“Do I deserve to be here?”
“Who am I to have a podcast?”
“Who am I to address this issue or share this information?”
Have you ever asked yourself any of these questions? Have you ever felt undeserving of status, unworthy of an accomplishment or otherwise question your right or ability to even be involved with a project?
If you have, then you’ve experienced a very common occurrence known as Imposter Syndrome, and we’re here to say: We get it. We have, too.
And despite what some might think, this affliction is not necessarily tied to low self-esteem or any other clinical problems like anxiety or depression. Instead, Imposter Syndrome is found throughout industries and across all nations; it affects people of all socioeconomic statuses and age groups.
In fact, it’s tied to a psychological phenomenon called pluralistic ignorance, in which a majority of people privately think a certain way but believe themselves to be the only one believing that way. In relation to Imposter Syndrome, people will doubt themselves but believe that they’re the only ones feeling this way. This can lead to those feelings of being a fraud and fake or feeling unworthy of being where you’re at and doing what you do.
Everyone grapples with self-doubt, but we believe we’re the only one’s who do.
Only you know your personal struggles; how hard you work or how difficult a task comes to you. Likewise, you have no way of knowing, unless told, how challenging other people in your position find a task or job.
All you know for sure is how difficult your road has been, how hard you had to work and the effort that was put into each accomplishment. And since you can only compare other people’s work and accomplishment from the outside-looking-in, unable to see the struggle that isn’t shared, you tend to believe that you aren’t as good as the person or people you compare yourself to.
“I had to work harder for it, so I’m not as smart.”
“I had to do more research, so I’m not as knowledgeable.”
“They made that look so easy, and it was so hard for me, so I’m not as good.”
It often comes down to the comparison you make between yourself and other people in a similar place.
What’s the best way to beat it?
Just talk about it. With anyone.
The best way to combat Imposter Syndrome is to openly talk about it.Understanding that this syndrome is very common and occurs regardless of actual qualification or skill level is a good start, but actually having an open conversation about it with people who are going through the same thing helps to put this struggle into perspective.
You could be the first in your group to express this feeling and, in return, learn that many others near you have felt this way at some point in their careers or projects. Having that open dialogue negates that pluralistic ignorance, that belief that you’re alone in an experience or thought, and in sharing that feeling and receiving that assurance that you’re not alone, you relieve that personal doubt.
If you’re hesitant to take that first step, you can start by diving into the numerous online resources that discuss this topic, including the fifth episode, Imposter Syndrome, of our own podcast, Podlogix. In it, we interview Kim Morrow and Johanna Beyer who are leadership coaches, podcast hosts, and two people who themselves have firsthand experience with Imposter Syndrome.