Have Imposter Syndrome but Don’t Know It?
They're all looking at me and thinking, “You don't belong here. You're not one of us. You're not ready…”
Has that awful little imaginary devil on your shoulder ever whispered those kind of thoughts into your ear? You're not alone.
No matter how hard you worked to earn your role or the opportunity, that inner fear of being called out as a fraud is what's known more commonly as the “imposter syndrome.”
While it can sometimes be due to more overt differences such as being part of a group predominantly made up of people of a different gender, race, age, language background or other shared experience, it can just as easily be nothing more than your inner critic rearing its ugly head.
Every now and then I work with a new client who expresses these feelings of self-doubt or of not measuring up. When I ask if they've ever heard of imposter syndrome, what's most interesting is the near-instant relief they express at realizing that “it's a real thing,” i.e., it's a common-enough experience that it even has a name, and not something that they alone are experiencing.
I must confess that I recently experienced a twinge of the imposter syndrome myself quite unexpectedly while on vacation in Costa Rica just a couple of weeks ago.
I was invited to a party one evening, which had something of a “lifestyles of the rich and famous” vibe. Everyone was perfectly nice and friendly, and nobody asked for my credentials, tax returns or personal net worth, but I still couldn't help but wonder if someone would realize I wasn't “big” enough to be there among the rest of the group, at which point they'd hit a button and my chair would eject me out of the house like an old-fashioned Road Runner cartoon.
And in case you're wondering, don't be fooled — men also do experience bouts of imposter syndrome; it's just not as common a topic of discussion in men's circles. Perhaps this is due to the need to maintain the facade of confidence and being in control even if they don't feel it… *ahem*… get the picture?
In this week's podcast, I dive a bit deeper into the topic of the imposter syndrome, signs to look for in yourself and others, and communication strategies to help you overcome it.
You can tune in here for the whole podcast episode or here to watch it on YouTube.
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