What Is Impostor Syndrome and How Does It Affect Your Career?

What Is Impostor Syndrome and How Does It Affect Your Career?

In today's fast paced, fake-it-’til-you-make-it world, many young achievers are wading through a sea of self-doubt. Perhaps you've had similar struggles; you start questioning yourself whether you deserve that promotion, whether your work is good enough, or if you could bea good role model for the youth. You may also worry that people will find out you’re living under the guise of perfection.

According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, 70 percent of people feel that they are living under a pretense and fear of being busted. This fear has been given a name: The Impostor Syndrome.

Pauline Clanse and Suzanne Imes coined the term in 1978, describing it as a feeling of "phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite high achievement." It's oxymoronic — a sense of helplessness and inadequacy despite success. Many brilliant people (including actresses Kate Winslet and Emma Watson, as well as celebrated writer Maya Angelou) have felt this way, though.

It doesn't matter who you are or what you do; this syndrome strikes at any given time. Millennials, the study reports, are more prone to this. Thanks to technology, one can easily put out a perfect façade by altering photos, gaining a social media reputation and becoming an online sensation. There’s comparison and societal pressures too, and if you’re starting to question why you’re perfectly organized Instagram feed does not reflect the real you, this may be the Impostor Syndrome creeping in.

How to discern this fear? Sufferers go back and forth in questioning their credentials and find them worthless. This could wind up leading to anxiety and even depression. In order to find relief, they will end up either overworking or procrastinating. As a result, their career, mental and physical health are at risk.

Don’t let the Impostor Syndrome take over your self-confidence. Once you feel it kicking in, kick it back to the curb by taking these steps:

  1. The Impostor Syndrome is no false modesty. Humility is healthy, but not when it paralyzes and keeps you from seeing the value you provide. What do you need to do? Own your success. Stop rejecting props and praises given to you. Be grateful. Let it sink in, then move on to another great opportunity
  2. Stop comparing. You’re here to complement, not to compete. The things you offer — your administrative skills, compassion, brilliance, character — are helpful to your workplace, and even to society. Everyone can dish out something special. The world will never run out of space for creative things.
  3. Keep the messages that touch your heart. When your doubt starts telling you that you’re not worth it, hold on to the things that remind you otherwise. Keep a screenshot of good reviews of your work. File letters from family and friends. Write down the praises your boss gave you.

Once you empower yourself and recognize your worth in this big, growing constellation of creativity, there’s no way you’d go back to self-depreciation. Cheers to you!