Have you ever heard of Imposter Syndrome – the horrible, confidence-squashing feeling that sneaks up on all of us? Most often this feeling manifests as the idea that you’re actually a fraud. If you’ve ever felt this, there’s a good chance that you are a high-achiever.
Imposter Syndrome is a stubborn and ongoing fear that people are going to “find out” and expose you as someone who doesn’t really know what they’re doing. It can sneak up at any time and destroy your confidence. It shows up in different ways for different people, but these are some common thoughts that may run through your mind if it’s present:
What am I doing here?
I don’t deserve this.
They’re going to find out
I’m going to be exposed.
I’m not as qualified as I should be.
I’m a fraud.
When will they realize I’m a one-trick pony?
Did they only hire to me to fill a diversity quota?
I’m not good enough.
Let’s get one thing straight from the beginning: you’re not an imposter. You’re a hard-working woman who has dedicated years of her life to creating an impressive career. You are trying to do something you believe in.
Not surprisingly, women exhibit Imposter Syndrome more than men. Men often attribute their success to timing (being in the right place at the right time) or good luck. Women, on the other hand, are socially taught to self-deprecate their accomplishments and to give praise outside of themselves.
Imposter Syndrome is not being humble. It’s quite limiting to the success of your career, both mentally and practically. Mentally, if you keep telling yourself that you don’t deserve to be in the room, soon or later you’re going to start believing it. If you believe that, you’ll stop putting in applications for better jobs or going for the higher promotion.
To avoid Imposter Syndrome, here are 6 helpful tips to push it aside and be your beautiful self:
[Note: This is not a typical list that requires you to go in a certain order. Read the list. Think about what could work in your life. Do that one thing. Then, pick another and do that. There is no one-size-fits-all solution to Imposter Syndrome.]
1. Provide value
Your job, especially at work, is to provide value. It doesn’t matter if you are working with clients, creating a tangible product, answering the phone, or cleaning the bathrooms. Your job is to do your job well, which is how you provide value. When you provide value, you are being a team player and contributing to your organization.
2. Avoid the comparison game
Iyanla Vanzant, self-help author and one of Oprah’s go-to speakers, believes that “comparison is an act of violence against the self.” Yes, this is a bold statement, but there is validity here. Comparing yourself to others is unfair to everyone involved and doesn’t look at the big picture. Focus on yourself and your talents – not those of others.
3. Remember that no one knows what they are doing
Seriously. Even the best-dressed woman with the perfect hair is probably dealing Imposter Syndrome. She’s also thinking about her CV, the tone of her last email, and debating how she should negotiate her next promotion.
4. You wouldn’t be there if you didn’t deserve it
You are where you are for a reason. You were hired for a reason. You aren’t lucky. You aren’t living from a trust fund. You worked hard for this, and you deserve to be where you are. Don’t discount your accomplishments. Recognize how smart and competent you are.
5. Remember, perfection isn’t real
Being a perfectionist is only making your life harder. Perfectionists work toward something that doesn’t exist.
Instead of striving for perfection, do your best. Work hard; give 100% effort into what you’re doing. But also accept that mistakes happen and changes in plans happen. Being a perfectionist isn’t going to cure Imposter Syndrome. If anything, it’s going to make it worse because then you’ll fear that people will find out that you’re not perfect…which you’re not. Don’t add fuel to the fire.
6. Keep track of your successes
Most of your successes are already logged in your CV, but you can do something on a daily basis to remind you just how successful you are. Write down all of your accomplishments in the week. At the end of the week, you’ll be able to look back and see just how much you did and how capable you really are.
It’s not vain to have self-esteem and confidence.
It’s ok to be intelligent and successful.
Knowing that you’re competent does not make you arrogant.
Imposter Syndrome may not be going anywhere, but there are ways to overcome it.
Today, choose one of these tips and do it. You deserve to feel confident and strong.