A self-sabotaging cycle.
“Soon enough, they’ll know I’m a fraud.”
Has this ever crossed your mind? Feeling like soon, someone will catch you in the “act” and reveal you as a fraud? Whether I knew it or not, I’ve always had this feeling in the back of my mind. This feeling of being a fraud came out more when I attended a coding bootcamp because I was able to finally put a word to the feeling, imposter syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is this idea that whatever achievements you’ve had up to this point or even just recently, have all been due to luck. Up to this point in my life, even after graduating from a university and getting a degree in Biology, and also completing a coding bootcamp, I still feel like everything was just luck. That I was just super lucky to get through college and super lucky when I passed my technical assessments for my coding bootcamp. This mindset, as you can see, is extremely debilitating. This way of thinking makes me feel like I don’t have the ability to achieve goals that every other person can. Even though I may be more than capable of doing it (see I did it just now when I said “may be…”). There are so many other people in my field who, in my opinion, deserve that job more, or can do better than I can but that’s where I’m already going wrong.
Comparison is the thief of all happiness. It’s hard not to compare yourself to others especially in this day and age. Everything is put on display for everyone to see on social media. LinkedIn is basically a museum of all your achievements and it's hard not to get caught up in that. At this point right now, I feel the imposter syndrome taking over me when I’m applying for tech jobs. I look for entry-level positions but the entry-level positions ask for like 3 plus years of experience. How is that possible? Maybe I’m not fit for the role or maybe I shouldn’t even be applying for these positions in the first place. It’s so hard not to fall into this toxic mindset when every day you’re reminded of what you can’t bring to the table. Then, let’s say you do get an interview, the whole time you feel like you’re an actor/actress reading a script for this new role that you’re playing. I can let imposter syndrome be the driver of my life or I can learn to deal with it and eventually overcome it.
How To Overcome It
Disclaimer: I am no professional but this is what I’ve been doing for myself that has helped me deal with my imposter syndrome.
Know that it’s there and acknowledge that you may have it. This is probably one of the hardest things to do. Most of the time, when you have imposter syndrome, it is hard to recognize that you have it because you are thinking well maybe I’m a fraud for thinking I even have imposter syndrome too! At least, that’s what I thought. In the beginning, I almost didn’t believe that I had it. The way I thought about myself and my abilities was so natural to me that it didn’t even cross my mind until I sat down and reflected. Reflection is probably one of the best things you can do for yourself not only to understand that you may have imposter syndrome but to check in with yourself mentally. The state of your mental health is extremely important to anything you do, so listen to your body when you need to give yourself a mental health day.
This next step is also quite hard to even approach. Accepting that you have imposter syndrome is a big step to overcoming it because once you’ve accepted it, you can now take the necessary steps to drive your own life again. This will allow you to catch yourself when you are in this mindset and you can take a step back, think about everything you’ve achieved so far, big or small, and know that you did that. You’ve achieved those goals not because of luck but because you have the skillset to do that.
Practicing mindfulness allows you to put steps one and two together. When you are mindful, you are aware of when you are having that toxic mindset. You can acknowledge that it’s present, accept it, and try to get yourself out of it. The best thing you can do is breathe through it and keep reminding yourself of your achievements no matter how big or small are due to your hard work and not luck!
You are not alone. Almost everyone I‘ve spoken to, in my position but also in managing positions, has experiences imposter syndrome in one way or another. Speak to the people around you! Share your experiences because I’m sure, knowing that at least one other person in your life who feels this way will help you overcome it faster than you know it. You may be asking, why so? Well because when someone you know says they have imposter syndrome you won’t believe it. Your idea of this person may have been that they are super smart and hard-working and possess the abilities to achieve the goals in their life. You start to think, well if that’s how I think about them, maybe I’m not a fraud after all. You really have to speak to yourself as if you were speaking to a friend. This really helped me deal with my imposter syndrome. Now, I’m not saying that I’ve overcome it, I still struggle with it every day. However, it does get easier to deal with, especially when you have a support group! If you’re dealing with imposter syndrome, feel free to reach out to me! I’m always happy to help.