There’s an imposter among us

First things first, I’m negative for COVID! Yay! As I said in my last post this is what I expected, but still happy to have the confirmation

Now for today’s topic–have you experienced imposter syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is defined as “is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.”

I have felt like this more and more lately, perhaps as a symptom of the pandemic and of job searching even before the pandemic. Job searching can be a very frustrating and disheartening experience. The more you get turned down, the more you think things like “I only got lucky with the jobs I do have or have had before” or “I’m not as good as this as I thought I was.”

I often have moments of identifying it as imposter syndrome, and then turning around and thinking “but what if I’m actually not competent, and I’m actually not good at this, and acknowledging this as imposter syndrome is misplaced confidence?” In job interviews and sometimes during jobs themselves, I’m often plagued with thoughts that I’m doing everything wrong. Sometimes I hesitate applying to jobs or even to volunteer for things in work situations because I worry in advance I won’t be good enough to do it (there are other reasons for hesitation as well, of course, but I can’t pretend this isn’t one of them.) Even as I write this, I’m pausing and thinking, “but what if I AM not good enough though.”

So what do I do about it?

This is so much easier to do when I experience a similar issue regarding health problems. If I have a day of wondering if I really have a migraine or this is just how everyone feels all the time, all it takes it me waking up the next morning clear headed to think “oh no, THIS is how it feels when you don’t have a migraine.” When my chronic stomach issues act up, I sometimes worry so much that people will think I’m making it up that I start wondering if I AM making it up…and then I’m in pain and it’s a reminder that no, I’m not making this up.

But how do you combat imposter syndrome?

Unable to come up with answers myself, I did what any self respecting person would do in 2021, and googled it. I found a list created by a woman who is an internationally recognized expert on imposter syndrome, and decided to go through it:

Break the silence:” I’m doing that right now.

Separate feelings from fact. There are times you’ll feel stupid. It happens to everyone from time to time. Realize that just because you may feel stupid, doesn’t mean you are:” I feel like this is easier said than done, in a way. I can acknowledge my feelings are irrational, but that doesn’t stop me feeling this way. Especially because I then turn around and think, well what if I AM wrong, or stupid?

Recognize when you should feel fraudulent…Instead of taking your self-doubt as a sign of your ineptness, recognize that it might be a normal response to being on the receiving end of social stereotypes about competence and intelligence:” I think this is common with women especially. There’s a joke I’ve heard about how we should hold ourselves with the confidence of a mediocre white man, and there’s some truth to that. Additionally, I haven’t shared a picture of myself here, but anyone who has seen me will tell you I look young for my age, and I sometimes worry that keeps people from taking me seriously, or I become unsure what people’s expectations for me are.

Accentuate the positive. The good news is being a perfectionist means you care deeply about the quality of your work. The key is to continue to strive for excellence when it matters most, but don’t persevere over routine tasks and forgive yourself when the inevitable mistake happens:” I’ve been trying very hard to work on this. When I write for work, I tell myself it’s a good thing that I take my time, and put work into it and edit over and over until I can say I’m happy with what I put out. And not to beat myself up the times I do make mistakes.

“Develop a healthy response to failure and mistake making:” This is a hard one, but as I have said before, I’m working on it. I just hate dedicating time to things when I feel like I didn’t do them well. This feeling multiplies when I’m applying for jobs, or even deciding what direction I should take work wise, because I don’t want to dedicate so much time and energy to something I may not succeed at, or something I don’t feel passionate about doing. I don’t want to make a mistake in choosing.

“Right the rules. If you’ve been operating under misguided rules like, “I should always know the answer,” or “Never ask for help” start asserting your rights. Recognize that you have just as much right as the next person to be wrong, have an off-day, or ask for assistance:” I have had jobs that basically make me feel guilty for asking for clarification or for help, so this is another I have to work on. I think the hard thing, with lists like this, is this is harder to achieve than it is to say. Should I be writing lists? Should I be convincing myself in the mirror?

Develop a new script. Become consciously aware of the conversation going on in your head when you’re in a situation that triggers your Impostor feelings. This is your internal script:” I might try and write out a chart for doing something like this. Just for me.

Visualize success. Do what professional athletes do. Spend time beforehand picturing yourself making a successful presentation or calmly posing your question in class. It sure beats picturing impending disaster and will help with performance-related stress:” As someone who has danced my whole life, I actually think this is the easiest step. It’s making it happen that’s the hard part!

Reward yourself. Break the cycle of continually seeking °© and then dismissing °© validation outside of yourself by learning to pat yourself on the back:” This is something I have been trying to do, especially with a lack of external validation due to COVID. I have to admit I always feel satisfied when I do get that validation though. The problem is, depending on that validation means that external criticism hits harder.

Fake it ‘til you make it. Now and then we all have to fly by the seat of our pants. Instead of considering “winging it” as proof of your ineptness, learn to do what many high achievers do and view it as a skill. The point of the worn-out phrase, fake it til you make it, still stands: Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Change your behavior first and allow your confidence to build:” This is absolutely the most difficult part for me. I’m not really a risk taker. I don’t take risks. I’m more likely to take risks physically than I am in any other areas. I’m not very spontaneous, and even planned, calculated risks are very difficult for me. I constantly worry–what if that was the wrong choice? What if I can’t go back? And then: what if all this worrying means I have wasted too much time? And then it goes again.

If you made it this far, thanks. This was a lot of rambling and not a lot of answers or solutions, but sometimes it just feels good to get thoughts in your head down on a page.

I’m working on it.