This is an extract from my ebook, Overcoming Imposter Syndrome.
When Pauline Clance was in graduate school, she was constantly worrying that she wasn’t good enough. She didn’t think her performance in exams was adequate. She dwelt on the information she didn’t know instead of what she did. Her friends grew tired of hearing her worries, so she stopped sharing them. She managed to get good grades in her exams, but was still worried that she wasn’t measuring up to the achievements of others.
Pauline didn’t know it at the time, but she had Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is not a medical condition. It is a term for the feeling you have when you believe that you do not really know what you are doing. You attend a meeting where the discussion goes over your head and you suddenly feel like an idiot. You believe that you are in completely the wrong job and the wrong company and you are in no way worthy of holding your current position. Surely it is only a matter of time before someone notices that you are not up to the job and fires you?
In reality, lots of people feel that they don’t measure up. When you take on something new – a new project, a new responsibility – you might be surrounded with people who are subject matter experts or who have been in a similar role as yours for years. It feels as if they know everything, and you don’t know anything at all.
That’s how Imposter Syndrome manifests itself: it undermines your self-confidence. It can hit anyone, at any time.
Worry, concern, fear, shame, embarrassment, being overwhelmed: all these are reasons that keep people quiet about their Imposter feelings. If you are brave enough to ask your colleagues whether they have ever felt as if they are splashing around in the deep end while everyone else swims gracefully by, then you are breaking the silence around Imposter Syndrome.
Go on, ask someone.
When you tell the truth about how you feel, you will encourage other people to do the same. Your truth gives them permission to act in the same way. And that changes things for everyone.
Feeling like a fraud is (unfortunately) normal. There is a name for these feelings and by now you know that the name is Imposter Syndrome. You are not alone in feeling like this, and just knowing that can be a step towards overcoming Imposter Syndrome, regaining your self-confidence and feeling like you have all the skills you need to tackle life at work.