Impostor syndrome

the beast to beat

Many of us have found ourselves hesitating about our professional skills or talent. Sometimes when it comes to self-esteem we can’t but ask ourselves if it is real. Is it really me, who is so much beloved and respected or they just haven’t realized it yet?

It has been estimated that nearly 70% of individuals will experience signs and symptoms of impostor phenomenon at least once in their life. This can be a result of a new academic or professional setting. Research shows that impostor phenomenon is not uncommon for students who enter a new academic environment.

Impostor Syndrome often strikes at moments of success: starting a new job, receiving an award or promotion, or taking on extra responsibility such as teaching others, starting your own business, or becoming a first-time parent.

Despite the fact that having Impostor Syndrome means you are entering a new stage or environment and improving, it might also provoke various negative feelings that could lead to not very pleasant consequences such as low self-esteem and even depression.

This week we will look at it a bit closer and see if it is really as scary as we think of it.

JASON SALTZMAN founder and CEO at Alley shared his experience of having Impostor Syndrome.

It doesn’t really matter how great, genius and professional one is, they can still feel hesitating and weird about being on their places.

Jason’s tips on how to deal with Impostor Syndrome:

  • focus your anxious energy by making yourself legit

  • remember that you're not alone

  • if you fall, pick yourself back up

  • believe the cliched idiom: 'fake it 'till you make it.'

    You think I was born knowing how to manage a team of hundreds? Absolutely not.

How I overcame my Impostor syndrome // real experience

Hey everyone! This is Sasha :-) you may remember my The Brain review.

I hope you are fine. Somehow a lot of my friends and I had a kinda emotional breakdown recently and when I overcame it, I realized that it is important to share my experience for you to know how to deal with it if you feel the same. 

I felt pretty weird. Every time I did something – anything, like doing my job, writing something, whatever – I started hesitating. I thought I did everything wrong, I didn't have skills and as a consequence right to do it. It seemed people around me just didn't see I was a fraud and just pretended that I knew what I was doing. I thought I just lucked out to be here. That I didn't deserve the people I was with, the job I was doing, even the salary I got. 

There is no need to say that this thought did not do me any good. This was a mental problem and it prevented me from productive work and a happy life. I felt like a drama queen and wanted to get rid of this feeling as soon as possible. 

I hate periods of self-doubt. That's why I decided to do research and figure it out. So, I went online. Impostor syndrome. That is the thing. That is the name of the beast that ate away at me. 

 It turned out that an estimated 70% of people (what a relief I was not alone!) experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives, according to an article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science. Anyone can be subjected to it – no matter what gender or type of personality you are. 

The main symptom of this syndrome is the idea that you've only succeeded due to luck, and not because of your talent or qualifications. Impostor feelings are linked to other feelings of self-doubt, such as fear of success, fear of failure, or even self-sabotage. It mostly strikes at moments of success, when a person starts a new job, or receive an award or promotion, or takes on extra responsibility such as teaching others. These feelings can inspire a person to work harder, so as not to be "unmasked," leading to further success and recognition – and feeling like an even bigger fraud. However, they can lead to "downshifting." This is when a person revises your goals and become less ambitious, which in turn, prevents from fulfilling true potential. That's why it is so important to defeat. Nothing should ever stop us!

Recognizing that you have Impostor syndrome is often the hardest part. Many people believe that the alternative is to become boastful and self-important, but this needn't be the case. By the way, if you want to check whether you have this syndrome, you can take this test

How I overcame these feelings

1) acknowledgment 

First of all, I acknowledged the thoughts, let them be in my head and asked myself - "Do these thoughts help or hinder me?" In some cases, these thoughts did me right. I started learning more about the subject I was working with and they helped a lot. But in some they stopped me from making fast decisions that could be rather beneficial. 

2) I asked myself why I feel this

The answer was on the surface: I communicate with really smart people all the time and don't have enough knowledge (and as a consequence, self-confidence) to keep the conversation or to work with them. But …. don't I? Do I really have insufficient knowledge to do what I do? And what of it? I can always learn and ask for help. I know that I am afraid to sound dumb, but have I ever thought that a person is stupid when they ask me to explain something? Never! So, what's the crap? Why would others do it all of a sudden? 

3) I reframed my thoughts

Said to myself that there is nothing that a person cannot learn. I just need to stop being afraid to seem stupid. Because I am not. And you are not. 

If you ever feel like a fraud – talk about it (even here in comments). And remember – you are not alone. 

 If you need some more motivation, I do recommend you to watch this video – one more example of a successful person with the same earthly matters.

That’s all by now. Stay amazing <3