ImpostHER Syndrome

Lizzie Hutchison explains why she’s no longer feeling guilty about feeling guilty

I’m a bit bored of imposter syndrome. I know. I sound awful. It’s just sometimes I think at what point do we stop whining about our insecurities, and start getting shit done? No one (apart from narcissists and psychopaths) is truly confident all the time, so why have we made it a thing? It weakens us. And honestly, I do not need more baggage. My Kate Spade weighs enough, hun. 

Although both sexes suffer from imposter syndrome, statistically women are more likely to. Hurray. Research also suggests that men are far more comfortable with self-promotion, and it stands up. When I listen to male teams present work, I often think they sound much more confident than I do. And it’s nothing to do with presentation skills. I’ve done a course in stand-up. A-level drama. Debating. 2 years in account handling getting clients to buy ideas. Frankly, I’m a pretty good orator. But believing in the idea you’ve thought of and then selling it is another level of self belief. And honestly, it pays to be cocky. 

I checked my phone to see what insightful musings were in my notes, and found (among other gin-spired comments) ‘is genius just about backing yourself?’ Given the somewhat egotistical nature of quoting oneself in one’s own writing, I think you can guess on which side of the fence the author comes down. We’re often spouted that 99% perspiration 1% inspiration stat, but it’s bollocks. Genius is all about self belief. And in this weird world of flogging something you thought of, I’m a little late to the party. 

Filling blank pages for a living requires the understanding that on some level, you back yourself to produce the goods. And if you’re trying a different style or angle, you need a certain amount of confidence to believe it’s worth it, when the cursor starts blinking. Change is uncomfortable, but it creates the memorable stuff. And it’s the visionary tomorrow-thinkers that we all want to be. When James Joyce wrote however many pages of Ulysses, when Virginia Woolf sparked streams of consciousness and when Picasso tired of painting people with the conventional number of features, they must have really thought they were onto something. Been certain of their ideas and persisted in their craft, before attempting to persuade everyone else. 

I had a conversation with a successful artist at a party recently. And I thought goodness, you genuinely believe in what you’re doing. To me, she sounded like one of those gallery intro pieces that I’ve always giggled at, but actually – maybe geometric lines and a limited colour palette ARE the only ways to portray the downfall of a capitalist society. Maybe we all just need to do something and freaking believe in it. 

Convince yourself, convince others. It makes a significant difference when someone sells an idea like they mean it. I remember watching one art director come to life at the crucial moment. He took a peek at the concept, leant back in his chair, and with glinting eyes whispered, ‘now this, this… is a big idea’. I may not go this hard in my next presentation. But then again, I just might.