Combating Impostor Syndrome
Author: Michael Scaletti
Impostor Syndrome is a challenge that many of us face on a daily basis, and studies show that younger people, millennials and gen z, suffer from it at overwhelming numbers.
It is worth remembering that Impostor Syndrome is a real psychological issue, recognized by the APA, and it can absolutely wreck you emotional and mental well being. It is deeply tied to anxiety, stress, and depression.
So when you are struggling with feeling like a fraud, even and especially when your coworkers, friends, and managers have tried to reassure you that you are smart and talented and worthwhile and valuable, how do you handle those feelings and get to a place of self-confidence?
If you start seeing the symptoms of Impostor Syndrome in yourself, take these actions to help you overcome them.
Lean On Mentors
Having a professional mentor is an incredibly valuable asset for any worker, and those mentors can provide feedback on innumerable topics, not least of which is your value. Share your feelings with your mentors, both the feeling you think are rational, and those you think are less so. It is possible your mentor has dealt with similar feelings in the past, but even if they haven't, a good mentor will have a better perspective on your situation and can offer supportive and encouraging supervision.
Examine Your Strengths
It is important to examine and recognize your strengths and areas of expertise. Spend some time looking at what you are good at. If there are performance metrics that you can examine that can be very worthwhile. Also, see if you can tutor, teach, or mentor those who are not as experienced and qualified as you are in those categories. Imparting the knowledge and skills that you've gained to others can help you recognize and internalize just how valuable that knowledge and those skills are.
Be Forgiving to Yourself
No one is perfect. That's okay. Don't spend your time worrying about perfection. Instead, focus on consistent good quality work. In the long run that will be more valuable anyway. And remember that if mistakes are made they do not override or invalidate the successes that you've had.
Celebrate Your Success
It is absolutely okay, and encouraged, to take the time to celebrate where you have been successful. If you have received recognition for your accomplishments, take the time to enjoy that recognition! Try to internalize the fact that YOU are the one that made this project successful, that YOU made meaningful contributions. Not everything is going to be successful every time, so when things are, take the time to celebrate it.
Impostor Syndrome can both be a sign of other underlying issues, or can lead to them. One thing to remember is that having these feelings is not your fault, and there's nothing wrong with needing a little help. A licensed and qualified therapist or psychologist can help you gain the tools necessary to break out of a cycle of impostor thinking. These are tools you may not be able to acquire on your own. The most important thing about combating Impostor Syndrome is recognizing and internalizing your own value, and anything that helps you get there is worthwhile.
Impostor Syndrome is something that is often not recognized, and not taken seriously even if it is, in far too many professional environments. Remember that if you're feeling it, those feelings are real, and you're not alone. Feeling like a fraud shouldn't be your default state, and with the right help and techniques, it doesn't have to be.