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Imposter Syndrome: The story of the involuntary swindler

By November 15, 2017 No Comments

❝ The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler ❞

– Albert Einstein

You ever feel unsuccessful, unaccomplished, uninspiring? Ever feel like everyone around you seems to have their stuff together but your career is a disaster? Ever feel like a hot mess, like you are disappointing everyone?

Ever think you might be wrong?

Brainiacs who study the, well, brain and all its functions, especially those that affect our behaviour, call this feeling “imposter syndrome”. These brainiacs are called psychologists so we are inclined to believe them.

People who experience imposter syndrome are always afraid that somebody will expose them as fakes. They feel like no matter what they do, their success is the result of some fluke or simply luck. If they win an award, they feel it’s because the bar was set low. If they get praised, they think it’s only because Susan from HR is a liar or because Uncle Johnny hasn’t got a clue.

Imposter Syndrome in the IT Industry

In the IT industry, it isn’t uncommon to meet developers and engineers who struggle with Imposter Syndrome. The industry itself is fast growing and booming, there is a lot of success to be found for anybody willing to put in the work. This means that a formal education is not necessary for success. Instead, you can acquire skills and experience through informal education like boot camps, online courses or by playing professor and self-teaching yourself.

Buuutttt … then comes the feeling of being an imposter. Without any formal degree or work experience with a shiny reference letter to validate your hard work, how do you know if you are successful or not? How do you know if you are the real deal? You start to wonder whether all of your learning and experiences can really make the cut against those Silicon Valley “big shots”.  All of a sudden, everyone appears to be more qualified for the job than you. In the off chance that you do land your dream job, you worry about the day your boss realises that you were a BIG mistake – or worse, you worry about all the things nobody even noticed.

Reality is, while you are beating yourself up about things that are out of your control, you don’t notice that everyone actually thinks you’re cool and fine.

Still, imposter syndrome can creep up on anyone … that’s right, even the smart, successful people who appear to have it all together (even Einstein felt like an imposter!!!)! So here are 6 tips on how to fight the feeling and remind yourself just how awesome you are.

6 tips for dealing with Imposter Syndrome

1. Dear e-diary, work got me feeling like …

If you start to feel like your career is on a downward spiral, start writing/typing down all your accomplishments in a work journal (or blog about it, that’s new-age therapy for you). Especially when you reach goals that you set for yourself. You might actually start to realize that you are pretty darn successful but the fear of being a fraud has been blurring your vision.

2. Set goals … lots and lots of goals

Setting short and long-term goals really helps with anxiety. It also distracts you from all the drama and BS around you, giving you some perspective.

3. “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

Start talking about work with people in similar fields and jobs. Talk to the experts. Maybe you will come to realize that you are actually a superstar or at the very least, you aren’t the only person questioning him/herself.

4. Hit me with it. Just give it to me straight!

A lot of insecurities can be relieved once you ask for feedback about the work you are doing. If you make mistakes, that is ok too because you will learn from them. But especially make sure to take in all and any compliments, you deserve them booboo!

5. Accept that everything has its time and place

Yes, it may sound cliché and it probably is, but it’s still true. Your career will go its own way and will differ from others, this is OK! Accept that you will get to where you want to be when it’s the right time. After all, life isn’t a race (nobody wants to get to that “finish line” first) so go at your own pace.

6. Rebrand your thinking

Make the conscious decision to stop giving a flying hoot about the who, what, where and why of your life’s happenings. Instead, why not adopt the mantra “I deserve to be here” and remind yourself of this … every. single. day!

About the Author

Amela Trokić is a Talent Manager at Atlantbh. Ever the one for adventure and new challenges, Amela has racked up an international professional portfolio having worked in 5 countries. Amela is currently working on employee motivation and benefits at Atlantbh, where her goal is to contribute to a healthy and positive work culture.

All information in this specific blog represents the personal opinion of Amela Trokić and does not necessarily reflect that of Atlantbh.

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