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Feeling Like an Imposter?

Casey Mazzotti

June 10, 2021

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If you're feeling self-doubt and wondering if you're actually qualified to be doing the work you're doing, you're not alone. You may be experiencing what's commonly referred to as "imposter syndrome".

What is Imposter 'Syndrome'?

Imposter "syndrome" is a commonly-discussed phenomenon in which people grapple with feelings of self-doubt, especially in the workplace. Despite the name, it is not actually a syndrome and is not a diagnosis in the DSM. Regardless, it is well-known that it is a lived experience for many, and while it can feel isolating, more people struggle with these feelings than you may realize.

What are the Causes?

While it's not definitive, and like many other things, there is no one particular cause, there are some contributing factors that may impact your likelihood of feelings of imposter syndrome. Perfectionism, as well as competitive environments may contribute to feelings of intellectual self-doubt.

Feeling like you are not able to make a mistake in a safe way, knowing there may be serious consequences to an error, or feeling like you have to be right every time may also have an impact. Simply put, being 'perfect' is not sustainable, and it will likely cause you some anxiety if you expect that of yourself.

What Can You Do About It?

Connect with someone who understands. An interesting tip from Psychology Today suggests seeking out support from someone outside of the field in which you're feeling like an imposter. They may help to bring in an outside perspective and simply offer up a different type of love and support than you might find within your professional circles.

It may also be helpful to find a mentor - get in touch with a person who understands your current experiences or who has possibly lived it themselves to help guide you through the process.

Take the time to celebrate your achievements - you've accomplished a lot! Give yourself room to breathe and reflect on the good that you've done. Yes, even the little things.

Reframe failure and perfection. Of course, this is a toughie! Understand that mistakes will happen - perfection is not sustainable. Understand that failures may happen along the way. Working to get comfortable with that can help you fight feeling the need to be perfect at every stop.

If you're experiencing feelings of imposter syndrome to a high degree, or if you're feeling anxious or depressed, don't hesitate to seek out help from a mental health professional. Understand that you are not alone and that there are ways in which you can tackle the feelings of imposter syndrome.

To learn more, check out this upcoming talk at the WITI Summit.


Sources:

Feel like a fraud?. Retrieved 8 June 2021, from https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud

Imposter Syndrome. Retrieved 8 June 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/imposter-syndrome

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