Working as a web designer/developer or creative professional can bring up a ton of self-doubt. There’s a lot that goes into being a web professional: changing technology, relationships to navigate (colleagues and clients), expectations to meet (other people’s as well as our own), being productive as an employee or business owner and you know, the actual work of designing and developing websites.
Which framework or starter theme should I use? Did I code this thing right? Where the hell is that Photoshop tool I know is here somewhere? Shit, should I have said that? Ugh, I shouldn’t have said that. I should know where that tool is. Great, someone’s going to find out I don’t know what in the hell I’m doing. I hate myself. I’m going to go hide now.
Does that sound familiar?
It feels so bad, doesn’t it?
The irony is that there is so much information out there about which framework or starter theme to use, how to use Photoshop, how to manage projects from start to finish and so much more. I don’t need to tell you this. (And by the way, I am not saying that information is in any way bad or wrong)
What you may have noticed is learning and knowing that information doesn’t actually help you feel better. It’s not because there’s something wrong with you or you haven’t learned enough yet. The reason has to do with your mindset.
Hi, I’m Lauren Pittenger.
I’m a professional web designer and front-end developer. I am mostly self-taught and I work from home for a little two-person agency. For years, I struggled with constant self-doubt and feeling like I didn’t know enough. I struggled with depression, anxiety, and ADHD. I struggled to be productive and do my best work. I struggled to stop hating myself. I searched desperately for help and to feel better. I read tons of articles and books, took courses, listened to podcasts, went to therapy, joined a group coaching program and consumed anything that seemed like it might help.
It didn’t help. I still felt awful.
What I learned is that although the articles, books, courses, and podcasts touch on many important aspects of being a creative professional, many of them didn’t help me change my beliefs about myself.
Instead, I kept thinking and feeling really crappy thoughts and feelings while also knowing all of this other information. How can that possibly be? If I don’t know enough, shouldn’t learning fix it? It didn’t add up.
What I realized is that learning more about design and development and client management can’t actually release the fear and misery that comes with imposter syndrome. There’s no amount of information to be learned that would change the belief of not knowing enough. Why? Because there is no arriving at “enough.” Where does that line exist? How do we measure enoughness? This is where thought work comes in.
So, what can we do?
Living a Mindful, Creative Life
It’s not an easy way and it can be really difficult and uncomfortable sometimes. It takes work and effort and it is so incredibly worth it. It’s getting real and honest with yourself and really taking a look at what you’re creating in your life and taking complete responsibility for it. It’s being willing to feel negative emotion and taking a good, hard look at what’s going on in your head. It’s looking at your life and realizing and owning the fact that you created it with your mind.
In January 2017, I had a nervous breakdown. It wasn’t the first one I ever had. I remember thinking to myself that there has to be another way to live. I gave up. I was so tired of feeling so terrible all of the time, and so I started seeking answers to figure out what I was missing.
My mission here is to share what I have learned over the last year and a half that has had a profound impact on my own life. I don’t have all the answers. But I can share what I have learned that has impacted my own life in ways I could never have imagined. Although I’m only a few steps down the road of my own journey (there is no arriving, after all), my hope is what I share might help you in some way.