Asking for a friend: What’s the best way to deal with imposter syndrome?

This month, alongside industry partners Never Not Creative and the Mentally Healthy Change Group, Youngbloods launched Asking for a Friend. An online conversation where industry leaders and mental health experts answer those tougher questions that you’ve been dying to ask, anonymously.

Our most upvoted question was one about imposter syndrome. Described by the Harvard Business Review as a ‘collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success’, imposter syndrome can leave you with feelings of chronic self-doubt that can make you unable to feel any kind of personal success or accomplishment. It’s something many creatives have encountered or will encounter in their careers. According to research, it’s also very common amongst women.

We had the privilege of asking Executive Creative Director at Colenso BBDO Maria Devereux about what imposter syndrome means to her and others in our industry. Her perspective is not only sincerely personal, but also beautiful. Thank you Maria.

And thank you to the person who asked this question that started this important conversation.

Q - What’s the best way to deal with imposter syndrome? I find myself struggling with this often and has sabotaged my career, creative opportunities and undermined my confidence.

Maria – I love this question because I had such severe imposter syndrome. And, I can hand on heart say that most of the creatives I admire have it too. I almost wonder if it’s a good thing. Of course, in some regard it can feel like a bad thing, but it’s also a thing that drives us as creatives to want to keep creating and evolving to do the best we can.

We have to balance with our imposter syndrome and be kind to ourselves. There’s a sort of dark side to that, but it’s an incredibly common thing, especially with creatives. And so personally, I find it nice to know that I’m not alone and others can have it and that other people who are way more talented than me can have it.

I recently got promoted to ECD and that was probably the most severe case of imposter syndrome I’ve ever experienced. But you know what, it didn’t last long. A few close friends around me were saying ‘you know you can just slip into it and believe in yourself and get on with it’.

So I did. And all was well.

It’s a really common thing. But with a beautiful side to it as well. So hold it gently and be kind to yourself. Don’t let it get the better of you.

Have you got a question? Or perhaps you’d like to have lunch with 99 other people. Join us Thursday May 7th at 12:30pm for our next session of Asking for a Friend. We’ve got the wickedly talented Jess Lilley, Creative Director at Leo Burnett and Aileen Alegado, psychologist to answer, well, anything. Remember all questions are anonymous and none too stupid. Register here:

By Phoebe Sloane, copywriter at CHE Proximity