Almost everyone you know has felt it.
That icky feeling of “I’m not good enough.”
You’ve taken the classes, you’ve read the book, and you have the work experience. So why do you feel like you’re not good enough?
This odious feeling has a name. It’s called imposter syndrome and almost everyone will feel it at some point in their life.
For a long time, the only exposure I had to imposters were the people under the masks in Scooby-Doo. Unlike those villains, you can’t just haul imposter syndrome off to jail and call it a day.
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What Is Imposter Syndrome?
So what is imposter syndrome? According to the Harvard Business Review, imposter syndrome is defined as “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.”
This means that no matter how many times you’ve done something well or succeeded at it, you’ll always have that nagging feeling that you aren’t up to snuff. You’re unable to celebrate your accomplishments, despite your successes.
I’ve had a bit of this throughout my teen years into my early twenties. I’ve been writing blogs for three years now, but it’s taken me such a long time to finally take the leap and start my own. Why? I simply thought I wouldn’t be good enough.
- Why I Decided To Start A Blog (And Why You Should Too!)
- Everything I Used To Start My Blog
- What I Wish I Knew Before I Became A Freelance Writer
These feelings aren’t limited to my blog. I would hold back from applying to dozens of jobs I was qualified for because I didn’t think I could deliver. Or I would underbid and regret it when the amount of work didn’t equal the pay.
Feelings of inadequacy don’t have to make sense. They just simply exist, and they’re enough to stifle the creativity of millions.
This doesn’t mean that these people are unsuccessful. On the contrary, highly successful people suffer from imposter syndrome, and many of these cases are linked with perfectionism.
How Does Imposter Syndrome Affect You?
Imposter syndrome affects us in many ways. You’ll see people tend to downplay their success. They think that anyone could have done it, or that they haven’t done anything out of the ordinary.
The fear of failure plays a big role as well. You might think that if you fail at something, you’ll be exposed for being a fake and a fraud, never to be taken seriously again. With more success comes more visibility and responsibility.
This can be scary for anyone, but for those with imposter syndrome, it’s terrifying. You worry about the higher stakes, and the fear that you might not be able to deliver can stop you from reaching out at all.
You may have imposter syndrome if you’re answering yes to the following questions:
- Do you set unreasonably high expectations for yourself?
- Do you feel like you’ve failed when you meet 95% of these expectations?
- Are you afraid of “looking stupid” when you don’t know an answer?
- Do you feel like asking for help means you are incompetent?
- Do you feel stressed when you’re not accomplishing something?
If you answered yes to any of these, you’re no stranger to imposter feelings.
How To Deal With Imposter Syndrome
Okay, so we’ve identified a few of the characteristics of imposter syndrome. Now we want to know how we can deal with it!
Imposter syndrome doesn’t have to take over your life or leave you paralyzed. We all want to keep moving forward, so how can you do that? Here are a few ways to cope.
Steps To Overcome Your Imposter Syndrome
Talk About It
You’ll be surprised to find out just how many people also experience imposter syndrome. I remember the first time I heard my friend freely say that they were dealing with it. I was shocked. In my world, I was the only one on the planet who chronically sells themselves short.
We all spend so much time in our heads that we forget everyone is out here walking around with the same thoughts. If you don’t think so, a five-minute stint on Twitter will show you that we all literally had the same childhood. All of us.
You never know who’s going something similar until they say it. So start talking!
Recognize The Fake Feelings
Fake friends and fake feelings have something in common. They both disappear when exposed.
When you start to fall back into a self-doubting train of thought, work on recognizing those feelings and catching them as they come. Track them to see when they come up and if anything triggers them. When the feelings are clearly identified, you can work on rebranding them.
Every single feeling of self-doubt doesn’t mean that you haven’t overcome imposter syndrome. Don’t obsess over your feelings of inadequacy. The truth is, no one is going to be great at everything. It’s just not possible.
It is okay to suck at something the first few times you do it. You want to avoid wallowing in those feelings of failure. Just because you feel like a failure does not mean you are one.
Change Your Narrative
We all have the power to change our narrative. When you fall short in something you wanted to do, don’t look at it like it’s the end of the world. Instead, look at it as a learning experience.
See what you can improve on in the future. Focus on what you got right, and build on that to keep moving forward.
Take It One Step At A Time
If you’ve been dealing with feelings like these for years, they aren’t going to go away overnight. It’s going to take time for you to figure out how to rewire your thinking. So be a little kinder to yourself. Remember that you will make small mistakes now and again and that it’s okay.
If you’re currently experiencing Imposter Syndrome, what have you done to cope? Do you have any tips for those of us still dealing with it?