Imposter syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be (VeryWellMind). My first experience with this condition was at my first job out of school, which happened to be at one of the top insurance companies in the world. The company onboarding took place on a beautiful campus on Lafayette Hill, PA in the beginning of summer 2018. I brought the best suits and dresses I had to make sure I looked smart all week. That Monday morning, I dressed up in my Sunday best and walked confidently down to the meeting hall. My confidence, however, was quickly diminished when I saw the other well-dressed candidates in attendance.
The room held at least 50 people, all of whom I perceived to be more deserving of holding a position at the company than myself. Instead of seeing this as an exciting new beginning, I started listing all the qualities that I think should have disqualified me from having a seat in that conference room. That week, perhaps even much longer, I struggled with the feeling of not belonging and not measuring up. Looking back, I now see that week as a missed opportunity to network with new colleagues and potentially make new friends.
Over time, with intention and determination, I overcame imposter syndrome. Now, I take on new challenges head on with a feeling of confidence that grows increasingly each year. Here are 3 things I did not to succumb to imposter syndrome.
What I Did About It
One of my favorite quotes is ‘You are who you think you are.” So, I started being more deliberate about how I think about myself. This is when I discovered what positive affirmation was. Positive affirmations are positive phrases or statements used to challenge negative or unhelpful thoughts. Instead of thinking I’m not smart enough to be here, I’d repeat to myself my list of achievements that proves I am smart enough to be here. Positive affirmation is an immensely powerful tool to fight imposter syndrome, but it only works if the person tries to believe what they are saying. Do not repeat hollow words. Be intentional about what you say, how you feel when you say it and how frequently you say it.
Find A Mentor
One of the best decisions I made early in my career was to find mentors. I found people who have walked the path I have and who are interested in seeing me succeed. With some effort I found two mentors outside my department at work. They were two women who were highly successful and respected in their respective fields. The benefits of having a mentor are, they affirm that you are doing well in your position, they share their own struggles with lessons that you can learn from, and they help you navigate the corporate labyrinth that so often dim the light of eager young people.
If imposter syndrome is affecting your work and personal life in a way that prevents you from being productive and happy, therapy may be your best solution. While therapy can be very costly, it can help to reveal the underlying reason you struggle with imposter syndrome. Once this is uncovered, you and your therapist can develop strategies to effectively resolve this problem.