When you look back for a moment and think of your greatest achievements to this date, do you feel pleasantly proud of those many amazing things that you’ve accomplished? Or do you feel like a fraud? In this article, we’ll examine Impostor Syndrome: exactly what it is and how you can manage it and thrive.
In some parts of the world, society teaches you to step up and be all you can be, and that’s awesome.
Other parts of the world, they try to put you down and tell you that people who stay low, keep their heads down and blend in will have a good life.
In those places, you are expected to have qualifications or degrees to be able to speak about a certain topic with confidence. Everything has to be perfect, or else there’s trouble.
All of these environments breed fear and doubt in the minds of children and adults alike, which eventually leads to people developing impostor syndrome.
Take me, for example, now. As I’m writing this article on impostor syndrome, my own impostor syndrome is trying to act up. There’s a little voice in my head telling me the following (in no particular order):
- “This is not your expertise. Stop”
- “What makes you qualified to give other people advice on this?”
- “Your life is not perfect. Why are you even trying to give others advice?”
- “What will others say when they find out you haven’t fully fixed your own version of impostor syndrome?”
It took me a good 10 minutes and 7 days from the moment I got introduced to Lesya to sit down and write.
And, look, I recognize the voice may have a point. I’m not qualified or perfect, but I think my journey can help others with their own struggles.
As you probably picked up already, I’m a “recovering” impostor.
I grew up in a culture that did its best to minimize individual success, put others down and criticize opinions that diverged from the masses.
In every group – online or offline, there would be one person who would exercise authority by trying to humiliate, belittle, criticize or otherwise aggravate anyone who dared to have a different opinion to their world view.
Sometimes it’s a parent, or a teacher, other times it can be a bully, a group leader, some authority that people look up to.
Couple that with no positive reinforcement mechanisms, and I got to a point where I was afraid to talk, email, blog or tweet about certain topics, like my opinions, in fear of what imagined retribution I would receive for it.
I would create these major scenarios where the world would fall apart if I wasn’t 100% on point, or accurate, or convincing enough.
If you got this far, there are a few things I know about you:
- You’re identifying with the description above to a certain extent and understand the struggle
- You want to change, but are not sure of the best path forward – thus seeking to learn from my experience
- You want to know how the hell I fixed my impostor syndrome
Here’s how I did it. It’s not a fancy 5 step program or another magic formula you can follow and, presto, it’s gone.
The bad news is that it’s going to take years of meticulous practice to get it under control while keeping your life moving forward.
The good news is that I managed to boil it down to something very simple.
I call it: “It doesn’t matter”-ism.
It doesn’t matter what a few others think of my work, as long as I know it’s valuable and it achieves its goal/purpose.
It doesn’t matter what people think of my opinion, as long as I stay true to my values.
It doesn’t matter if I made a typo in this article or that email, as long as I am consistently correct in my work.
It doesn’t matter if X or Y don’t like me, I have a lot of close friends, co-workers, readers, forum colleagues, etc. that make my life great.
It doesn’t matter if my work/art/writing is not always perfect, as long as it gets the job done or it makes me feel good/proud.
It doesn’t matter if this article doesn’t get traffic or clicks. I enjoyed writing it. I hope you enjoyed reading it and can take some of my learnings with you.
photo source | Lesya Li