Humans unlike most lower animals are aware of their impressions – and occasionally those thoughts scream BLOODY IMPOSTER!
The same thoughts have haunted me from the first day I decided to take up writing and photography as a career.
It’s called Imposter syndrome.
What Is The Imposter Syndrome And What Does It Look Like?
Imposter syndrome is the feeling of being unqualified – that your ideas are irrelevant or conventional and no one would listen to you; or worse, that they will listen and later find out that you are a fraud.
It’s like a wild voice in your head that says; “you’re one hell of a lucky fellow (to be where you are), and when your luck runs out, everyone will see you for the hack you are”.
And for that reason, you may suffer petrifying anxiety that stops you from doing what you should do – like hitting the share button or speaking to people about your ideas.
This is a very disturbing, and common feeling.
My friend who is a better writer than I suffer from it. He would always bemoan the quality of his ideas; how smart people wouldn’t want to read his works.
In so many ways the imposter syndrome has steered a lot of people away from their dreams into anxiety, doubt, and guilt trips.
Here are some ways it affects your performance at work (and most of your life).
How Can Imposter Syndrome Affect Your Life?
- You begin to perceive mistakes or failures as signs for you to quiet rather than opportunities to step up. Every little hiccup or setback in your path becomes a source of discouragement; in turn, hindering your growth or personal development.
- You become overly sensitive to criticism (and even believe them) because it would sound very similar to the negative thoughts in your mind.
- You might end up never sharing your talent or ideas with the world because you’re paralyzed by doubt; and how agonizing it would be that someday, someone else is recognized for that very same idea you thought was irrelevant or common.
- You sell yourself short by attributing all your achievements to luck or external factors which makes it near impossible for anyone to see your value, ingenuity, or effort.
- In time, you become a “human time bomb” waiting to go off the moment you feel fearful, are rejected, or get fired; because you’ve been waiting for it to happen. Rather than accepting all those as part of life – something even the best of the best experience every once in a while – you cling to it as evidence of your unworthiness – an opportunity to sabotage yourself for real.
These self-destructive impressions are dominant amongst young people, in the early stages of their careers – as professionals, creatives or entrepreneurs
Unfortunately, most people can’t tell when they have Imposter Syndrome.
For instance, in some situations, they could interpret their fear as humility, and timidity as carefulness. Does that ring any bell?
let’s try to clarify things, so you know what you’re dealing with
5 Ways To Know If You Have Imposter Syndrome
You most likely struggle with imposter syndrome if;
- You unreasonably compare yourself to others – by comparing where you are with where you ought to be.
- Your decisions and self-worth are easily influenced by mainstream or social media.
- You are always trying to be someone you are not – trying to be perfect to please the crowd.
- You are always afraid of putting out your ideas or work before the public because of what people may say.
- You feel you don’t deserve to be acknowledged in your profession or for your ideas because you feel like a hoax or scam.
If you notice any of this in yourself; easy buddy – don’t get a cardiac arrest by overthinking the situation. It proves that you are a human and more.
However, they are Impressions you must get control of; taking into account their triangular negative impact on your mental health, job performance, and occupational choices.
Here Are Some Ways To Overcome Imposter Syndrome:
- Don’t Lie: Be honest and humble about where you’re, the quality of your work or ideas, and learn what you must do to improve because there is no shortcut to long-lasting success. “Constantly Improve your skill level to match the standard of your field of work”. Soon enough you will be amazed at how unexpectedly you will be able to outdo the syndrome.
- Practice Positive Affirmations: As your confidence grows, you must understand that the imposter syndrome may persist. So, as often as you can, dismiss the thoughts by reaffirming positive words and taking pride in the effort you’ve invested.
- Don’t be a perfectionist; Time and again you hear that perfection is the ruin of growth and growth is far more important. Yes, I know it appears impressive to be flawless or the best in the room: but that leaves you at risk. The risk of never being satisfied with yourself, and your efforts; considering you’d always try to live up to unnecessary expectations; thus leading you to emotional and mental stress. Perfection is unattainable; go for continuous improvement since it is attainable and constructive.
