Let's talk about impostor syndrome

Let's talk about impostor syndrome

You got the job you wanted and after feeling like the happiest person in the world, a little voice in your head says: Do I deserve it? What if they saw more potential in me than I have? What if I'm a fraud?

These thoughts reveal the fear we feel of not being good enough at what we do. In turn, that leads us to be afraid, even, of being discovered as such: phonies, imposters. When we suffer from this condition, we find it difficult to recognise our achievements; therefore, we are not able to assimilate them and feel deserving of them. What's more, we sometimes think that they were due to external factors or luck, but never to our efforts.

Recognising to Act

The first step is to recognise it and the second is to take care of it. It is not uncommon for a person with Imposter Syndrome to think that "it's not that big of a deal" and try to minimise what is happening to them. Consciously or unconsciously, don't do it. There are much healthier ways to deal with this.

According to Dr. Valerie Young, author of the best-sellerThe Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and how to Thrive in Spite of it and an expert on the subject, there are 5 groups of people who suffer from the syndrome:

  • Perfectionists:They set such ambitious goals and are afraid of not being able to achieve them. Their expectations are always so high that they get disappointed very easily. For them, they could always "have done better".
  • Individualists:They feel that if they ask for help, they are showing that they are imposters. They are the ones who "can do everything", but alone.
  • Experts:They know a lot about a subject but believe that it is never enough. They need to validate that they know what they know or else others will find out that they are phonies. They are the ones who study and train all the time, without rest, because they believe they are "never up to par".
  • Geniuses:They are aware of their ability and that is why they demand the maximum of themselves. They judge themselves and get frustrated if things don't go smoothly, quickly and the first time.
  • Superhumans:They think that their colleagues are more intelligent, talented, and successful, so they push themselves to work harder and harder, without measuring the consequences on their health.

Once we identify with one or more of these groups, we have to start looking for answers through introspection: How long have I been feeling this way? Have I always felt the same or has it gotten worse over time? Do I recognise any specific event that has triggered so many insecurities? We can ask ourselves dozens of questions like these and try to answer them. The goal is to know as much as we can about how we feel. The more we monitor it, the better we will do in therapy. Because yes, these issues are treated, first and foremost, in therapy. The important thing is to recognise when these thoughts are becoming pathological. Why? Because if it is not treated, it can become so big that in the future it may affect the way we make decisions, to the point of not allowing us to take on new challenges and therefore, move forward in life. Who better than a mental health professional to help us overcome it and live more fully?

Secondly, we can do activities that help us to increase our self-esteem and recognise ourselves. this is what works for me:

  • Once a day or once a week I write down all my achievements in that time, no matter how small.
  • I write down my talents, knowledge, skills and everything that I feel makes me special.
  • I write down my self-supports, which are the knowledge and life skills that I always have, no matter where I am.

Imposter Syndrome in IT (and specifically, in Design)

It's no news that there are thousands of talented and capable professionals in the job market. You may have to work with very capable people, whom you even admire, but Imposter Syndrome doesn't help you relate to them in the best way.

These types of jobs are necessarily teamwork, we necessarily receive feedback on what we do, we improve, we regress, and we improve again. It can become a living hell if we don't feel up to the task if we over-demand ourselves, if we are afraid to ask for help because of a blockage or because we don't know something, if we get frustrated because the project is not going exactly as we wanted...

"Recognising and acting" makes us a better version of ourselves, a more confident one with more and better soft skills, those that are as necessary as technical skills.

I would like to close this article by reminding you that you weren't just lucky. The job, the promotion, and your other achievements are the result of your effort and talent. You are where you are because you deserve it. And if you're going to compare yourself to anyone, let it be yourself from 5 years ago, not someone else. The real race (and the one that's worth it) is with yourself.