4 Ways To Handle Imposter Syndrome


Imposter syndrome is defined by Wikipedia as, "a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud." As young talent, you're hit doubly hard—not only do you have limited experience, but you also don't have experience dealing with imposter syndrome. Here are four concrete ways to handle imposter syndrome whenever it strikes.

1) Remember that everyone feels it. 
Imposter syndrome can feel very specific to you, but the reality is that everyone deals with a level of imposter syndrome throughout their career. And not just other young talent, but everyone, from your boss, to the CEO of your company. There are always new scenarios we encounter that cause us to doubt ourselves—the difference is that as you advance in your career, you get better at handling those feelings. Along the way, take comfort in knowing that it's not just you.

Image from    Foundr

Image from Foundr

2) Productively use the emotion.
The worst part of imposter syndrome isn't that we feel it—it's that it can be debilitating, or cause us to not perform at our full potential for fear of messing up. But what if we turned imposter syndrome into a signal that something wonderful is going to happen? When you feel that fear, take is as a sign that you're about to learn a lot, grow, and take another step in your career. The more we train ourselves to think this way, the more we're able to step over the fear and up to the challenge.

As a side note, the opposite of imposter syndrome—feeling 100% confident we can crush it all the time—is what leads people to get bored with their jobs. We need that challenge to stay interested.

3) Be honest about where you're lacking.
Sometimes imposter syndrome is warranted—it can be a sign that we don't have as much experience in a certain skill/area than we'd like. Instead of fretting about being found out, think openly about the areas you feel you're lacking, and actively work to address them. Take an extra class online to hone a skill, or talk with subject-matter experts. Be open about what you're working on and engage others to help you. The more self-aware and proactive we are, the less it'll seem like something's lacking, and the more it'll show your want to grow and learn. 

Image by    Gemma Correll

Image by Gemma Correll

4) Remind yourself of how awesome you are.
Create a hype jar for times when imposter syndrome hits hardest. Whenever someone pays you a compliment or you achieve something, write it down on a scrap of paper, fold it up, and put it in a jar or box. When you start to doubt yourself, reach in to give yourself a boost of confidence. Often it's easier for us to believe the nice things that other people say about us (versus being our own hype wo/man), so be sure to include praise from your teammates from past reviews and projects. (I do this using messages from We Are Next users!)

You got this (you really do, even if you feel like you don't),