Have you ever felt like a fraud, like you were living a lie, like you weren’t worthy of your position, salary or degree? Like you shouldn’t be the one receiving all the accolades because you don’t deserve it? Well, my friend you may have imposter syndrome.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. It is an innate fear of being exposed as a fraud. This feeling of unworthiness is most common in the workplace and is usually experienced by perfectionists or overachievers.
According to research conducted by Jaruwan Sakulku and James Alexander titled The Imposter Phenomenon, it is estimated that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of this phenomenon in their lives. However, most people that exhibit this feeling are unaware of this phenomenon and that it is self-damaging with negative implications for their mental health.
Imposter syndrome will tell you that you got that job or promotion at work because there weren’t many candidates. The lecture you’re about to give is not valid because you’re not an expert in the field. Your book only became a best seller out of mere luck not because of all the hard work you put into it.
A lot of people suffer from this phenomenon including celebrities we look up to.
The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.
– ALBERT EINSTEIN
I go through [acute imposter syndrome] with every role. I think winning an Oscar may in fact have made it worse. Now I’ve achieved this, what am I going to do next? What do I strive for? Then I remember that I didn’t get into acting for the accolades, I got into it for the joy of telling stories.
– LUPITA NYONG’0
No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?’
– TOM HANKS
I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now, I’ve run a game on everbody, and they’re going to find me out.
– MAYA ANJELOU
Recognizing Imposter Syndrome
The first step to finding a solution to a problem is the recognition that the problem exists. As we are all different people, our traits of imposter syndrome may differ but there are a few similar symptoms most people with this syndrome exhibit which include;
- Lack of confidence
- Focusing on the past
- Over analyzing small mistakes
- Second-guessing yourself
- Negative self-talk
- Distrust in your abilities
- Fear of being noticed
- Belittling personal milestones and achievements
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Now that we have identified the symptoms of imposter syndrome, how do we manage them to stop feeling this way?
- Believe in yourself: The first step in overcoming imposter syndrome is believing in your abilities and capabilities. When that inner voice tells you you’re not good enough, tell it to suck it.
- Remember that no one is perfect: There is no perfect human being in the world likewise no perfect thing. Perfectionism steals your joy and you need to fight it off by accepting that you have done your best and your best is good enough.
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: We are different beings and our life journeys are also different. When we compare ourselves to others, we’re often comparing their best features against our average ones because we never know the full picture only what we can see. Comparison allows other people to direct our behavior and this is a certain cause for a drop in self-confidence and unhappiness.
- Self-Appreciation: Owning and celebrating achievements is essential to find contentment, self-confidence, and also to avoid burnout. Train yourself to veer away from external validation and instead, focus on internal validation. No one should have more power to make you feel good about yourself than you. Celebrate your little wins and give yourself credit for all the work that you do.
- Move on from Past Mistakes: Life is a learning process and no one is above mistakes. Just because you messed up the report that one time doesn’t mean it will happen again. So you don’t need to spend an additional two hours cross-checking your report before you send it out. Learn to take mistakes as lessons, and constructive criticism seriously not personally.
- Embrace Learning: Every day we are alive is another day to learn something new or improve an old skill. If you feel like you can make your slides come out a little nicer or speak a lot better when presenting, you can take a course to improve your presentation skills. Remember that the more you practice a skill, the better you get at it.
I’ve felt like a fraud quite a number of times, and every time I have an imposter moment, I fight it off quickly to ensure it doesn’t linger and ruin everything in its way. It’s essential to add that most people experience moments of doubt, and it’s normal. The important thing is not to let that doubt control your actions and lead your life.
I’m an avid believer in affirmations so whenever you’re having an imposter moment, speak these words to yourself.
I am able
I am capable
I am worthy
I am complete
I am dependable
I am resourceful
I am relentless
I am not a fraud
I am flawed, but I am not dumb
I am not perfect, but I am good enough
I will not let my worries control me
I will breathe and focus on now
I will be okay because I’ve got this
Have you ever felt like an imposter? Let’s discuss below👇🏼