How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome

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imposter syndrome in academia

Do you routinely receive praise for your work that you don’t think you deserve? The chances are that you’re experiencing a very common phenomenon known as imposter syndrome. Exhibiting symptoms such as inadequacy or the feeling like you’re not as smart as your peers, imposter syndrome can be a very debilitating state of mind. It doesn’t just affect students or people in their early stages of career – even the most accomplished of scientists feel this way from time to time! Extremely prevalent in academia, imposter syndrome is a tough challenge to face.

Imposter syndrome can have serious effects on your self esteem. Without giving this state of mind the boot, you will find that it begins to influence the way that you work, even blocking you from partaking in certain activities. Rather than let it affect your life negatively, here are some practical tips for dealing with imposter syndrome.

Eighty-Percent of Anything is Just Showing Up

Do you get the shakes leading up to a big presentation? Experiencing first day of the job jitters? While this is extremely normal, it’s not exactly pleasant. You may be wondering if you are going to be good enough, but in actual fact, you already are. Eighty-percent of anything is just showing up, so if you have made it that far, then you’re doing fine. They chose YOU for the job, they wanted to hear YOU speak. Just remember to keep telling yourself these things so that you can show your best self.

Be Aware of Intrusive Thoughts

We are our own worst enemies. No matter how strong you are, you may find that negative thoughts can make their way into your mind before a high pressure event, or even in your day to day life. Being aware that these thoughts are occurring is key in being able to quickly address them. Rather than dwell on the negativity, either accept these thoughts and move on, or stop them in their paths. Remind yourself that you are able to do this and that you have done it before. By staying consistent with identifying intrusive thoughts, you will build on the skill of not letting them affect you so much.

Know that Everyone Else is Having these Thoughts Too

You are not struggling alone. Just about everyone else you come in contact with suffers in some way with thinking that they are a fraud despite the amount of time they have spent learning their craft. While you may think that everyone around you is analysing everything you say or do, in reality, they are analysing themselves in the same way that you are. Knowing that everyone else is feeling this way too can help you to manage the panic levels and give you more confidence in your work.

Know that it’s Okay to Still Be Learning

There is no point at which you know everything. Your learning journey will be never ending, so why be so hard on yourself when you don’t know as much as the next person? Treat every experience as an opportunity to learn and grow. If you give a bad presentation, you can work on the parts that let you down for next time. Proficiency is all about practise, so as you do these things more, you will start to feel more confident.

Feeling like a fraud when you are working hard to produce results is a difficult experience. However, understanding why this is happening and taking steps towards changing your emotional response to these kinds of thoughts can go a long way in helping you to overcome imposter syndrome for good.