What is Imposter Syndrome?
I think we find it easier to underrate our skill and expertise. We’re afraid of our capability, especially in something that hasn’t happened yet. A big part of Imposter Syndrome is the fear of the future. The feeling of success due to luck rather than skill.
Imposter Syndrome is persistent anxiety about your qualifications; the feeling of your work being subpar. It happens to everyone. Right before taking a test or even pitching a million-dollar idea. It’s that feeling we have when we’re about to do something important, the feeling of feeling like a fraud. I remember feeling exactly like this the other day when I had to do something “important”. I felt scared that I wasn’t going to be able to do it, I felt inadequate. I asked myself if this was really for me.
Maya Angelou once said, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
It manifests in a host of context. From work to school to your faith and even in your relationships.
- You might feel like your work is not as good as others perceive it to be.
- You might feel you didn’t deserve a particular grade
- You might even feel inadequate to do something God called you to
- You might also feel that you’re not as good of a significant other as your partner affirms you to be
Personas Of Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome can leave you having to prove your self every time and on every project. You might not even enjoy the process of your work anymore if you keep trying to prove that you’re not a fraud. Eventually, this will lead to too much turn over time and over-emphasis on your work life. There’s room to balance both engaging ambition and excellence, and just enjoying life.
It can stop you from living and enjoying the moment. Imposter syndrome is one of the negative stories we tell ourselves, it can run like a never-ending feedback loop. When I put out an article I never think it’s as good as people say it is. I figure there’s something wrong and everyone else is lying when they say my writing is good. I mean how do you measure something like that? So how do they know? These are some of my thoughts. I have to take a step back instead and celebrate the small win of publishing the article.
Things To Think About
Think About Why You Experience It– I think there’s something good to be said about those who experience imposter syndrome. At the very least you care enough about your craft to care about its quality and perception. But why though? In the personas of imposter syndrome, we explore the different personalities that can have imposter syndrome but there are other external things that contribute to it. It can range from competitiveness to comparison to chasing an external level of confidence. It’s something worth thinking about.
The Real Solution is Time – Maybe time will help you build enough confidence to eventually overcome imposter syndrome. Or maybe it’ll become a kind of hedonic treadmill, there’ll be another type of imposter syndrome to deal with as a new level of confidence is attained.
Is The Voice Real? – I love how Anna Akana deals with negative self-talk. When a negative thought runs through her mind she repeats it to herself in a ridiculous voice to suppress its impact. Really think about the gravity of the voice. What happens if you talk back and question it? Will it hold up or eventually fade away?
We Are Too Hard On Ourselves – the inner critic is harder on ourselves than normal. This is the only time I’d advocate for seeking people’s opinions and validation. How do other people rate your work? The people that matter.
How To Deal With It
We all have limitations– Perfectionism is a bit delusional. Nobody can be mistake void. When we focus on perfectionism, we’re focusing on the wrong thing. Focusing entirely on the overall outcome and how it’s perceived can be incarcerating. I find that focusing on the immediate next step and how we can do that is more liberating.
Change the why of your craft– Are you working to be critiqued by others or to serve? This is how you change the type of response you want to evoke from others and how you receive this feedback. Feedback to someone whose intent is to serve will be found as a way of improvement while feedback to someone whose intent is seeking other’s validation can change the person’s view of their craft and skill.
Reframe Your Perception Of It– You are someways are an imposter when you do ambitious and important work, you’re doing work far above your capabilities. If you do everything you’re ready to do in your career, you’ll never do anything. The feeling of imposter syndrome comes when we’re on the verge of something great. “You feel that way because you are an imposter. And so am I. Because if you are doing work that hasn’t been done before, which means creativity and leadership, you can’t be sure it’s going to work. Because it’s never been done.” – Seth Godin
Your feelings are fleeting- Your feelings are not your identity. It’s a dangerous thing to be led by our emotions. Don’t do anything rash and just sit in them till it passes cause it will pass. Pay attention to the language you use to describe yourself. Focus on the truth of who you are. This truth can be reinformed by close people in your life or past things you wrote to and about yourself.
“Everything passes. Joy. Pain. The moment of triumph; the sigh of despair. Nothing lasts forever – not even this” – Paul Stewart
Leverage Relationships – Celebrate yourself and find cheerleaders that’ll celebrate you. Finding a cheerleader requires vulnerability. Sometimes you have to rely on people no matter how much you may not want. External parties have a lot more objective view of our work and craft. Allow them to reaffirm to you how good your craft really is and how capable you are.
Healthy Mind- Build a mind that empowers you instead of one that sabotages you. Set a different standard and way of thinking. My go-to is, “Quality Input=Quality Output”. Consume content that affirms you and your abilities. Hang out with people that are in awe of your work. And practice habits that build you up.
Focus on your Duty– You have a responsibility to everyone to share ideas. We build on the work of other people for other people. Seth Godin says it best:
“What I argue in The Practice is the only reason to do creative work is to ship it. And the only reason to ship it is to cause a change to happen. That if you would like to entertain yourself with your own work, I think that’s great. I’m hesitant to call that creative work. I’d rather call that an artful hobby. And I think there’s nothing wrong with those. We need lots of those. But if you’re shipping this creative work, you’re doing it for a reason, you’re taking up space, you’re taking up time, you’re intersecting with other people, why? To make a change happen. And that’s really hard for some people because they don’t want to be responsible. But if we’re going to put it into the world, we are responsible. We set out to make a change, here it is.”