Besides the obvious physical harm, COVID-19 also impacted many people mentally. Especially for creatives, going back to normal feels difficult. I find myself comparing my current work to that before the pandemic, and a sense of inability to do what I used to, and even anything satisfactory, keeps creeping back.
As creatives—that is, writers, artists, and other people who create something for people to engage with—the weirdest things can affect our mojo and getting it back is always our top priority if we ever lose it.
If the pandemic made you feel like a fraud, or you’re finding it hard to get anything done, you might be dealing with imposter syndrome. I am a post-covid imposter syndrome victim, and I am in the process of getting my mojo back. I am doing a great job so far, so I would like to share my tips for beating imposter syndrome in the post-covid season.
With the world going back to normalcy, with most of us going back to our desks at work and trying to be creative in the way we used to, we need to get those creative juices up and running with full confidence.
Imposter Syndrome involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persists despite your education, experience, and accomplishments. It can make you feel like you are not intelligent, creative, or talented, and in most cases a person will feel incompetent to replicate past successes.
Journal of General Internal Medicine states that up to 82% of people face feelings of impostor phenomenon, struggling with the sense they haven’t earned what they’ve achieved and are fraud. This feeling may lead to the inability to maximize skills or do any form of work as a result of low confidence or an overwhelming feeling of seeing themselves as a failure.
When you feel this way, you may not want to get any work done to avoid failing, or disappointing yourself and others.
Interestingly enough, the pandemic made imposter syndrome better for some people. In Refinery29, the writer interviewed some people, and they expressed how the pandemic affected them. Though for some it triggered or worsened imposter syndrome, for others, it was the cure they needed.
However, those who suffered from imposter syndrome could not progress in their work because the pandemic implanted seeds of self-doubt that made them question their skills and abilities.
For me, it was a struggle of comfort. Before the pandemic, I worked with strict deadlines and competition from my colleagues to put our best foot forward before the end of office hours. This was enough push for me to write as well as I could to avoid being queried. Then the pandemic came and I had the opportunity to work from home and at my own pace.
I had no idea this would impact my work when I returned to strict deadlines and competition.
After adapting to the comfort of my work desk at home, I am suddenly called back to my desk at the office to do what I used to before the pandemic started, which was working with deadlines. This brought about an overwhelming feeling and I struggled to write because of the fear of not being good enough. In reality, I was, and it was just that feeling that made me unable to be my best.
There are three key signs to look out for to determine if you are struggling with imposter syndrome:
If you recognize yourself in one or more of the above, then you might be dealing with imposter syndrome.
It might be a mild case that doesn’t last very long, or then it could cause you problems for a long time. Nonetheless, it doesn’t matter how long it lasts, because it affects your performance.
Covid-19 changed many things, and many things are still changing. Overall creative morale, which is the enthusiasm to be creative, reduced drastically in 2020. The perils of imposter syndrome now plague creatives’ wellbeing more than ever.
As a post-covid imposter syndrome victim, writing was difficult because I was dealing with the feeling of self-doubt. Still, I had to deal with it once the pandemic entered a new phase, with things returning to some sort of new normal.
We had to get used to doing things differently during covid, which made a lot of things more relaxed than they used to be. People were less concerned about being super productive, deadlines were not as strict, people worked at their own pace, there was more flexibility with the outcome of projects, and people were generally more concerned about their health.
So, how do we now adapt to the new phase, returning to deadlines and office work?
Suppose you find yourself struggling to believe in your skills and abilities to produce top-notch creative pieces or are reluctant to believe that you did something good enough to get accolades. Here are a few simple but effective ways to help you get out of that funk and get you working like you used to before the pandemic started.
The first step in dealing with anything you think is a problem is acknowledging that it’s a problem. Once all the signs of a problem lead to a particular issue, it’s best to acknowledge it as soon as possible because the sooner, the better.
You name your feelings by acknowledging them, which helps you find solutions to whatever you’re feeling. You can acknowledge by saying to yourself, “I feel like I couldn’t have written that piece,” “I feel it is because James helped with the art, that’s why people like it,” “I feel like I can’t edit like I used to.”
