Starting off a little heavy, I know.
But hear me out for a minute...
I am not saying it's fake or that anyone needs to "suck it up" (P.S. I hate that saying, but I will save that story for another day). Your feelings are REAL and I am not here to invalidate that. However, it's BS because it is defined as being a perception of yourself.
Imposter Syndrome is a fraudulent feeling of intellectual inadequacy despite any and all of your successes and expertise.
We convince ourselves that we are not deserving or cut out for some of the things we accomplish and it makes success feel SCARY.
"What if I F it up?"
"I just got lucky"
"I did well on this task this time but, I am sure I'll screw it up next time."
"It wasn't actually that difficult"
"There are so many people who have done it SO much better"
"I'm good but not great."
Sound familiar? Hopefully not. These are all things I have said to myself at some point, and probably recently. Well, I am here to remind you (and mostly myself) to CUT THE CRAP. Most of these things are stemmed from comparison or fear. You work your butt off trying to get a job you REALLY want and then you get it!! You are so excited and proud of yourself for juuust a moment. Then what?? The doubt comes trickling in and you tell yourself that it wasn't that competitive, or there probably weren't other qualified candidates or, this job isn't actually that good or sought after. These are lies we tell ourselves to downplay our hard work and credibility.
Why 70% of the population (via Forbes) feels this perceived inadequacy is no simple question. From environmental factors to lifestyle to family life in adolescence, the list could go on, but we can all rejoice in the fact that it does not define us. Our wins, big and small, are still wins, even when we feel like a fraud of success.
SO, let's turn this around a little. In the Forbes article previously mentioned (linked here) author Jeanne Croteau lists the types of Imposter Syndrome, pulled from Dr. Valerie Young. I encourage you to look at this list and determine which feels most fitting for you, or simply take a look to gain a better understanding.
- The Perfectionist - They have such high expectations for themselves that even small mistakes will make them feel like a failure.
- The Superwoman/Superman - They put in longer hours, never take days off and must succeed in all aspects of life in order to prove they are the “real deal.”
- The Natural Genius - They are used to things coming easily, so when something is too hard or they don’t master it on the first try, they feel shame and self-doubt.
- The Soloist - They don’t like to ask for help, so when they do, they feel like a failure or a fraud.
- The Expert - They continuously seek out additional certifications or training because they feel as though they will never know enough to be truly qualified.
Now that you have a better idea of where this false feeling comes from, let's try out some things that can help you move past it.
First, create an "Empty-Bucket List" (yes I did just make that up. If you think of a better name for it let me know). This list is all of the things you HAVE done instead of what you want to do. Start small and don't over-think it. Here are a few from mine:
- Graduated High School
- Successfully ended unhealthy relationships
- Pulling myself out of dark places mentally (and even asking for help at times!)
- Graduated College
- Started a new business venture amidst a pandemic
- Choosing to be financially smart without letting money control my happiness
- Continuing to work on my relationship with money - thanks Jen Sincero
Second, journal. I know not everyone likes to journal but writing down your thoughts gives you a much clearer perception about why you feel them and if you are just experiencing a lot of negative self-talk. What I like to do is just do a mind dump about what I am anxious about and why - really let it all out. Then I stop, read it over, analyze. Why did I feel so worked up? Are those emotions benefitting me? I usually conclude it with a positive takeaway from the experience and something to remember next time I feel like this. Ending it on a good note is, in my experience, the best way to benefit from journaling.
Third, action step: Do not let the fear of starting stop you. It is both scary and beautiful, focus on the beauty and remind yourself of your sweet little Empty Bucket List.
Go easy on yourself, some days are really tough and that's just life as we know it.