So, you’ve finally made it. You’re seemingly thriving in your career, you’re happily in love, and people keep telling you things like “You seem to have everything figured out.” People come to you for advice because you’ve somehow taken on the role of the expert. But then there’s that nagging voice in the back of your head that says “They’ve got me all wrong and someday they’ll find out that I’ve been faking it all along.”
Impostor syndrome is a surprisingly common phenomenon where people have a gut feeling that they’re a fraud, and that it’s only a matter of time before they’re exposed. If you’re an overachiever or a perfectionist, there’s a good chance you’ve had those thoughts before too. Have you ever wondered how you got to where you are and feel like the universe made a mistake? That’s impostor syndrome.
Now I don’t say any of this to #humblebrag, but want to give you all an example of my own struggles with impostor syndrome. Real talk– it’s good for ya.
When I graduated with my Master’s, I managed to snag a job as soon as I moved home. It wasn’t long before other therapists in my office started coming to me (ME?) with their questions, wanting my input, and seeing me as an expert. In my head, I thought “Well that’s only because the turnover here is so high and I’ve been here for longer than most. Soon they’ll realize that I have no idea what I’m talking about.”
That day never came. In less than a year, I left that job and started a new one, where I was fairly confident that I would finally have that “small fish” feeling– that I was surrounded by a bunch of experts and people wouldn’t turn to me and make me out to be this professional that I didn’t feel like I was.
(Related reading: What I Discovered when I Quit my First Job after 10 Months)
But that didn’t really happen either. People would tell me what a great therapist I was, and here I was thinking “how the heck did I get here? People are definitely going to see right through me. I’m going to slip up and do something wrong and then everyone will know that I’m not actually good at all.”
In fact, this self-depreciating thinking drove me to take a class to become a counseling supervisor, so I actually had the education to back up the way that people thought about me. And it helped– to some degree. I still feel like, in many ways, people see me as a much better therapist than I actually believe that I am. But I’m working on it.
(Related reading: Breaking the Cycle of Social Comparison)
Impostor syndrome is a tough habit to break, especially when social media likes to remind us of all our inadequacies. Social media, of course, typically only shows one side of people– the best side. So when we are constantly exposed to the best side of everyone we know, it causes us to believe that our strengths are perfectly average. That there is nothing extraordinary about us. That we’re faking it.Impostor syndrome causes us to believe that our strengths are perfectly average. Click To Tweet
Impostor syndrome makes you believe that you are nothing special, and sooner or later, everyone will come to see the truth for themselves. But the truth is, you do matter. If you’re living an authentic life, you are not a fraud. You are actually as amazing as people believe you are!
How to Survive Impostor Syndrome
It has to start with you
You can’t control anyone else’s attitude but yours, so start there. Every time you make a comment about how you’re not cut out for _______, tell yourself why you are. Remind yourself of your achievements. You’ve proven that you’re capable to others, now prove it to yourself. Call impostor syndrome what it is and free yourself from the burden of worrying that you’re a fraud.
Keep a compliments journal
Every time someone compliments you, write it down and flip through it on the days where the self-doubt is real. Any time you start to doubt yourself, read back on how many people believe in you.
Check the facts
What’s the evidence? If you’re really as much of a fraud as you think you are, try to prove it to yourself. If there’s no evidence, good. It’s just impostor syndrome. If there is evidence, now you know where to improve.
If you really feel like you’re not cut out for the job, tell someone. Find support, and take it upon yourself to improve. Find someone you trust who can help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses, and who will hold you accountable to make changes. When other people know that you’re trying to make improvements, you’re more likely to keep working toward your goals.
Play to your strengths
Stop focusing on what you’re not so hot at, and start focusing on the things you know you rock at. When you pay attention to your strengths, you’ll be less focused on your insecurities.
The more you try to fight against impostor syndrome by faking it, the more like a fraud you’ll feel. If you live authentically, you’ll worry less about whether or not you fit in, you’re good enough, or you’re smart enough. People respect realness, and authenticity attracts authenticity. Authenticity attracts authenticity. Click To Tweet
All of us have been there at one point or another. Everyone has had periods of feeling as if they didn’t fit in, or that they weren’t good enough. Everyone wants to be appreciated for who we really are. We are all trying to find our way through this world. Let’s do it together. We are all trying to find our way through this world. Let's do it together. Click To Tweet
Have you struggled with impostor syndrome? What have you done to fight it? Let me know in the comments!
Don’t forget to connect with me on social media!