How can I fight against imposter syndrome? UX Question #36

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Rene from New York City asks: How can I fight against imposter syndrome?

I love that question. Thanks for asking, Rene. This is UX Question number 36 and I am Ben Judy.

How can I fight against imposter syndrome? If you’ve never heard of imposter syndrome, it simply means a lack of confidence in your abilities. You feel like you don’t know enough, you’re not good enough, and it’s only a matter of time before someone figures out that you’re just pretending to be a UX designer.

It’s not unusual for new UX designers at the beginning of their career to suffer from this kind of discouragement. And it’s understandable. As I shared in episode 12, it can take a few years to build even basic competency in UX skills.

But negative feelings of being a fraud or not belonging can hold you back from growing into the great UX designer you can become. Here are a few tips to help you fight against imposter syndrome.

First, remember that everyone starts somewhere. No one was ever born an expert in UX design. It’s a set of skills that are learned over time through practice and collaboration.

When you compare yourself to a designer with more experience than you, just say to yourself, if they can do it—then why can’t I? Give yourself permission to not know some things and to make mistakes, just like them.

Second, focus on your strengths. Instead of being discouraged by how much you don’t know or what you haven’t accomplished, focus on building on the skills you have developed. Celebrate each step on your journey and draw motivation from your growth so far.

Third, build your professional network. Surround yourself with friendly people who believe in you and your abilities. This could include a mentor, as I discussed in episode 11. It could include coworkers or fellow students you studied UX with. Staying in touch with those folks can help you feel like you belong in the UX tribe. Give and receive encouragement from those people.

Fourth, celebrate a mindset of continuous learning. As I record this, I’ve been a working designer for over 23 years. And yet, the more I learn, the more I realize just how much I don’t know. That will be true for you, too, and it’s not something that should discourage you. But you have to abandon the idea of ‘arriving’ at some finish line of UX proficiency. Get excited about being in a career where there’s always something new to learn.

Remember, imposter syndrome is a common feeling. But with time, practice, support, and a long-term perspective, you can overcome it and become a more confident and successful UX designer.

Keep asking your questions about UX. Next time, I’ll answer the question: How much should I charge for freelance projects?

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