What is an imposter syndrome?





It’s not who you are that holds you back
It’s who you think you’re not.

Hanoch McCarty

Day 1

Wow, that’s amazing. I want to work on it. I have the skills to accomplish the project. Let me go and ask the concerned person and work on it. Hm… Do I need to learn more about it? I think I will read a book and take up a course and learn more before discussing it.

Day 10

Yes, I know things. But someone may know it better. Should I go and ask? It’s okay, let me do it sometime later. Maybe next time. I may not be that good actually, would take up something else.

Day 20

Oh, I should have done it. Why do I wait like this? After doing all the needed things, learning what is required, I missed asking. I think I am very good at procrastination. No idea! Why do I behave like this? Let me focus on the things at hand. The situation goes on.
—- —- — —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —- —-
Have you ever faced such situations? When it happened, I was taking it as procrastination that I would have got caught up. Little did I thought about my behavior from any other angle till I came across a LinkedIn training on Women leadership.

Imposter Syndrome indicates the collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. The self-doubt and a sense of intellectual artifice override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. It becomes difficult to accept and appreciate their accomplishments, though they are successful in their field. Research says that it is majorly evident in women though it is not limited to a specific gender.

This syndrome can catch hold of anyone. Many a time, even top singers and actors or highly successful people may also fall prey to it. So the imposter syndrome is not directly linked to low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence.

How does one get this?

How and where you have brought up may have some influence on it if you are stuck with this syndrome for a long time. But possible to get it in adulthood after some incident or specific situation. The behavior of the people around you may also push you into this syndrome. It may catch you in your workplace, within a friend circle, or even at home.

In my case, after a good stint of success at work, I came across some weird situation and got stuck with it. I was not prepared for it mentally as it was unexpected. I felt let down and lost. Though I faced the situation bravely and behaved as if nothing much happened, now I realize that it would have left a scar on my mind.

It made me think and take my previous success as fake, made it difficult to believe I can do better. Made it difficult to make decisions, say No when required. I started avoiding taking risks and challenges, which were of great interest to me earlier. I did not want to get noticed.

I thought that I have been procrastinating way too much and tried to overcome it with some action earlier. But it didn’t work. I understand it better now. Maybe I was not successful in my attempt as I wasn’t aware of this hidden feeling that was putting me under serious self-doubt and self-criticism.

Symptoms

  • You may do your work with over-concentration and commitment so that you would not fail in that task. Get stressed about the work unnecessarily.
  • If you achieve or do substantially well in something, you may feel anyone can do it, though it is not a simple task.
  • You may find it difficult to take any decision or disagree when needed due to induced self-doubt.
  • You may attribute your current or past achievements to the luck factor.
  • You may feel that it is not a big deal to achieve what you have done or accomplished.

How to overcome it?

  • Awareness is the first step towards coming out of imposter syndrome. Observe and track those feelings. Check whether any of your friends or family members are facing it too.
  • Talk about it -Discussing it with others will let more light on it. You may get to know about other’s stories and how they could help themselves.
  • Remember that it is momentary, and you can overcome it. Feeling useless or not capable won’t last long. These thoughts and feelings have nothing to do with your potential.
  • Get started with your journey to find a way to get back to yourself.

Do you have any strategy that worked for you or any known people? I am trying my way with the points mentioned here. Recognized it and writing about it. Thanks to Carolyn Goerner for making me aware of Imposter syndrome. It was a trigger for me to think about my behaviors, observe how I got changed over time, and identify the root cause. Now I am on my way to retrieve myself, my original self.

—Anitha KC

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