A little while ago I saw a post in one of our Facebook groups that I haven’t been able to get out of my head. It wasn’t anything too out of the ordinary but the community response and the result that response had made me want to share it with even more people via our blog.
Tasneem Abrahams, a member of the Divi Theme Users & Elegant Marketplace Facebook group, posted this:
Hello all! Anyone else from this awesome community also a lane changer? i.e. someone from a completely non-design, non-developer background, now in the business of design/development? Everytime I watch one of Nathan’s Divi nation podcasts or a Divi chat episode and I hear people like Shannon Shaffer or Monica or even SJ James talk about their path to awesomeness it makes me feel like maybe I too can be like the Kung Fu Panda who looks like all he should be doing is working in his fathers shop when really deep down he has some kickass chi to save the world. I sometimes feel like Divi is my chi and you all are my master Shifu BUT oneday I will wake up and realize its all a fantasy and I should just go back to being an occupational therapist ?. Guess what I’m asking is, how do you shake imposter syndrome and build confidence in your web design abilities? Yeah not totaly Divi related sorry!
My own response got in near the top of the thread:
It’s not something we’ve talked about on the podcast, but maybe try some daily affirmation exercises. Most everyone I’ve talked to has gone through a process of re-orienting their identity to see themselves as someone who can succeed at being a Divi designer. It helps to have a good habit of being honest with yourself too and finding people who will be honest with you in a constructive way about the quality of your work. Which, after all, is what this community is all about.
But many others followed. Below are some of my favorites.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome the Divi Nation Way
Monica Higgins had this to say:
Ahh the old imposter syndrome! I suffer from that quite badly at times. Sometimes when clients or peers say they love what I’ve made, my head says, “they’re lying just to be nice!” It’s a tough one to break, and I think many people suffer from it, irrespective of whether they’ve had a career change or have been on the same trajectory since school. What has helped me to curb this is to know my strengths. Even though I challenge myself with every new job, I still try to stick within a framework of what I’m particularly good at, which is illustration and decorative work. The more you hone your specific strengths, the more masterful you become, and you’ll also be less likely to compare yourself to others.
I also find, as Nathan suggested, that affirmations really help. I write a brain dump every morning, and try to address the crap my inner critic is saying by turning it into something positive. Good luck, Tasneem! ?
Zaid Barry Mackay added this:
Tasneem Abrahams What helps me is placing all my focus on adding value to the client. Even though I have basic skills in this field (I come from retail!) I know that what I do adds real value to my clients…that gives me confidence. And it takes my focus off me.
Alicia Hughes shared a story similar to Tasneem’s:
I was a litigation claims adjuster for 25 years but the insurance market was drying up in my state. After receiving a pink slip and not finding anything remotely close to my previous paygrade, a friend who was in the digital marketing field thought it would be great if I learned web design so he wouldn’t have to outsource the builds overseas anymore. My disdain for Corporate America was enough to fuel the desire to learn web design, and then onto SEO.
So did Amy Hooke! (and many others)
I’m the same as you… Was a bookkeeper and did my own site for fun.. Other colleagues asked me to make them one and now I do divi websites full time.
I know some members of this group have posted some things to make others feel like they aren’t good enough to call themselves Web designers so my first advice would be… Ignore those comments.
I can have moments of feeling like an imposter when something goes wrong and I don’t know how to fix it. It’s a huge learning curve, moving into a new profession. I know there are days where I think I’ll get caught out for not knowing everything.
But here’s the thing… I was a bookkeeper for 20 years and I still didn’t know everything.
No matter how good you get there will be so much more to learn. I think accepting that is a really good thing for all of us.
There are also a lot of very supportive people in this tribe who will help you remember to be patient with yourself and help you when you get stuck!
