough to use that title.
  • They fixate on the fact that they do not have a degree or formal training/experience in any sort of design. 

Can anyone out there relate? I am pretty sure most creatives run into this feeling at least once or twice. Nonetheless it is not a fun place to find yourself, it is just discouraging and it halts all productivity for your business which is never a good thing. 

So what do you do when you find yourself in this dark place? 

  1. Pull Away from the Noise.

    Turn off the phone, step away from the computer, mute your social media. Just step away. Sometimes the biggest triggers for my self doubt come from pouring over a million "how to" posts. While they are often helpful, sometimes they leave me second guessing myself and my abilities. So if you are feeling unsure of yourself, turn off all the noise and just breath. 
  2. Take Some Time Just for You.

    Taking breaks is a huge part of being successful in a creative business. I have learned this the hard way. The harder I push myself the faster I end up either burned out or in this place of creative paralysis. Set aside intentional time to take care of yourself and enjoy some much needed alone time, this can be as simple as afternoon tea or coffee, or a walk around the block.
  3. Stop the Comparison Game.

    We all want to be successful, and it is all too easy in this digital age to look at others who are making money, have thousands of followers, and seem to have it all together and beat yourself up. Comparison truly is the thief of joy, and I would also say it is the thief of productivity, creativity, and unique content. Get out of the heads of others, and get inside your own head. 
  4. Give Yourself a Pep Talk.

    Nothing cheers me up like a good old fashioned pep talk. You are beautiful. You are talented. You are good at what you do, and others think so too. Also, it never hurts to throw on some lipstick, and a little Beyonce and dance it out while affirming yourself. 
  5. Look Back at How Far You Have Come.

    When I look back at the very first things I ever designed in Photoshop I literally cringe. There is nothing more encouraging to me creatively than to look back to where I started and to see how far I have come. Hindsight is always 20/20 and it is amazing how confident you will feel after reviewing your progress.
  6. Read Client Testimonials.

    Encouraging words are my love language. Seriously, just write me a kind note and I will love you forever. I save every note I ever receive in shoe boxes, and love to go back and look over them when I feel down. Same goes for my design life. I keep all my kind emails from clients, testimonials, and uplifting conversations and go back over them when I begin to question my abilities. Works every time!
  7. Accept that Mistakes are Part of Life.

    It is so easy as women to internalize all of our mistakes and take them on ourselves. In business of any kind you will make mistakes...heck just in life in general we are going to make mistakes. Accepting this makes it easier to deal with. Don't question everything about your business or creative decisions if a client points out a mistake or criticizes your methods. Embrace the mistakes as part of your growing process, and learn to have tough skin rather than being hyper sensitive.  
  8. Remember that We are all still Learners.

    No matter what it may seem like from the outside looking in no one has it all together. No matter what their Instagram looks like or how polished their website is, we are all still learners. You will be learning for the rest of your life, just like everyone else. So take your eyes off those you have placed on pedestals, and remember we are all just on a journey to be the best we can be. 
  9. Seek Out Encouragement from Others. 

    When you find yourself feeling insecure and questioning everything about your business, stop and call a friend. I love talking to my husband about this because he stops and reminds me of truth and points out the lies I am believing. Having a fresh set of ears to listen to you talk all your thoughts out helps so much to bring you back down to earth and calm you down.
  10. Embrace Who You Are.

    More importantly than anything else, really grab onto who you are. For me, I am a self taught designer that has no degree in anything to do with design. But I love learning, and have come a long way when it comes to freelancing. I am a people pleaser that has to actively strive to guard myself from being overly sensitive. I struggle to not compare my success to the success of others. By embracing these truths about myself I am able to really own them, learn from them, and grow in these areas. 

If you still feel like a poser take a minute...pick two, just two things from this list and go do them and see how you feel after. Also, drop me a line in the comments below, I would love to be your cheerleader from one self doubter to another. 

Do you struggle with feelings of insecurity or inadequacy in your field?