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Let's talk about Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt like you don't quite belong somewhere? It could be in your group of friends or in your workplace, in school or at University.

Have you ever felt like it is only a matter of time until someone realises that you are not actually capable of doing the job you are employed to do or the activity you are engaging in? That you will be found out at any moment?

Perhaps you have felt like you don't deserve your place at University or the job role you hold.

You might feel like you are living on borrowed time.

You might feel like a fraud.

You might feel like an Imposter.

If any of this sounds familiar, you might be experiencing what is known as Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome can evoke feelings of anxiety and stress. You might experience thoughts that you are not good enough and feelings of inferiority. You might also worry about work/school/University, the workload, your performance or that you do not measure up in comparison to your colleagues or other students or even your friends.

Imposter Syndrome can affect anyone and it can be difficult to manage these constant feelings of anxiety and stress. You might feel disconnected from the people around you, unable to confide in anyone about how you are feeling because that would mean having to admit that you are doubting yourself and your abilities and that in itself can feel risky and scary.

What if whoever you confide in might actually agree?

What if you are found out?


So what actually is Imposter Syndrome?


The Oxford Languages Dictionary defines Imposter Syndrome as the persistent inability to believe that your own success is deserved or that you have genuinely achieved it on your own merits. In reality you might be highly thought of by others and have accomplished a lot (Psychology Today, 2023). But rather than acknowledging this, you might attribute your achievements to good luck, coincidence or the right timing (Psychology Today, 2023).

Imposter Syndrome can be debilitating and stop you from moving forwards or achieving your dreams and goals. It can have a negative impact on your self esteem and sense of self worth. You might also notice that it affects the way you interact with others around you, for example you might try to blend into the background in social situations or you might remain quiet in meetings, even though your mind might be bursting with great ideas.

Imposter Syndrome can be a stumbling block and an obstacle in your journey towards personal and professional growth.


So what can you do about Imposter Syndrome?


The first and perhaps the most important thing, is not to beat yourself up about experiencing Imposter Syndrome. We live in a very competitive and success driven world where targets are important and your performance is constantly measured (just think of exams, tests, performance reviews, work objectives, the list goes on). My point is that it is hardly surprising that you might feel like you're not measuring up or to experience feelings of inferiority. Perhaps it's time to give yourself a break.

Now that you are aware of your Imposter Syndrome, it might be useful for you to reflect on how you feel about yourself, your achievements, your work/school, friends and support network. Perhaps you're becoming aware of a constantly negative inner voice which might be reinforcing your feelings of inferiority.

Challenging your thought processes and negative feelings is not going to be easy and it might be a life long process. This might sound and feel daunting but it is important for you to remember that you do not have to believe the thoughts and feelings that your Imposter Syndrome triggers in you. For example, you might feel like you don't know what you're doing in your job but is that actually true? If you take a step back and look at your work objectively, would you still arrive at the same conclusion? Don't you think your manager might have mentioned something if you really weren't doing a good job instead of letting you carry on doing crappy work?

Another thing that might be contributing to your Imposter Syndrome is a tendency to be a perfectionist. Again, I'm using the world of work as an example but often being a perfectionist is not seen as a bad thing.


However, nobody is perfect. Nobody.


So by trying to be perfect or striving to do things perfectly, you are in effect setting yourself up for failure because perfection is not a realistic or achievable goal.

All of us are imperfect human beings.

So if you think that maybe you are a perfectionist and are constantly double and triple checking your work, it might be time to take a step back and to lower your expectations of yourself to a level that is more realistic and manageable. I know that this is easier said than done.

Be kind and patient with yourself.

Give yourself time.

Try to acknowledge and recognise your achievements.

You might never fully get rid off your Imposter Syndrome but you might learn to take back the power it is holding over you.

Don't be afraid to ask for help or seek out therapy if you feel like you might need more help with Imposter Syndrome and the feelings it evokes in you.

Remember there is no shame in struggling or in asking for help. And chances are there are probably people around you right now who have experienced Imposter Syndrome at some point in their lives.


You are not alone!


And in the spirit of not striving for perfection, here is a not so perfect picture I tried to take of a bee :)




References


Oxford Languages Dictionary (2023). Imposter Syndrome, https://google.co.uk/search?q=imposter+syndrome&source, accessed on 12.07.2023


Psychology Today (2023). Imposter Syndrome, https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/basics/imposter-syndrome%3famp, accessed on 12.07.2023

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