The Analyst: Imposter Syndrome

Hi everyone, hope you guys are having a great week and are ready for the weekend- I know I am! This months Hot Topic is a taboo that most of us have experienced at some point in time but never talked about. This week we are going to tackle Imposter Syndrome and some of the common ways it can affect young adults.

Have you ever received an award or high recognition and felt like you didn’t deserve it? When people tell you you’re good at doing something, do you downplay it because you feel like you’re just lucky? Although you succeed often, do you feel that you’re faking it and worry that people could expose you for it? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you may suffer from imposter effect or imposter syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome is a form of anxiety that plagues over 70% of millennials. Initially, it was discovered that the syndrome attacks female leaders but was later found to affect high achievers and entrepreneurs of all ages, races, ethnicities and lifestyles. Studies show that the syndrome can manifest itself after receiving recent accolades and can potentially hinder the growth of an individual if not managed properly. If not handled and managed you can find yourself under-performing because you don’t think you deserve success. When going into a new job or venture, this effect is something to be wary of. Imposter syndrome can be grouped into 5 different types: The Perfectionist, The Superwoman/man, the Natural genius, the rugged individualist, and the expert.

For further explanation on each type of imposter syndrome you can read here

Researches support that imposter syndrome is something that can be managed by seeking a trusted mentor or friend. It is always a good idea to find someone that you can relate to not only in looks and personality but someone that has similar career goals and personal aspirations as you. They probably already combated some, and still share many, of the same feelings and imposter insecurities you have. You can recognize you’re not alone and maybe gain some new insight on how to combat the problem.

Another proven way to combat this syndrome is to have an expectation for initial failure. You don’t want to beat yourself up so much that you don’t execute, but you want to remember that there will always be room for improvement when you do make your move.

Recognizing a problem is always the first step to improvement. As we get older we must make it a point to notice our fears or anxieties and address them before they consume us.

At times, I know I suffer from imposter syndrome. Too many times I’ve found myself feeling like I didn’t deserve my success and that someone was on the verge of finding out I was not worthy. Those feelings translated into me not marketing myself and not wanting to post on social media, blog or just share my good news with close friends for fear that they would automatically judge me or compare what I’m doing to their own work.

I would categorize myself as the superwoman imposter, I do a little bit of everything from being a coach, athlete, sneaker reseller, and IT specialist. Most of the time I do a great job balancing the load but at times I start to question if I’m good at what I do or if I’m good at faking it, or just lucky. When I go too long without recognizing my negative thoughts and correcting my mental outlook and ensuing actions, I can get into a pretty bad headspace and it can affect my productivity, close friendships and relationships. Recently it has severely affected how I communicate with the people closest to me. At times I’ve lashed out at my loved ones or completely ignore everything around me, with my “head in the clouds”. I’ve realized that this is not a healthy way to cope and I’m trying to improve on this daily. When I find myself thinking “imposter thoughts” I try to think nobody gets better at their craft without practicing, so it takes time and I must be patient while I grow. I also look back at my past achievements and remember I do deserve everything God has in store for me. As Jeremiah 29 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Imposter syndrome can take control over your life if you let it. It tends to attack natural born leaders and entrepreneurs. Fortunately, these type of people are built for adversity. As a leader, use your analytical skills to recognize the problem and do what you can to correct it, whether talking to a friend or just having a tough conversation with yourself is what it takes, then do it! If those options are not working, it’s a good idea to seek professional help. If you have health insurance, your provider probably covers mental health visits as well. Just because you’re the “smart” or “strong” friend does not mean you can’t have vulnerable moments and it doesn’t mean you have to figure everything out on your own. Seek the help you need so you can get back on track ASAP. Nobody deserves to be at 100% more than you!

#ImposterSyndrome #WomenInSTEM #BlackWomenInSTEM #postgradanxiety