Feel Like a Fraud? It’s Probably Imposter Syndrome…

Do you ever get performance anxiety doing a task under the watchful eye of someone else?
Do you only really feel like you’re doing well at school or work when you’re receiving positive feedback?
Do you constantly worry about appearing ‘useless’, or that people might find out you’re not as capable as they think you are?
If you do, then you’re likely suffering from a touch of imposter syndrome, but you might be surprised to know that, ironically, you are not alone in feeling like the odd one out!
According to the International Journal of Behavioural Science, a staggering 70% of us will experience impostor symptoms at some point in our lives, and it is an increasingly common phenomenon as Generation Z transition from school into the workplace. According to NY magazine, anxiety among the millennial generation sits at an 80 year high, but it appears to be on an upward trajectory.
Imposter syndrome – or impostorism – is the belief that your achievements are more to do with fluke, error or overestimation than talent and merit. This makes itself known in an inherent fear of being outed as a fraud, leaving many people feeling anxious transitioning into the work environment.

‘When I won the Oscar, I thought it was a fluke.
I thought everybody would find out, and they’d take it back.’
–  Jodie Foster

Research from the University of Salzburg has revealed that Imposter Syndrome directly impacts our ability to negotiate a fair wage, compete for promotions, participate in group discussion and make bolder decisions which lead to more fruitful careers. Statistically, sufferers receive smaller salaries, hold lower-level positions and experience less overall job satisfaction against non-sufferers.
Although more prevalent amongst women and minority groups, the affliction does not end there, with notable sufferers including the likes of Denzel Washington, Emma Watson, Will Smith, Maya Angelou, Chris Martin, John Steinbeck and Lady Gaga.

How Do I Overcome I.S.?

  • Strive to Engage More
I.S. sufferers need more validation than most. That means we naturally seek the approval or praise of others, however in doing so we grant them the power to completely make or break us. By trying to slowly interject your own ideas and perspectives into discussions, you are able to empower yourself whilst also demonstrating a value which will help to counter the odd feeling of fraudulence.
  • Redefine Your Idea of ‘Competence’
Often we uphold a long list of criteria of what makes someone ‘competent’. Failing at a task first time around doesn’t make you a failure. Asking for help doesn’t make you incapable. It is because we equate one with the other that we judge ourselves so harshly. Try to consciously hone a resilience which means that external events don’t impact your sense of self, but instead become a learning experience. Jump straight back on the horse, and treat yourself with compassion.
  • Remember It’s an Indication of Intelligence
There is a proven correlation between anxiety and high IQ. Those that deconstruct ideas, analyze and think deeply are more alert to finding flaws (both in themselves and their surroundings) so make remarkable troubleshooters – their insight can actually be far more useful than that of their more confident peers. In actuality, the fact that they feel fraudulent at all is the very reason they are an extremely valuable addition to their respective teams. As was asserted by Charles Darwin, ‘Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.’ Take comfort in your self-doubt – it means you’re more than deserving of being exactly where you are right now. You earned it.

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