The Engineer: Imposter Syndrome

Hello Again! Hope you guys are having a good day/week. This week, we wanted to discuss Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". In other words, you feel as though that you don't belong in the space that you're in. This is something that I've seen amongst underrepresented groups especially in predominantly white spaces including myself.

When I first started working, I remember during training they pulled up the stats on how many people applied, how many people got interviews, and how many people actually got an internship offer, and I was stunned. Additionally, they always kept talking about how they hire the smartest people to come and work hard to solve challenging problems. Hearing all of this, made me really start to question myself and my abilities. I remember thinking, "How did I get here?", "I don't think I'm really THAT smart," and "Yeah, I think this was an accident." Having these thoughts running through my head definitely wasn't good for my mental health and was also undervaluing the hard work that I put in to get to where I am today. I told myself that I was going to break out of that thinking and have challenged myself to think about me and my presence in any space that I inhibit in a more positive way. Here are some of the ways that I've done so:

If I become faced with a problem and it seems daunting, I just start working and hope for the best.

Imposter Syndrome can leave you feeling like you're incapable of doing something. There's certain parts of projects that I've been on where I am thinking to myself, "yeah, I don't think I can do this." and I psyche myself out. Once I start working on a task and begin outlining what I actually need to get done, I realize that it's not that difficult or that I am able to accomplish it. Getting over that hump of feeling like you CAN'T starts making you feel like you CAN.

Celebrate small wins

One thing I've learned while working is that people like to brag about what they're doing no matter how big or small what they've accomplished is. This is something that I never used to do while I was working because I used to think that if I did something, then that should be enough. I quickly learned that you can't wait for someone to celebrate and acknowledge you; you have to do it yourself so people will acknowledge you. Talking more about the thing I'm working on and the things that I've accomplished, helps you move past the feeling of not doing enough because you've realized that you have actually accomplished a lot.

Demystify what seems hard

If a job or position that someone is doing or holding seems very difficult, ask them how they got there. Talk to them about the work that they're responsible for and what they do every day. I got a coffee with someone at work one day and they told me the best question to ask someone is "what did they do today?" That's a key indicator of what someone's actually doing to contribute to maybe a larger picture. A lot of times by doing this you start to realize that what someone is working on isn't that difficult and is something that is attainable once you build your network, gain more experience etc.'

Outline what makes you different

Knowing what makes you unique amongst your colleagues or peers help you iron out where you add value. If you know how to use a different technology? Embrace that. If you appear to be more personable? Use that. Knowing that you bring more than what is asked of you (and trust me, you do bring more) allows you to begin to see why you belong and what your strengths are and how to capitalize and expand them further to better your branding and your career.

You are meant to be where you are. You have every right to be where you are regardless of if people around you don't look like you. Own it, embrace it, and don't give up on yourself. - The Engineer

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