Have you ever experienced a moment in business where you felt like you should be excited but, in actuality, were terrified? Maybe it was after you signed your biggest contract to date. Maybe it was after committing to something you’ve never done before. Maybe it was after you received recognition for a job excellently done. Regardless of the moment, feeling self-doubt during amazing moments is a common phenomenon. And, whether you have experienced it yourself or know someone who has, today we wanted to talk about exactly what this feeling is–imposter syndrome.

From what it is and how to deal with it to real stories from wedding pros who have overcome it, there is one key takeaway from it all—keep doing what you’re doing because you’re damn good at it.

 

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is “the idea you’ve only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or qualifications.”*  And, while anyone can experience it, there are patterns amongst people who do:**

  • They are perfectionists who set a very high bar for themselves and feel like failures even when they achieve them. Even small mistakes make them question themselves and their own competency
  • They are experts and need to “know or be everything” before speaking up or applying for a position 
  • They are people who work on their own (and prefer to) because asking for help makes them feel like a fraud
  • They are high achievers who push to work harder than everyone around them in order to “prove” they are not imposters

 

How to deal with imposter syndrome

When you find yourself feeling like a fraud or that you don’t deserve to work with that client or get the recognition you’ve received, you have to nip those feelings in the bud—which, we know, can be easier said than done. So, to help you deal with any bouts of imposter syndrome you might find yourself in, here are tips to quiet those negative thoughts and increase your confidence: 

  • Observe and acknowledge the thoughts you are having and ask yourself if they are helping or hindering you. If it is the latter, take a moment to think about the “why”
  • Reframe your thoughts about the situation or experience. Did you receive plain criticism or constructive feedback? Will not asking for help make completing the project easier or harder? Is this an opportunity for you to learn and grow?
  • Talk about your feelings with a friend, a therapist or confidant. An outside perspective can help you learn to see when you are unnecessarily doubting yourself (it’s usually an opportunity for a nice confidence boost, too)

 

Real stories: How to overcome imposter syndrome

 

Kaleigh Weise from Meldeen

For many years, imposter syndrome was something that loomed like a dark cloud over my business. I started my career young and always questioned if people thought I was old enough, experienced enough or even unique enough to hire. That self-doubt resulted in me discounting my services, not creating boundaries with my time as a professional business would, and even short-changing what I was capable of delivering. 

An early mentor of mine saw some of my symptoms, looked me in the eyes and said, “whenever you feel this way, realize no one on earth will ever replace you.” As I have matured and pushed through the feelings of not being capable (a lie to myself!), I found the truth in having imposter syndrome is actually a desire to achieve perfection. We will never obtain perfection, but we will learn by taking chances and learning through our experiences. There is only one of you, and when you can see yourself as something unique, you will push ahead with confidence, understand your worth, and find comfort in the fact you might not be perfect—but you are learning and growing every day in your business. Just repeat after me. No one will ever replace me!


Meghan Ely from OFD Consulting

I remember early on in my entrepreneurial life, I came upon this fabulous event hosted by a colleague in my industry. I thought to myself, “Why wasn’t I doing something like that?” Worse, I questioned my own strategies and started to give myself a hard time for not doing something similar. Then, a light bulb eventually went off, and I had the realization that my successes would look different than other people’s ideas of success. It was important to create my own milestones for success and be unapologetic about the methods I went about to get there—especially if they were working. The fact of the matter was that that type of event wasn’t even really “me,” and I’m so glad I didn’t let the self-doubt creep in for long. Since then, I’ve hosted a slew of fun events: from Drag Bingo in Palm Springs to hilarious virtual escape rooms for our clients mid-pandemic. 

 

Lisa Gatewood-McMillan from Exquisite Events

As a wedding planner, I truly enjoy the responsibilities which require me to guide a couple through the wedding planning process. Over the years, my events have covered a myriad of religions, geographical locations, and rituals. But no matter how much experience and how many connections you have, there’s always that inquiry from a client requesting a service which doesn’t fit perfectly within your purview—and makes you doubt yourself.

Over the course of my career, I found myself sliding in a pool of self-doubt and reluctance after enthusiastically signing on a client. I would ask myself, “How in the world am I going to pull this off?” Those overwhelming emotions of uncertainty caused many a sleepless night. Yet, I have learned over time to simply step back, evaluate the request more closely, and conduct the research I need to complete the job.

I’ve never been steered in the wrong direction by seeking support from colleagues who have dealt with the same situation. Always (and without fail), the ultimate solution to the challenge is remembering that I have accomplished enormous success in my career—believing in my abilities, trusting my instincts, and surrounding myself with a network of knowledgeable professionals is the ultimate remedy for imposter syndrome

 

Since we’re on the topic of mental health, there are 2 articles you should read next. The first is all about work life balance and self care, and the second is about avoiding burnout. Give them a read, establish your boundaries and make a plan to take care of yourself this wedding season.

 

 *Time Magazine https://time.com/5312483/how-to-deal-with-impostor-syndrome/
 **Valerie Young as cited in the previous Time article https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0307452719/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=time037-20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=0307452719&linkId=121fd62adb1a272c96659bb3efcfb0f9

Photo Credit: Hitdelight // Shutterstock.com