You’ve heard of imposter syndrome before – every student of a professional or graduate program is briefed on its silent tenacity. You might remember sitting in a large auditorium listening in on your orientation of what the next few years of your life will look like, and what you should be wary of if you want to keep that in sight. Imposter syndrome occurs when the dreams and goals you envision conflict with the external pressures and expectations of the world around you.
Imposter syndrome refers to a state of disassociation where you no longer feel like yourself in respect to identity. “Who you are” and “what you are doing” are constant questions that plague the mind of someone facing the feelings of this phenomenon: insecurity, lack of self-fulfillment, perception of being alone, doubt in your successes and potential for future success. Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon because it is so common, especially in stressful environments where a lot of responsibility is placed upon an individual. You are that professional and this article is for you, even if already know what imposter syndrome is.
Steps to Confront Imposter Syndrome
1 – Recognize
Being in touch with yourself is the first step to finding your way back. If you are conscious of your physical and mental perceptions, then you can identify the pressures and anxieties that are manifesting into the “imposter” that is causing you so much torment.
2 – Reevaluate or Re-organize
You put yourself on this career path and you know why you are doing what you are doing. Your ambition and desire to find your way in life may have been difficult, but there has always been a sense of purpose and resolve to what you have done. If you find your persistence and motivation failing, talk to a mentor or friends who may have gone or may be going through the same thing. Use your network! It is easy to lose your way along the complex web of life, but you are not alone and there is nothing you can’t handle. Find empowerment and embrace everything that comes your way with the knowledge that you will figure it out. Whether that is continuing your current path (and you only need to find a new source of inspiration) or you are no longer happy in the work you are doing (and you just need to face the fear of the unknown and be creative in a new path).
3 – One Step at a Time
A major catalyst of imposter syndrome is the feeling that you aren’t living up to your full potential, that you haven’t found the success you were hoping to have achieved, or you don’t believe you ever will achieve that success. These are false expectations that lead you to feeling like an imposter to begin with, and it is impossible to be happy if you let the goals you have for yourself become expectations. Everyone makes mistakes, and sometimes the mistake isn’t even your fault to begin with, and yet regardless, you must push on. Even if you don’t know what you’re looking for or just haven’t found a way to get there, trust that you will. Trust the process, and more importantly, trust yourself.
Face it, or read, then face it
The fallacy that imposter syndrome encounters is it tells the story that you are a failure. The beauty of life is that you write your own story, and some even tell theirs to all the world. If you, or a friend, or someone you know is dealing with imposter syndrome, here are some books we found to assist you in your journey to self-fulfillment.
The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It
Whatever became of the most talented people you once knew? Sound interesting? Read, The Interestings
Dr. Bader looks at impostor syndrome with a clinical and psychological eye in his book, so if you’re looking for a less personal viewpoint and understand all sides of the issue, check out: Fear of Winning