I Was The Poster Child For Impostor Syndrome
I was the receptionist at a local television station, hungry and naive but with a good attitude. Fortuitously, a year later, the nightly news director offered me a job as a writer on the news team. He thought the phone messages I left for him were “always so well written and concise” and felt I was a fit.
I barely knew anything about writing the words a news anchor would read to the watching millions. Being in the right place at the right time was how I rationalized my luck. The only writing I’d done were essays in school and college. Often I kept asking myself, “do I deserve to be here?” I was a poster child for impostor syndrome.
What Exactly Is Impostor Syndrome?
Well, do you have repeated thoughts you haven’t rightfully gained your job or an award? Do you fear being outed or exposed for not being as talented or enough in your career? You may be experiencing the phenomenon known as Impostor syndrome.
So what exactly is impostor syndrome? Impostor syndrome is best described as the fear of being considered a fraud or doubting one’s accomplishments. Even those who have reached a level of success in their chosen field are often full of anxiety and crippling thoughts of being considered a fraud. According to the Journal of Behavioral Science, it is estimated that 70% of people in the U.S. experience impostor syndrome.
“I still sometimes feel like a loser kid in high school and I just have to pick myself up and tell myself that I’m a superstar every morning so that I can get through this day and be for my fans what they need for me to be,” Lady Gaga confessed in an HBO special.
Impostor syndrome (IS) is an internal feeling that you believe you are not as qualified as others may think you are. This is often connected to thoughts of perfectionism and can be applied to your intelligence or achievement. If you have feelings of being a fraud or that you did not deserve that raise, then you could be dealing with impostor syndrome.
Four Characteristics of Impostor Syndrome
Those who suffer from impostor syndrome doubt their skills and accomplishments despite the evidence of their success. Below are four common indicators you may be dealing with impostor syndrome.
- Deep-seated feelings of fear that you aren’t able to meet expectations.
- Undermining your achievements even when you worked diligently towards that goal.
- Setting unrealistic goals and then feeling disappointed if you do not meet those goals.
- Doubting yourself no matter what you’re working on or working towards.
If you recognize any of the above, you have joined the elite group of being an impostor poster child. But, not to worry, there are some things you can do to move past these feelings. Begin by confronting your feelings and any beliefs you hold about yourself. If you struggle with any of this, consider speaking with a professional or close friend. Confiding in someone can help you gain clarity on your feelings and beliefs.
Impostor syndrome can be ingrained in you as a child and continue well into adulthood. Struggling with feelings of being a fraud can happen to anyone but is seen mostly in successful women. According to research done with Psycnet.apa.org, “despite their outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the impostor phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise.”
How Do You Know You Suffer From Impostor Syndrome?
So, how do you know if you suffer from impostor syndrome?
Let me know in the comments below if you see any of these five signs in yourself:
- You think you are a fake. You think “I’m afraid my colleagues will discover how little I know.” You fear being found out and having your perceived phoniness revealed.
- You lack confidence. When showing your accomplishments, you never speak up or contribute, because you are afraid of being seen as silly or ignorant.
- You downplay your knowledge, abilities, or skills. You feel you are not enough so you’re always upgrading your skills, with numerous certifications and diplomas so you can show others.
- You are a perfectionist: You look over every single detail, and check your emails, papers and exams time after time to ensure they are perfect. Naturally, you never feel they are perfect, so you must be incompetent.
- You are a people pleaser. To need to be validated so, you focus more on doing what others want and expect.
You can remove impostor syndrome by first recognizing it in your life and seeing how it is affecting you. Progressively work towards breaking those limiting beliefs by thinking of the quality of work you are performing versus the quantity.
If someone pays you a compliment, remind yourself that it is a fact and that you deserve it. Begin to recognize your successes and take time to celebrate the wins in your life. Eventually, your inner voice will support your new positive thoughts so you can overcome the feelings of impostor syndrome.
They may believe about themselves, “I can give the impression that I’m more competent than I really am” or “I’m afraid my colleagues will discover how little I really know.” They fear being unmasked and having their perceived phoniness revealed.
Impostor syndrome can cause the strongest and most successful individuals to feel like they are not good enough. This syndrome has a negative effect on all areas of your life. So take time to assess where you are and what you can do to move forward in your life.
Despite the numerous praises from my team in the television newsroom for my contribution, I still felt I didn’t belong there and was an “eager beaver” to do everything asked of me, and more. I still didn’t feel I was up to par with the rest of my team, despite my taking every writing course offered in my city. I was the poster child for imposter syndrome that first year I wrote for the news.
I allowed stress and worry to fill my life until my news director,(the same one who had faith in me,) who called me “a natural writer” became my mentor. I am forever indebted to him for his foresight, wisdom, patience, and shaping of my career — and mostly for helping to banish my perceived feeling of being an impostor.
After four years of writing for television, I left to work for a national newspaper.
I am no more an impostor syndrome poster child. But, the feeling of being an impostor does raise its head now and then, but I have learned how to manage it and banish it from my mind. But that is for another post.
Be confident, be bold, and know that Impostor syndrome does NOT have to hold you back.
You can own your own greatness!
“You are not “not good enough”.
You are just not seeing clearly enough, not trying hard enough, and not trusting yourself enough.
— Emma Xu
In “Impostor Syndrome: How to Stop Feeling Like an Imposter, Overcome Self-Doubt, and Re-build Your Confidence at Work and in Life” I share an imposter self-test, how to deal with impostor syndrome, how to keep it away for good, and much more. You can get it here.
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I’m Donna SLam, who loves to blog about how meditation brings self-compassion, peace of mind, and clarity to my life and others by sharing tips and strategies to live a fulling and purposeful life. I enjoy championing others to lead a healthy and happy life through meditation, walking, self-development, and spending time with loved ones.