It’s one of those things that bother me more than most.
The constant nagging thought that I’m pretending to be someone I’m not. That I’m in a room full of individuals who think I’m an expert at something, when in reality, I’m just pretending to know what I’m talking about. That they probably know more. And that sooner or later I’ll be found out. These thoughts can turn up at any time, but more often than not, they show up during the bad days. Days where work is slow, days where you’re struggling to close the next deal, days where you haven’t had any positive human interactions. But then, even during good days, when someone sends a compliment my way at a rather vulnerable time, I often find myself wondering if that person really meant it, or was there some other thought behind it, because it couldn’t possibly actually be true.
What a shitty way to feel about your own self worth.
It wasn’t until recently that I started reading up more about it. And to my surprise, Imposter Syndrome is real, and a little too common. Research shows that almost 70% of people have felt it at some point in their lives. Even people like Einstein, Tina Fey & Maya Angelou were known to doubt their accomplishments.
I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.– Maya Angelou
The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.-Tina Fey
And that got me thinking. If people with such high accomplishments still doubted the validity of where they were and the praise they received, what chances did the rest of the world really have?
So I did the only thing I could, I read more, and more. And here are some steps that are widely recommended, that have personally helped me.
- Talk about it. Read about it. Know that you’re not alone.
- Realise if you’re holding yourself to impossibly high standards and perfectionism.
- Be kind to yourself. Be conscious of negative self talk. Catch yourself in that moment when you start doubting whether you’re good enough. Try to change it to a positive affirmation instead.
- Ask for feedback. Sometimes, this just helps appease that negative voice in your head doubting everyone and everything around you.
- Understand what this is, so you can learn to live with it, and deal with it better. Because this isn’t going to magically disappear overnight, but it can be handled in a way that it affects you less.
I find myself working on this more and more. It ties back to why I have trouble with labels. Designations. Calling myself a writer. This shows up in the weirdest of places in the sneakiest of ways.
Recognising it is the first step.
What about you? Have you ever felt this way?