Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Woman's back standing in front of an audience. She is touching her hair.

Have you ever felt that, at any moment, everyone will realize that you’re not actually talented and that any success you’ve had is the result of a fluke or good luck? That, friends, is called impostor syndrome! Impostor syndrome feels like you’re moving through life as a hoax, knock-off or imitation, and could be revealed as such at any given moment. One thing we know for sure, is that feelings related to impostor syndrome are both very intense and very common (about 70% of us experience it). 

If you have difficulty accepting praise or compliments, feel that others in a similar position are somehow more qualified, undermine your achievements by attributing them to “luck”, or are anxious anytime someone mentions a mistake you made… you may be in the thick of impostor syndrome!

Impostor syndrome often affects perfectionists (who fixate on the tiny bit that isn’t perfect), people who thrive on independence, and people who are naturally bright. For example, if someone who is naturally bright all of a sudden needs help, they may question their intelligence. Impostor syndrome also causes feelings of anxiety. We might think "the only reason I passed that test was because I stayed up all night studying", or "the only reason people liked me at the party was because I memorized details about every guest in advance”. These ideas are not only untrue, but promote unhealthy habits. 

The great news is, you CAN absolutely overcome impostor syndrome! Here are some tools to help you get started: 1. Acknowledge your success. Really do it! Write a list of 50 successes you’ve had over the course of your whole life. Journal about you from the perspective of one of your mentors. You MUST own it! 2. Understand that mistakes happen. You are not defined by your mistakes! Mistakes are imperative on the journey to success! Own them, and use the information gained from the experience to redirect your path. 3. Refuse to let it hold you back! No matter how much you feel like you don’t belong, keep going, and carve your own authentic path to success. 

Experiencing feelings of doubt is so normal. Rewiring our brains around feelings of impostor syndrome takes time! The goal is to notice the feeling, calmly redirect it, and to not let your doubt control your actions. 

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