We can define Imposter Syndrome as a collection of feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, or not intelligent enough as others might think — and that soon, people will catch you out and discover the truth about you.
At some point in our lives, most of us have experienced feeling like an imposter. Remember that time you were sitting in a meeting and you could not understand half the things that were being discussed? After the meeting, you rushed to go look at the meeting notes to try and digest what was going on during the meeting.
Imposter syndrome becomes apparent in situations such as when we are trying to learn a new skill, or when we don’t have enough depth of knowledge on the topic being discussed. Another good example is when you get a job promotion at work which is below your level of competence and there is a lot of catching up that you need to do. You end up feeling exposed because there are a lot of gaps that you have to fill and that becomes very clear.
I find that dealing with imposter syndrome is even harder when you are trying to deal with it by yourself, it is better to deal with it when you have people around you that constantly affirms you. If you report to someone like a manager, even though you might have disagreements with your manager, your manager must have your back, the support and encouragement goes a long way and will help you manage the imposter syndrome.
Some people underestimate the importance of interpersonal dynamics and building meaningful relationships with people instead of just working with them. When you are comfortable with the people you are working with and they are comfortable working with you, there is a less sense of imposter syndrome and you will get comfortable with yourself as a result, being in that space, being authentic, and not always being articulate, but people still being interested in what you say and being allowed to show up as who you are.
Being Authentic is a powerful tool. It might sound strange, however, the thing about imposter syndrome is that you should try not to be less of yourself, but to be more yourself.
Often when people encounter imposter syndrome, they try and put on a show, the fake it until you make it kind of a thing. I have often seen this where people try and assimilate into the group by being more like the people who are there in the group. This is wrong and will deplete your energy levels with time, you must be more of yourself.
It is important to show up as your true self and a lot of people battle with this especially within their careers because they feel they need to present themselves as something different.
I have experienced the imposter syndrome first-hand. I was sitting in a meeting with all the great people, listening to them talk about the strategic issues of the organization and I started questioning myself, who am I to be here. Soon I realized that I just have to be myself, there is no other way.
You were brought into this opportunity or situation given what you were doing before, if you were doing a good job, you must just carry on doing just that. Ask a lot of questions if you do not understand something, be open to saying I don’t know. I ask my colleagues all the time about things I don’t know. That openness to being truthful to being who you are, that openness to be able to say I don’t know, will help you deal with imposter syndrome.
I could be wrong, but I guess men suffer a lot from acknowledging that they don’t know something. I don’t want to be on the wrong side of the debate, but I think men, in particular, suffer from this issue of coming across and saying I don’t know. I would encourage that, if you don’t know something, just go and ask, it does not take anything from your self-esteem.
You may feel that moving into a new situation you are an imposter, but you got there fairly because of what you have done before.
What you did before does not guarantee you success, but be very open to bringing the best version of you, which is why you are there.
When you have the imposter syndrome, there is this desire to go and hide and not being an imposter. But here is the thing, you don't have to hide, your ignorance or lack of knowledge is actually valuable to the team because if you ask a question that seems basic, that question might actually spark an idea to the team.