Have you ever felt like you don’t belong? Maybe you believe you’re not as good as your colleagues or co-workers, or that you don’t deserve the accolades you may have accumulated. Maybe you feel like things that go wrong are your own fault, or you’re very upset with yourself when you don’t live up to your own goals.
If you find yourself experiencing these emotions or thinking the idea that you’re “going to be found out,” you probably have some form of Impostor Syndrome. Defined as the belief that you’ve succeeded only from luck rather than qualifications, Impostor Syndrome is experienced by achievers all over the world. In fact, according to an article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, an estimated 70% of people suffer from Impostor Syndrome at some point in their lives, including those who excel at their craft like Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein.
Why it’s a problem: Because we don’t know the challenges others overcame to achieve their current path, oftentimes we think they must be more capable or deserving than ourselves. There are some inherent negatives to this fallacy, including the fact that when a person believes he isn’t deserving of a position, he won’t apply. This means that he could be a great fit for a role, but because he thinks someone is probably better for the job, he won’t submit his candidacy - completely ending his chance. As Ashley, Hiring Expert at Cardinal Health puts it, “Don't be discouraged by the qualifications on a job posting. There are certain positions within the corporate setting that do require a very specific degree and skill set but this is not true of all corporate positions.”Ref.1 It’s always better to try and fail than not try at all. While failing to pursue new opportunities can be a detriment to our careers, Psychology Today explains that o Syndrome goes even beyond that, as “it can be debilitating, causing stress, anxiety, low self-confidence, shame and in some cases, even depression.”Ref.2
How to fix it:
Despite being so widespread, Impostor Syndrome isn’t widely discussed in the workplace. This is especially problematic as TIME Magazine explains that “One of the first steps to overcoming impostor feelings is to acknowledge the thoughts and put them in perspective.”* In fact, for many, simply discovering that others experience the same feelings of inadequacy helps relieve those very feelings. This means that while it may seem cheesy, discussing what you’re feeling with trusted friends or mentors is an excellent way to move past Impostor Syndrome and help you feel like you belong.
Finally, “Most people experience moments of doubt, and that’s normal. The important part is not to let that doubt control your actions.”Ref.3
While Impostor Syndrome can be a real problem in the workplace - and even in your own life - it can be overcome. It’s important to remember that if you feel like an impostor in your job, you’re not alone, but you have earned your place and your credentials. You deserve it.