Making statements like this to yourself or someone else is proof that you’re acknowledging your feelings, which will get you the right diagnosis and then a solution. Once you have satisfied the acknowledgement criteria, you then begin to deal with it head-on.
To satisfy the acknowledgement criteria, I looked out for when I had unproductive thoughts, like “Did I write this piece?”or “I couldn’t have written this.”
After surviving a pandemic that killed many, it is necessary to reset the mind and, thus, adapt to a different context. Besides keeping ourselves safe with prevention against the disease—for instance, by getting the vaccine and practising safety precautions—it’s as important to make a living by using our skills and abilities.
In a nutshell, we can’t afford to feel incompetent and unworthy of the benefits that come with our skills.
You can also reset your mindset by believing in yourself and getting rid of that little voice that creates self-doubt. If that little voice of self-doubt creeps in and makes you question your worth, you have to realize that it’s just a feeling and you’re not what that voice says you are.
To help with my mindset reset, the aim was first to accept that I might be dealing with imposter syndrome—I did that as I described above, by catching myself thinking like an imposter.
After acknowledging the fact, I’ve been consciously trying to find alternative thoughts that are more helpful. I do this by remembering the process, time, and effort it takes to do my work. I also remind myself that nobody is perfect and perfection is not needed for success, but I need to work to succeed. Therefore, unnecessary thoughts that would hinder success are not needed.
At the end of the day, imposter syndrome is just a feeling and not a reality, and like many feelings, you have the power to control it.
This may be a therapist, a family member, or a friend. Talking about your worries helps in satisfying the first step to dealing with imposter syndrome, which is acknowledging it. It also helps make it easier to deal with your concerns, even though they do not necessarily provide you with any solution or quick fix.
When you want to speak to someone, it is better to have a face-to-face conversation or a phone call rather than a text, so they feel the urgency and help you if they can. They can also help you identify and highlight your strengths, and reassure you that you are not a fraud and you can do anything you set your mind on doing.
My parents and siblings were the third parties I spoke to, and the reassurance I got from them every day really went a long way in helping me get over my imposter syndrome and back to doing what I liked doing.
It would help if you also tried not forcing it. If you feel you can’t do something at a particular time, you should leave it and come back to it, maybe when you are in a better mood. During the break, you can visualise yourself doing that work well. The power of positive visualisation beats any negative thoughts.
You can also try taking a break from anything that would make the process of getting back your mojo more difficult than it should be. To deal with my imposter syndrome, I took time off social media because there I saw things that triggered my self-doubt, which was certainly not what I needed at that time.
Affirmations can be a great tool for building inner awareness and self-confidence. Saying words that would encourage you will help reset your mindset, make you feel better about yourself, and ultimately fuel the drive to do your work.
Words and phrases that can be practised are: “I am confident in who I am and what I do!”, “I can do this!”, “I am smart and incredible!”, “I am strong and capable”, “I love myself and my skills.”
You can say these when you wake up in the morning, use them as your phone or desktop wallpaper, or put them up on your wall so you see them every day and you are reminded of your awesomeness. Affirmations are like food for your self-esteem and an amazing solution when you doubt yourself.
Although imposter syndrome is not a diagnosable mental health condition, it can lead to mental health conditions, such as low-self confidence and anxiety, so it is important to take it seriously. The pandemic might (hopefully) be ending, but it is leaving much more damage than people realize and it is important for you to know if something is bothering you.
Discipline and self-awareness are the ultimate key to eliminating imposter syndrome. The few tips given in this article will help you rewire your mindset, and enable you to feel more confident about yourself and the work you put out.
Just a reminder: You are a brilliant person, and you can do what you used to do before the pandemic, and even better.
Rafiat is a law graduate, a culinary entrepreneur and a blogger on Raffiscuisine. She’s passionate about changing the world, one stomach at a time and is looking forward to making more discoveries about the endless possibilities in the world. She believes everyone should write as she finds writing therapeutic and a valuable use of time. Connect with Rafiat on Instagram or LinkedIn.