When you feel like a fraud, keep doubting your abilities and feel inadequate despite your experience and success, it’s likely you experience something called imposter syndrome.
As a human, it’s unpleasant to feel that you aren’t worth it, or that you’re constantly faking it. Imposter syndrome is that persistent nagging of the heels that says ‘hey, are you really sure about that? Are you really ready?’.
It’s unpleasant to feel that you aren’t worth it, or that you’re constantly faking it.
In reality, nobody knows what they’re doing. We’re all making it up as we go along. You and I are both ready. And you deserve every bit of success, and you are enough. But this imposter feeling won’t let you rest.
Eventually, you start withdrawing, and the stress and anxiety make it hard for you to function at your best.
So, what do you do? Dealing with imposter syndrome starts with awareness and part of the awareness is knowing what type of imposter syndrome you are.
Rethinking imposter syndrome
But first, we must rethink our mindset around imposter syndrome. For too long we’ve been told to stop, fight and control imposter syndrome. A thing that you need to get rid of. Not only do attempts to get rid of it not make sense (because it’s who we are), but it keeps you trapped in a negative spiral of overwhelm and stress.
There’s a different way. A way that’s peaceful, compassionate and a winning strategy for wellbeing and life. It’s learning to thrive with imposter syndrome. It’s seeing it as your greatest friend and partnership.
For too long we’ve been told to stop, fight and control imposter syndrome. A thing that you need to get rid of.
But like any great friendship, there are ups and downs. A deep friendship is knowing someone like the back of your hand and with that deep understanding, you accept them and embrace them for who they are. The friendship grows stronger and you achieve great things together, as one.
Viewing your imposter syndrome is no different. It’s not separate from you. It’s part of you.
Here are the different characters. Which ones best describe you?
Workaholic: Are you stuck in the ‘work hard until it’s perfect but never satisfied’ club? You work until you get perfection and when you hand that report in or post that blog, it’s still not good enough. There’s always more to do and things to tweak.
Whether your submission or feedback is successful or not, working hard to make it better is the only way you know.
Lucky Duck: This one is my favourite, and most people with imposter syndrome feel this way. I am one of those people. Do you think all the success and accomplishments in your life are just because you were at the right place at the right time? Or you just got lucky, and nothing came to you due to your persistence and effort?
Every time you get praised, you feel that you don’t deserve it, and that you are unworthy of the success you have.
Because you think your success has been due to luck, you avoid putting yourself out there in case you get found ‘this time’.
Chameleon: You do anything to please or impress those around you so your ‘flaws’ don’t stand out and you avoid rejection. Worrying about what people think and comparing yourself to others is a tool you’ve sharpened to keep you relevant and liked by others.
However, whilst you know you’re not living your life authentically, it feels less important than keeping in with the crowd. You find it exhausting keeping up appearances to be someone you’re not, but your acceptance in the group proves it’s been successful so far in avoiding rejection.
Procrastinator: A term we’re all familiar with right? You dread an upcoming event. A pitch. Project deadline. Perhaps a difficult conversation. Your mind is spiralling about success or failure.
Rather than ample preparation and planning, the fear of doing the work in advance causes you to avoid it and keep putting it off. Even though you know it will help to prepare in advance, getting it done is overpowered by the sinking feeling in the stomach.
Things are done last minute and because you get it the task done, procrastination is continuously reinforced as a helpful tool.
These are the five normal characteristics of imposter syndrome. You may be one or all five. Either way, these imperfections make us human beings.
When we stop asking ‘how do I stop imposter syndrome?’, and start asking ourselves, ‘how can I use imposter syndrome as fuel for a happy and successful life?’, life gives us endless opportunities.