But I’d like to end on the advice of David Martin, who I think hits several points we have covered in Divi Nation, the official Divi podcast, on more than on occasion:
Impostor Syndrome I have found (for me at least) came from simply not getting out. I went to many, many meetup groups and found people selling web design services that were black boxes inside a white box for 5 grand a pop, promising clients #1 spot in Google. Then others who said they were developers and simply installed the same generic WordPress “2012” theme to everyone they met, regardless of what it looked like or did or didn’t do, and again promised top ranking in Google, for whatever they could get. The lesson I learned was that people could and would say anything to make a sale, and quality or ROI didn’t matter and that the public had zero idea whether they were being had or not. It was all sales. The more I saw the more I realized while I may not be as great as many other DIvi devs here (for example Geno is like Divi Obi Wan to me), what separated me was integrity, moving and progressing slowly, not giving up, and value – but if I wanted to earn a living I’d have to learn to sell like the others already knew how to do. Sell and offer value, not widgets or plugins or themes, talk about what you can do for them and their business goals. Then if you deliver the best work you can do at that time, you’ll be better than the herd of “developers” and “founders” our there who are (as the kids say) “frontin.”
Before putting this post together I reached out to Tasneem on Facebook to ask if she minded if I shared her experience on our blog. Not only did she agree but it really seems like the community support has helped bolster her confidence and encouraged her to keep pushing toward bettering herself, her skills, and her Divi design business.
Which, of course, is what I want for everyone reading this. The comments I highlighted above are just a few of the excellent messages of support Tasneem received and I can say with confidence that if you get involved in the Divi community too (be it on Facebook, here on our blog, or in person via Meetup) we will be there to support you too.
Do you have a Divi community story you’d like to share? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!
Featured Image via Dim Tik / Shutterstock.com
thank you so much for this. it encouraged me today.
You know, I love your blog DIVI, and I often glean helpful tips from it. But, I think imposter syndrome comes from the fact that DIVI Nation people are competing with people who have actual knowledge of web design. People who went to art school, who have studied CSS and HTML and made websites with it before they started using WordPress as the wonderful content management system it is.
You all should support DIVI with all your hearts, souls, and money, because if that system fails you will experience what that nagging fear – imposter syndrome – is trying to tell you. You are dependent.
In every walk of life there is a vast spectrum of talent available. It is noticeable in my hobbies such as ice hockey and grilling. It is noticeable in graphic design and website design. Although I have built websites since 1995 (remember Netscape?) and started designing my own ads and logos about then, I see myself more as a problem solver.
The reality is that a business owner is bombarded with amazing offers and learns to be wary of all. Represent what you can do for your client and communicate quickly and clearly the plan of action.
Pricing is the next mental hurdle to overcome.
One word of advice – Order Form – ok, two words.
So, you can be whatever you want to be, just be all you can be!
Nice one. Loved it.
Thanks for this post. I credit Divi with helping me overcome Imposter Syndrome (for the most part, I still feel it from time to time, but nothing like before). Until I discovered Divi, I felt trapped and overwhelmed. I couldn’t design websites the way I truly wanted to because every theme I tried was too constricting, and developing one from scratch took way too long, and I’m stronger in the design side than the development side, so doing that much code was a little too out of my comfort zone. I actually stopped building websites for a few months because I didn’t feel like I belonged in that world, no matter how badly I wanted to. Then I learned about Divi (at a WordPress meetup) and decided to give it a try. To say it changed my life is an understatement. All of a sudden, I could build a website the way I want, with very few limitations to the design. Then I started discovering the Facebook groups and the online support… and suddenly I wasn’t alone anymore. I have learned so much through the ET blogs and Facebook groups, and I can’t thank this community enough. I’m living my dream, without the crippling Imposter Syndrome hanging over me anymore.
I feel this way a lot, still. WP was a hobby to me for so many years, and now working with it professionally makes me still feel as though I’m just playing at it. But, you know, as long as you’re getting paid for it and putting out work that you get hired for…you’re not an imposter. You’re doing the thing, and that’s awesome. So go us!
Great post. Thanks for it. As a side note, could anyone tell me which comments plugin Elegant Themes is using for this blog? It looks great.