It felt both scary and wonderful to get my first full salary from my new client at the end of last month. Why scary? Well, I’ve never earned so much money in one month before. But most of all, I felt like a fraud. Like I didn’t deserve it.
I know that’s not the truth. I worked hard and did well. At our month-end meeting my client had nothing but good things to say about my work. But still, those thoughts of “I’m not good enough” and the accompanying feeling of panic that I don’t really know what I’m doing and will be exposed, kept raising it’s head.
Imposter syndrome? Perhaps. The thing is, I’m used to doing things for next to nothing. To give in when someone can’t pay me for doing something, or charging them a price that didn’t take much of my effort and time into consideration. This caused me so much anxiety and stress. I was doing too much for others with little in return and becoming burnt out. A lot of it I would use as an excuse “it’s good for my portfolio or for practice”. Sure, that’s valid, but not to the extent I was taking it. Now that I’m charging more I feel guilty for it.
My therapist had to listen to me complain about these things and saw how it was affecting me. She helped me get to the place where I realized that way of doing things wasn’t working for me, and wasn’t worth it, and I could start putting proper boundaries in place. It’s still hard to stand firm, especially with friends and family, but I’m doing it.
This client is the ideal client for me. He’s honest, to the point, and doesn’t rush me. I’ve already learned so many new things and am becoming more confident, but I still get my days where I feel “not good enough”. One thing I really appreciate about him is that he will often send me a “good job!” or “well done”. So that helps tremendously.
Whenever I start experiencing those “not good enough” thoughts, and feelings of panic or fear, I try to remember to challenge them with more helpful thoughts. “I’ve come this far and I’m doing the best I can”. I also try to find moments where I can look at my work and say “I’m proud of myself, I did well”.