What is Imposter Syndrome? 4 Ways to Overcome It

Diving into the world of freelancing presents a truckload of new challenges. Logistics, client acquisition, online resources, and a business plan are several items to check off your start-up list. However, imposter syndrome is perhaps the most massive inner beast you’ll tame as you launch your services.

Imposter syndrome is the voice that tells us, “You’ll never make a go of it as a solopreneur. There’s too much you don’t know, and you’re no expert here. You’ll never be as experienced or wise as every other professional in your field. You’re such a fraud, who would ever want your help with anything?”  

Stick with Voyageur U, and we’ll help you kick your Inner Imposter to the curb. We lead a community of professionals and leaders to their highest freelancing potential through effective networking and powerful business tools. 

Join the community at Voyageur U today — and let your skills and experience shine with confidence as you grow your following and service reach using the resources that come with membership.

How Does Your Inner Imposter Show Up?

Imposter syndrome usually presents as overwhelming feelings of inadequacy, even in the face of massive success, education, and experience. 

It’s normal to feel like a fish out of water when you start your first job, your first college course, or a new project. However, if you continually feel like you’re not getting anything right or you’re a “fraud” after years of study and practice in the field of your choosing, it’s likely imposter syndrome getting you down.

  • The seeds of imposter syndrome often find their first roots in families of origin. For example, if the message you received as a kid was “failure is not an option,” or “you’ve always been so lucky,” you may feel like all your success as an adult occurs by chance, not skill. 
  • You may also place undue pressure on yourself to succeed at all costs and never allow yourself to learn through making mistakes because you could be “found out.”
  • If you give every last crumb of credit to your team or play off all success as “it was easy, anyone could do it,” that may also be the Inner Imposter speaking in place of the authentic you. Of course, most leaders know that success is often a team effort, but it’s okay to remember that your leadership is part and parcel of your team’s or project’s advancement.

notebook with words imposter syndrome

Yes, There Is Such a Thing as Being Too Humble

Many of us are trained from birth to demure when friends and colleagues deliver compliments, no matter how well-deserved they may be. 

Habitually refusing to accept accolades can make the imposter voice even louder as the years go by, especially when you decide to go “out on your own.” 

Taking an honest look at your achievements can help you silence your inner critic and feel more at home in your expertise. 

Accepting praise and excellent service reviews with gratitude and pride aren’t the mark of a huge ego. Instead, standing by your education and knowledge create a foundation of success as a freelancer.

So, How Do I Get Past My Feelings of Being a “Fake?”

Overcoming imposter syndrome doesn’t happen overnight. You’ll have to rewire your self-talk and behavior patterns with time and practice. 

Change and growth can only happen when we tell the truth about ourselves, though. Here’s how to begin doing that.

mature business woman smiling and confident at computer

1. Catch your Inner Imposter before she (or he) steamrolls you.

Imposter syndrome can get unmanageable quickly. When you see your thoughts going down the path of self-flagellation and obsession, and you notice yourself “feeling like a fraud,” stop what you’re doing. 

Take a breath, or six. Move your body with a few stretches or a quick walk and return to reality in the present moment. Have an honest conversation with your inner critic, and remind that voice that YOU are in charge of your thoughts and choices, not them.

2. Admit your self-doubt (gently, to yourself).

It’s entirely human not to know everything, or to be the least smart person in the room sometimes. 

Many leaders understand this phenomenon and willingly surround themselves with experienced pros as a matter of course. Great is the leader who can accept this sort of discomfort to learn more and grow profoundly.

Remember, to succeed as a freelancer you only need a bit more knowledge than the people you help. It’s engaging and magnetic to be a perennial learner as much as you are a teacher or leader.

Plus, learning to be as comfortable in the student chair as the teacher seat keeps your work engaging and fascinating. You’ll stay fresh on new trends in and out of your sector.

3. Find a safe place to share your thoughts and feelings.

Talking to a counselor, mentor, coach, pastor, best friend, book club, or trusted family member about your professional doubts can help them seem lighter and more manageable. (Joining Voyageur U gives you an entire network of fellow professionals you can discuss those doubts with!)

No one loves to feel like they’re on an emotional island. Many professionals struggle with imposter syndrome. Sharing about it with others who’ve walked in your shoes can help lighten the load and change your mindset.

Taking a gulp and getting vulnerable and honest with others about your self-doubt may feel daunting at first. Once you discover that others have walked through the imposter syndrome crucible, you’ll have support and empathy from other successful leaders.

team of employees working together

4. Normalize imposter syndrome and move on in confidence. 

Talking about imposter syndrome openly minimizes the shame we can feel about our perceived lack of professional credibility. Getting help from people like the team at Voyageur U is an effective step to building a network of support and confidence as a freelancer.

Every solo-preneur needs a team of colleagues, helping professionals, and leaders in their corner. We help you curate and customize your success strategy when you make the leap to freelancing, as no one else can.

Stop by our website to join Voyageur U today. Our online resources, networking prowess, and freelancing tips and hacks will help you launch, grow, and sustain your professional independence for years to come.



John Arms.

Co-founder and Author.

I get my energy from helping professionals succeed in their independent businesses. I get to help people who were once stuck in their careers get unstuck. It’s truly an amazing thing to witness that transformation. I believe that success in the independent economy does more for a person’s pocketbook, health, life balance and sense of purpose than any other type of career choice.