Imposter Syndrome...banish it and own yourself!
It’s something that plagues people across all industries. But personally, I have never felt it more acutely since working for myself in the wedding industry. It bloody sucks. That ‘it’ is Imposter Syndrome. Essentially, the inability to internalise one's accomplishments and a persistent fear of being uncovered as a ‘fraud’. Most of the time it’s absolute bullshit...but it doesn't make it any less real in your mind!
Fighting that imposter demon and wanting chocolate, like...
I have internal battles with myself a lot. Partly because I am designing and I haven't got a formal qualification in graphic design...although I have always been artistic and have a good eye. The other half of me constantly worries that someone will knock on my door and say ‘erm….Jenna...stationery isn't a real job. Lol, get dressed, you have an interview at Lidl in half an hour’! Honestly...everyday.
Hon, you ain't alone...
But do you know what...stationery is a legit job - it’s my job! It pays my bills. It gives me a great sense of joy. It gives me freedoms that no other jobs have ever done, you know, like sitting at home all day in my jammies watching Disney films with my kiddo. It also gives me late nights and bags under my eyes, but at least I don’t have to get on sweaty commuter trains anymore! And no, I don't have a degree in design, but I have solidly taught myself how to do what I do and I’ve taught myself to do it well. I am constantly improving myself and my craft, not only for my own sense of pride but so that I can offer the best service I can for my clients.
So, I don’t know about you but I needed to let go, because this ‘Imposter Syndrome’ was becoming a hindrance to my development…
So how did I do it?
1. I accepted that my success was down to me
Well, not just me...because if my couples didn’t have the faith in me, then I wouldn’t have any work to do. But I needed to accept that the reason people were booking me was because they liked my aesthetic. They liked my past work. They had found me amongst all the other stationers and were interested in working with me. And suppliers were enjoying working with me too, and that felt great.
Me with Rosie from A Vintage Wedding...she liked working with me, she told me so...
I am a big believer in karma and being the best version of yourself possible...I try to plough my very best into all my work and in time, it has most certainly paid off. I have really put myself out there this year, from getting involved with shoots and also running my own, to winning awards and guest speaking at The National Wedding Show. I chased those opportunities in order to be seen as a credible person in the industry, and that was my own doing; my own drive. Get that snap cup out, Elle...
"Jo didn't feel like an imposter today because she's a badass florist...snaps for Jo"
2. I stopped comparing myself to others
I do what I do. And I do it well. There are amazing stationers out there who each have their own niche, whether it be working with unconventional materials, offering up uber modern, chic invitations, or those who incorporate beautiful modern calligraphy into their work. Once I stopped comparing myself to them and wondering whether I should try to do everything, I became a whole lot more comfortable with my work and how I approached design.
My aesthetic is bohemian. It’s rustic. It suits couples getting married in the country, or outdoors at a beautiful venue. It’s suits a relaxed couple. As soon as I embraced this and stopped worrying about what other people were doing, I began to really carve out my niche. This started with nailing down my ideal client and advertising in the right places. Everything fell into place.
One of my stationery suites, shot by the wonderfully talented Leah Lombardi
3. I accepted that sometimes I make mistakes, but that doesn't make me a ‘fake’
Shit happens, am I right? And as long as you admit it, apologise and come up with a solution...that’s ok...we're all human. But there was a time when that whenever I made a cock up, I worried myself sick that I was completely shit and completely out of my depth.
I am so lucky that I have a brilliant partner who is hugely supportive of me and my business. He has always given me the confidence to pull my socks up, find a solution and move on when things have gone wrong...and I have learnt from each of those mistakes to a point now where I can cope with almost anything that is thrown at me! Growing a thick skin has been a real tough aspect of running my own business but I am all the more better for it and it allows me to take the rough with the smooth...and take it calmly.
4. I remember the nice things people have said about me
Sounds really egotistical...but remembering just how much a client has appreciated your work, or how much a supplier has enjoyed working with you on a shoot can be a massive affirmer that you are doing something pretty cool.
Ryan Gosling said it, so you know it's true...
Whether you keep a journal or like to pin notes from your customers on your wall...take time to nourish yourself with kind words. Especially if you work solo, from your home or a studio. Working for yourself can be isolating and lonely at times and sometimes, remembering a job well done can give you the little boost you need to carry on with the rest of the day, week or month.
Do you suffer from ‘Imposter Syndrome’? Have you taken steps to combat it? Let me know if this blog has come in handy, or feel free to tell me if you think it's total bollocks...haha! Just remember, you aren’t alone! Soldier on my wee trooper.