You will always feel like an imposter. You are not going to wake up one day and feel as brilliant and accomplished as the rest of the world sees you.
I spent the majority of my career waiting to feel like I had “made it.” I did things in my career that I never imagined possible, and each success was met with a dark cloud of uncertainty.
Am I good enough? How did I get here? How am I going to do the things they are expecting of me? What if I disappoint everyone? What if I FAIL?
I have finally come to terms with the fact that I will never feel like I “made it.” I am hot-wired to question my abilities and undermined my successes.
This post is pretty depressing so far, yes? Don’t worry. There is hope.
I have always been totally open about the fact that I felt like an imposter, which lead to me getting a lot of great advice on dealing with imposter syndrome. You can absolutely get to a place where you can celebrate your successes without feeling like a total failure. The first step is recognizing where imposter syndrome comes from. The second step is shifting the way you think about success.
Imposter syndrome is way more common in women than in men, and the reason starts in childhood. Studies show that girls tend to believe their abilities are innate, owning to a natural talent. Boys believe they can make themselves better through effort and practice. Why? Psychologists believe it has everything to do with how children are praised growing up. Girls grow up believing that accolades are earned for who you are, more than what you do. Boys typically receive praise when they make a conscious decision to act better, so they connect success with action.
There are tons of studies that have proved this to be true. Carol Dweck did a study in the 1980s which found that bright girls were almost always the meekest in their class. She found that bright girls are quicker to doubt their ability when faced with a challenging task. Bright boys are invigorated by the idea of not knowing an answer and completing a challenge anyways. Boys were naturally more confident than girls, even when the girls outperformed them with the task at hand.
Your imposter syndrome started in childhood. It is deeply rooted in the way you approach challenges, and the way that you measure success.
The key to living with imposter syndrome is to keep moving forward even when you feel like an imposter. You have to remember that your success has absolutely nothing to do with WHO you are, and everything to do with WHAT you have done. You have complete control over the things that you choose to do.
Stop worrying if you are good enough. You might not be good enough right now, but you are completely capable of mastering the skills you need to become the person you want to be. Whether you feel like an imposter or not.
There will always be times when your imposter syndrome slows you down. When you feel like such a failure that you don’t have the energy to move forward in your work. This is when you turn to your community.
There are people in your life who admire you for the person that you are. People who think you are interesting and brilliant and awesome. These people are not crazy. They see something in you that you might not be able to see yourself. You are either tricking all of these people into believing you are way cooler than you really are, OR you are truly as talented as they believe.
Embrace the community of people who believe in the work they are doing. Focus on the goals that you have set for yourself, and keep moving forward even when you feel like quitting. That is the secret to living with imposter syndrome.