For a long time, I never spoke to anyone about my experiences with imposter syndrome. I felt that I was somehow inadequate for not being able to cope with the everyday stresses of life or workload put on me by my university study. By all accounts, I should have been happy and settled.. but that's not the way these things really work. Instead, I felt like my mind was being pulled in a million different directions. But why?
The first time I was able to identify and verbalise my experiences was in a class session during my PhD. A lecturer mentioned two words which still stick with me to this day - Imposter Syndrome.
Essentially, Imposter Syndrome is the inability to believe that your accomplishments and achievements are deserved and you feel in fear that you may be exposed as a fraud. Rough, right?
Well, for me, this was exactly how I was feeling in the PhD program. How could I possibly be as smart as everyone else here? Surely my research project isn't as good as anyone else's? When was the day going to come that my supervisor asks me to leave? (For the record, I was never asked to leave the PhD program and graduated in 2016... these thoughts were exactly that, just thoughts)
Have you ever felt this way?
Since experiencing these feelings, I've been reaching out more and more to others in my life and have realised that so many of us go through phases of this feeling. And just as I realised that so many of us go through it, I also realised how few people have the words to verbalise it. We put an incredible amount of pressure on ourselves to succeed as young women and this pressure has to have a release point somewhere.
Imposter syndrome makes us question our worth and the value of our work. The irony seems to be that the most intelligent, successful, and hard-working people I know are the ones that are most often affected by it. So what are some ways people can deal with it?
- Look at the responses to your work. And believe them!
- Avoid a perfectionist attitude
- Be open about your feelings, acknowledge to yourself when you are feeling the effects of the Imposter Syndrome in order to overcome them
For more information on how to beat Imposter Syndrome try checking out this great article by clicking here. In future posts, I'll be examining Imposter Syndrome further and continuing to share my journey through it all and strategies for all us of to manage and even conquer it.
Until next time.