Because you’re not ‘faking it,’ you’re ‘making it’

“Am I good enough to apply for this job? Do I deserve this promotion? What if someone finds out I don’t really know anything? I feel like an impostor.”

If you have ever had these intrusive and uneasy thoughts, you’re not alone. Impostor syndrome is the phenomenon in which individuals feel as if they ended up in prestigious positions or achieved successes not because of their competence, but because of some oversight or stroke of luck. They feel like “frauds” or “impostors.” It’s different from mild levels of self-doubt, which can actually be healthy and encourage you to be diligent in your work and challenge your own ideas.

Impostor syndrome can significantly affect your life in many ways, like discourage you from applying to a new job or promotion that you may deserve or causing you to be closed-off and afraid to voice your ideas during important moments.

Check out our five practical tips to tackle these feelings and open your life to new professional opportunities.  

Use visual reminders

A certificate of completion framed and displayed on a desk.
Image by Pavel Danilyuk via Pexels.

Visual reminders are powerful. For instance, hang your academic posters in your office, frame your university diploma or use sticky notes to list weekly or monthly achievements that made you proud. Give yourself visual reminders that you have accomplished milestones in your journey that are real and worth being proud of.

Share how you feel

Two women sitting on a couch chatting.
Image by Cliff Booth via Pexels.

We can’t say it enough – talk to the people you trust. Whether it’s a friend, partner or family member, speaking to people outside your professional circle, particularly those with a similar background as you, can provide a more realistic picture of your accomplishments and value. On the flip side, be cautious about sharing your feelings with peers or people within the organization, as it can sometimes promote comparison and make the situation worse.

Expand your circle

Three young people laughing outdoors.
Image by Keira Burton via Pexels.

Psychologists suggest expanding your circle of reference. This means that if you find yourself comparing your achievements to that of your peers in, for example, advanced accounting class, you should try to make friends from other classes instead. Increasing your interactions with people in different circumstances can challenge your idea of what success means and reduce feelings of inadequacy or doubt.

Separate fact from feeling

Image by Alina Vilchenko via Pexels.

Often, people’s perceptions about events are vastly different from reality. A bad day can bring up memories of just failures instead of objectively recollecting successes and failures in equal measure. You can train yourself to be objective by saving feedback or appreciation emails, listing out pros and cons of how you handled a past situation and any awards or recognition you may have received. Your worth is defined by a lot more than your most recent failure or success.

Celebrate your wins (all of them!)

Woman holding a bag of flowers and smiling.
Image by Amina Filkins via Pexels.

It’s important to recognize your wins and reward yourself. This could be anything you enjoy, like buying yourself something small, taking yourself out to dinner, sharing your accomplishment with a friend or writing out a LinkedIn post. Celebrating your wins releases more of the happy neurotransmitter dopamine, which will motivate you to accomplish even more

Whether it’s having a folder filled with all the positive feedback you have received throughout your academic and professional journey, or meeting up with a good friend weekly who can remind you of your achievements, it’s essential to embrace your accomplishments and let go of the impostor syndrome that may be holding you back. We believe that you are capable and deserving of all the opportunities that come your way.

Header photo courtesy of Andrea Piacquadio from Pexel.

Interested in learning about other ways you can grow? Check out how you can make small changes to your lifestyle to be at the top of your mental health game!

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