“Imposter Syndrome”. I’ve been seeing this phrase pop up all over my social media the past few weeks – “anyone got tips to help deal with imposter syndrome? xo”, “it’s an imposter syndrome kind of day”, “reaaaally feeling out of place at this conference #impostersyndrome”. Every time I see a Tweet or post like that, my stomach gives a little jolt of sickness, and my anxiety peaks and drops. I really feel for people who have had Imposter Syndrome latch onto them like a virus, because I’ve let it infiltrate my life, and I know how it feels.
The Imposter Monster
To me, Imposter Syndrome is personal; it’s doubting personal achievements and abilities, making you feel like a fraud for being in a space that you actually deserve to be in. It’s a secret little monster that latches onto your shoulder and whispers all of your fears into your ear. My Imposter Monster doesn’t stick to one event or circumstance; he feels very comfortable talking to me at any varied occasion. He was there when I walked into my first Masters lecture, when I sit at my desk at work, when I attend conferences, and even when a blog post does well! Most recently, he kept rattling around in my head when I was on holiday; telling me that I hadn’t worked hard enough to be there, that friends and colleagues at home will think me a slacker and a fraud.
Despite the Imposter Monster popping into existence like an annoying genie I certainly did not ask for, I’ve been getting much better at shutting him out and pushing him to one side. It hasn’t happened overnight, but I’ve started to learn when my mind has a serious concern, or if it’s the anxiety fuelled Imposter Monster dropping in to cause me upset (and most of the time, it’s just the anxiety fuelled Imposter Monster dropping in to cause me upset).
Everyone has experienced Imposter Syndrome
At some point or the other in their life, everyone has felt that drop in the stomach, the nervousness rising, and the thought of “oh no, I don’t belong here”. And if they say they haven’t, they are a) either lying, or b) an extremely over-confident soul. Albeit, some people experience Imposter Syndrome more than others, and for a variety of reasons. For some folks, it’s a one off occurrence, and never crosses their minds again; and for others, it pops up every day of their life. So take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and think “I am not alone in this”.
Recognise your achievements
Got that Imposter Monster whispering in your ear? Remember that you deserve to be in the space you have worked hard to get to. For me, I still get baffled by the fact I managed to get a job straight after graduating, in a field I am interested in, and in an establishment I love! So when I feel the Monster clench it’s claws into my shoulder, and start telling me that “someone else would do this job much better than you, your colleagues all see you for the child that you are…”, I think of everything I did to get to where I am. I worked hard at University in my studies and extracurricular world, led societies and teams, worked three jobs at the same time, graduated with a degree in a subject I love, I honed my skills along the way, and I absolutely bossed my interview! Yes, I deserve to be where I am, because I worked hard to get there. It’s important to remind yourself of that, in the low moments, and in the high ones too. Celebrate yourself!
Fake it til you make it
I thought that this was just a nonsense saying, batted around like nobody’s business; I didn’t expect it to become a full on mantra. On one of those days, where you wake up in the morning, the Imposter Monster has already made its home in your head, and you cannot shake him loose; fake it til you make it. Going to work? Put on your best office outfit, nice shoes, and have the breakfast of champions. Make a coffee, take it to work, sit at your desk and do the best you can. You may not feel the part, but you are looking it and doing it. Working on your blog? Pretend to be the Insta-blogger of your dreams. Get your butt to a coffee shop, order a drink that makes you happy, and get to work on what you need to do. You may not feel how you would like to, your anxiety may be pumping and the monster may be whispering, but by faking it on the outside, you are pushing through and doing it. And I can guarantee, more people than you know are actually faking it til they make it.
It’s sad that Imposter Syndrome has become such an ingrained part of our lives, whether that be personal, work, or our online ones. In the same way that it takes time for the Imposter Monster to grow, through anxiety and negative thoughts, it will take time to learn how to shake him off. But, it is doable. Remind yourself of your worth, celebrate your achievements, and remember – it’s okay to fake it til you make it.
Drop me a comment about how you deal with Imposter Syndrome – I know it’s not a one-fits-all kind of situation! You never know, you may end up helping someone out.