Myths About Imposter Syndrome: The Reason You Feel Inadequate
Of the several subjects that tend to present themselves whenever we think about stepping onto new grounds, advancing in our career, or being in a room full of highly intelligent people, imposter syndrome seems to be the most prevalent. These are moments that cause us to unconsciously question our abilities. They cause us to doubt the genuineness of the strings of achievements that we have to our name. However, with the concept of Imposter Syndrome being all over the place, there is an even more likelihood of the actual meaning of the concept getting tainted. This leaves knowledge around this topic warped. And as a result, it is not unlikely to find that there are plenty of myths about imposter syndrome.
What You Didn’t Know About Imposter Syndrome
Along with imposter syndrome comes feelings that we really are not as smart or as capable as our achievements portray us to be. There’s usually a sense of being thrown into the deep end of the pool and needing to learn to swim. But at this moment, we don’t just question whether we could survive. In a fundamental way, we ask ourselves if we were ever swimmers. We fear that it’s only a matter of time before we “get caught” parading as what we really aren’t.
This can be a really daunting phase for most of us. And as a result of this, we find ourselves frantically searching for ways to overcome this imposter syndrome. But what if imposter syndrome really isn’t the villain? What if it could be the yin to your yang, one of the hallmarks of progress?
What if the story you heard or the scenario you created in your mind about getting to a point where you no longer have to feel those occasional sudden jolts back to reality with the “what am I doing here question” on your tongue tip isn’t true? As much as we hate to admit, reality has it that as you go up your success ladder, as you crush more and more of your goals, you’ll continue to feel like you’re projecting someone else’s work and that you’re not “fit to wear the crown“. With each step you take upward, you’ll continue to feel like your achievements somehow led you into a space that is way bigger than you.
How then do you expect yourself to get rid of this thing that seems to be a constant companion on your life’s journey?
Myths About Imposter Syndrome
To build, expand or increase whatever it is that you have going on, time would come when you’ll need to seek out the services of people that are far more extraordinary than you are. In these moments, you will have many opportunities to feel like the smallest person in the room. Moments like these are times imposter syndrome rears its head with the “I’m probably not as smart as everyone else thinks I am” feeling.
In these moments, we respond in either of the following two things:
- We feel a subtle pressure to work harder to prevent others from recognizing our shortcomings or failures and also to prove to ourselves that we are worthy of the roles we’ve been given, or
- We allow ourselves to get overwhelmed with feelings of insignificance and as a result, do all we can to avoid being in the spotlight so we don’t “get caught“.
Your response to imposter syndrome, however, depends on the knowledge you have gathered about the concept. To ensure you act in informed actions and take informed steps, we’ll explore certain myths about imposter syndrome and debunk what imposter syndrome is not. These false ideologies (myths about imposter syndrome) might be the reason you constantly feel inadequate, preventing you from leaning into your natural genius.
The most confident people don’t experience imposter syndrome
Those people that you look up to or admire as really confident or successful are not immune to imposter syndrome. As a matter of fact, they are even more likely to experience imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is not a phenomenon that only those yet to achieve much experience.
We often get tempted to think that the fact that we haven’t done a lot is the reason why we feel like imposters. But in an actual sense, the more things you achieve, the more you are likely to feel like an imposter. It could even get to a point where your further accomplishments begin to produce a counter effect. And you might begin to consider them as nothing more than the product of your efforts to maintain the “illusion” of your success.
You don’t get to a stage or height where your achievements outrun this feeling (mission impossible). What’s more, high achievers are highly susceptible to feeling like imposters. So paradoxically, the fact that you experience imposter syndrome pretty much proves that you aren’t an imposter. True imposters really do not have this feeling.
Interestingly, there is an opposing phenomenon, the Dunning Kruger effect, a cognitive bias that leads people to believe they are more competent than they actually are.
Only those who grew up in families that placed a big emphasis on achievement feel like imposters
This is an absolute fallacious statement. The feeling of being an imposter has little or nothing to do with childhood. Those whose families didn’t care so much about achievements while growing up are still susceptible to feelings of imposter syndrome.
The imposter syndrome phenomenon isn’t a concept that is restricted to only a certain group of people. However, while everybody can experience imposter syndrome, not everybody does.
Toxic workplaces are the cause of Imposter Syndrome
While the environment could influence and trigger imposter syndrome, they are not the origin of these feelings. Toxic workplaces, people, and cultures can be huge triggers for Imposter Syndrome. But changing jobs or removing toxicity from the workplace may not make your Imposter feelings simply disappear.
This is because imposter syndrome is usually more about you than about the environment.
Imposter Syndrome is a good thing and/or keeps you humble
Feeling like an intellectual fake, phony, or fraud is not motivating, it’s debilitating at times. Working harder, pushing yourself to ‘prove yourself’ or to ‘outrun’ your Imposter Syndrome is a dangerous pursuit. Because you cannot outrun these emotions and thoughts. You rather need to reconfigure your belief about them.
Living and working with Imposter feelings is guaranteed to keep your stress levels high. This can inhibit your ability to switch off, rest, and avoid burnout. Most of all, it robs you of the joy of each wonderful step you’re taking.
The solution to imposter syndrome is awareness and positive thinking
You might have been advised a couple of times (either by a friend, family, or through an article online) that to overcome imposter syndrome, you just have to “be more aware,” “talk it over with a friend,” or “think more positively.”
But if you’re really honest with yourself, how long does it take before you get back to feeling like an imposter? It’s almost as though you got just a temporary fix and not the actual solution.
Talk about a letdown!
Building A System Around Imposter Syndrome
At this point, you’re probably wondering if you’re gonna have to live with feelings of being an imposter for the rest of your growth journey. The honest answer to this is YES. Because, in an actual sense, none of those positive thinking is gonna get rid of this feeling.
But this doesn’t have to be a torturous journey.
What if imposter syndrome is not meant to be dealt with? What if it is a very valuable feature with a specific role that completes your system – the yin to your yang?
Experiencing imposter syndrome likely means that you are outside your comfort zone. This is the secret clue that you’re headed in the right direction. It’s like an internal radar. This is, however, an entirely different reality from the thinking that these imposter feelings keep you ‘on the ball’ or keep you ‘hungry for success’.
Seeing these imposter feelings as a valuable feature gives you an advantage. It allows you the ability to channel these emotions and make them productive rather than a hindrance. Shift your focus from wanting to be the best person in the room to being open to new information. This is a plus to your learning and growth. You may also need to stop shying away from failure even though it scares you.
Eventually, you’ll get to see that it would be a lot more beneficial to make imposter syndrome work for you, instead of channeling energy into suppressing, overcoming, or getting rid of it like it were a bug. Imposter syndrome is something that can be harnessed and leveraged. Stay motivated by your goals, competence, learning ability, and confidence, rather than the constant battle with Imposter Syndrome.
Also Read: Reasons Why You Should Have A Pet