“We’re Not Worthy”: Overcoming and Escaping Impostor Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is the sense that you are less accomplished or qualified than your peers. It’s common in many professions where ambition is high, but it’s particularly prevalent in UX, where we have limited visibility into each other’s work. We end up thinking that everyone else knows something we don’t, that everyone is doing better work than we are.

The prevalence of Imposter Syndrome may also be due to the newness of the profession. University programs have only developed recently, and many, if not most, of us have come to the field of UX in a circuitous manner, so that it’s hard for us to feel like experts. Personality also seems to play a role, as Imposter Syndrome seems to be more prevalent among introverts – and introverts seem to be drawn to UX. Additionally, gender issues play a role in Imposter Syndrome and we’ll look at why it seems to be more prevalent among women. Regardless of the causes, however, Imposter Syndrome limits us as individuals and limits UX as a profession, and we all have an interest in overcoming it.

We will look at the research that has already been conducted on a larger non-industry specific scale and conduct some of our own research through a survey of our professional peers to further support our claims. We’ll also discuss the causes and consequences of Imposter Syndrome and how to deal with them. We’ll draw on our own experiences with Imposter Syndrome, and the talk will include quotes from well-known practitioners who have struggled with Imposter Syndrome themselves and how they’ve combatted it. We’ll look at how a bit of Imposter Syndrome can be a good thing. If we understand the basis for it and how it can help rather than hinder us, we can use it to grow as UX practitioners. We will provide tips to help overcome this specifically with the UX audience in mind.

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