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You landed your dream job, but now you're not sure you earned it. It seemed like it was everything you wanted when you applied for it, but now that you're here, a nagging voice inside you is telling you that it's all a big mistake. There's a name for that negativity you're feeling-it's called impostor syndrome.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Impostor syndrome is when you start believing that you are a fraud and your achievements are undeserved. You feel inadequate, dismissing your success as a product of pure luck or an accident, and get harder on yourself with each passing day. Your constant fear is that you'll soon be found out and they'll quickly strip you of everything, then kick you shamefully out the door. Impostor syndrome makes you doubt that you excelled because of your hard work, a mindset that can be debilitating not only to your productivity on the job but in every aspect of your life. Unfortunately, things are only bound to get worse the further you progress in your career.
If you are currently suffering from impostor syndrome, know that you're not alone-70 percent of people experience it. Most of the time, people with this syndrome fail to realize their actual competence because their sense of inadequacy clouds their judgment. Don't let it take hold of your life. You need to do something about your impostor syndrome now. Here's how to overcome it and regain control.
1. Remember, You're Not Alone
It's worth repeating that it's quite normal to feel that way at some point in life. Virtually everyone thinks that they're punching above their weight class, so to speak. Take comfort in the fact that many people feel the same way you do. They may even be your colleagues or your manager. Imagine that they're feeling like an impostor right now-do you see them looking hesitant or unsure of themselves? Chances are, they don't. You can be the same way.
2. Acknowledge Your Negative Thoughts
Once you accept that what you're feeling is normal, the next step to combatting your disapproving thoughts about yourself is to acknowledge them. Tell yourself something like, "I know I'm not feeling so self-confident right now, and that's making me sad." You need to evaluate your emotions and triggers so you'll know your emotional state of mind. Once you embrace your negative feelings, you'll be better equipped to do the next step.
3. Accept that Your Success is the Fruit of Your Labor
Sometimes, the impostor syndrome is brought about by the inability to internalize one's achievements. You were given a break that wasn't made available to others, and so no success that comes after receiving that break feels deserved. Life's not always fair, that much is certain. But you have to realize that you actually put in the time, effort, and investment to get where you are. It may help to remind yourself of your past achievements. Reflect on every milestone worth mentioning, and remember all the hard work you put in to achieve them. Accept the fact that you are the one responsible for getting yourself where you are, and nobody else. You earned your position, and your past accomplishments are your proof.
4. Get to the Bottom of Your Impostor Syndrome
Sometimes, before you can accept your role in your own success, you must first assess yourself and discover where your feeling of inadequacy comes from. According to Imposterhood, both nature (e.g. neuroticism) and nurture (e.g. perfectionist parents) - or the combination of both can cause or influence impostor syndrome. Sometimes, the feeling can lie dormant and be triggered by a life situation. So are you neurotic by nature? Did your parents constantly urge you to do better? When did you start feeling that you were not good enough? The answers to these questions can help you arrive at the source of your nagging issues.
4. Talk to Someone Who Can Understand
It can help to share what you're going through with someone close to you. When you have someone who understands-or better yet, someone who can relate-it can help ease the burden of what's bothering you. You can talk to family and friends, or if you prefer, you can seek professional help. Either can give you an honest evaluation and reassure you that you are more than qualified. Most people who have impostor syndrome are afraid of opening up, but if talking to someone can lessen your problem's hold over you and put your fears to rest, then it's something worth trying, don't you think?
5. Stop comparing yourself
When you compare yourself to someone who's doing immensely better than you, you may start to believe that your life is such a letdown when compared to them. Don't fall into the comparison trap. This means don't use somebody else's life to gauge how well you're doing with yours. It's good to have someone to aspire to, but the moment you let envy gain power on you, that's when your negativity will rear its ugly head. Instead of focusing on others' successes, focus instead becoming the best you can be. You'll be that much more self-assured.
6. If all else fails, quit
Sometimes, even after fighting the good fight, the enemy will still be right in front of you, standing strong. In such cases, it may be better for you to run so you can live to fight another day. Perhaps taking a leave of absence or resigning from the job can help clear your mind and put you back on the right track. The time off can help you reevaluate your life and figure out what and where you really want to be. Work on developing your self-worth so whatever your next job may be, you'll feel assured that it belongs to you and no one else.
Impostor syndrome is not the end of the world. There are a lot of things you can do to suppress it, even eliminate it altogether. Use the tips above to combat it and move forward in your career with the assurance that you deserve every victory that comes your way.