- Don’t be quiet; Speaking out about this would not magically make you feel better but it’s helpful. Remember the time you spoke to a friend about a painful breakup or problems at home – how (s)he said something hilarious or witty, that made you feel relief at that moment; and every time you think about what (s)he said to you, a stream of comfort runs through your body. You tend to feel that way because most times, an honest conversation with a trusted friend can be aspirin to the aching mind or heart; and sometimes you even gain helpful advice or hacks. So, speak up.
- Don’t sell yourself short; you may have the habit of playing down your expertise because you want to focus on the work at hand. Of course, it’s noble and wise but not in every case. Occasionally you have to take compliments – toot your horn – highlight your worth and efforts. This strategy has a way of reinforcing positive pictures of yourself and gives you some level of momentum to do more. You don’t always want to look at how small you are compared to others, because just like the little hole in the cap of your ballpoint – which was designed to help prevent suffocation, just in case someone swallows it – you might just be that relevant with the things you do, in the office you occupy: a lifesaver. So, show your worth and enjoy the success that comes with it but always stay humble.
In light of this topic, always remember that your worth is not attached to the quality or quantity of your accomplishment. Just like a cub does not give out a false impression of being a lion.
It’s a lion by nature, despite its age, strength, or the intensity of its roar.
PPA & FAQ Section – The What, Why, And How Of Imposter Syndrome
What triggers imposter syndrome?
Multiple factors can trigger imposter syndrome, but largely it’s character traits (such as perfectionism); family background, or environmental factors.
What does imposter syndrome feel like?
It feels like self-doubt or fear. A feeling of incompetence that persists despite your education level, work experience, or career accomplishments.
Who is most likely to suffer from imposter syndrome?
Young people in their early-stage of careers and high achievers often suffer the imposter syndrome.
What are the five different types of imposter syndrome?
- The Perfectionist: These are people with unduly standards or expectations and if by chance they fail at it they drown in severe self-doubt and anxiety.
- The Expert: These are people who can’t get enough knowledge, experience, and awards. Despite the level of proficiency in their work they never get satisfied.
- The Natural Genius: These are people who judge their ability at the first trial. Because they expect things to feel right, easy, and quick at the initial attempt – when it doesn’t they feel like an imposter.
- The soloist: These are people who keep to themself. They revert from asking for help or assistance as they believed it would reveal them as charlatans.
- The Superhuman: These are the “Saviors” who want to save everyone – be in the center of everything – be responsible for everything. They can’t stand it when things are out of their control.
Why do people struggle with imposter syndrome?
Most people struggle with imposter syndrome because their entire mind is overridden by fear and doubts.
Is imposter syndrome psychological?
Yes; because it begins in the mind, although there is no clinical diagnosis for it.
Can you be confident and have imposter syndrome?
Not a chance; Imposter syndrome drains you of positive energy; such as Self-confidence and esteem; fills you with self-doubt and anxiety. The more confident you are, the less you feel like an imposter
Do successful people have impostor syndrome?
The Actress Maisie Williams, better known as Arya Stark; The scientists Albert Einstein; The Pop icon, Lady Gaga; and the Businessman and former Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, have all admitted to the imposter syndrome.
Is imposter syndrome just low self-esteem?
You can find a lot more in the box; Low self-confidence, anxiety, doubts; impaired work performance, and poor growth (if any).
Is imposter syndrome caused by low self-esteem?
On the Contrary low self-esteem is a by-product of imposter syndrome.
Is imposter syndrome a weakness?
Imposter syndrome isn’t the worst situation holding us back as presumed.
Those who identify their imposter syndrome can be inspired to be more thoughtful, empathetic, skilled, and better at asking questions and sharing information.
Any more questions? Leave it in the comments section and you’ll get a response.
Thanks for reading, and I hope this helps
A mindful self-help writer and photographer