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5 Ways to Combat Imposter Syndrome at Career

Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

Imposter syndrome is a theory proposed in 1978 by Dr. Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Aderhold. The idea stated the syndrome symptoms are lack of confidence and feeling fraud intellectually. People who think they are an imposter will often attribute their success to luck while doubting their intelligence or feel like others are more skilled than they are.  

It is natural for people to feel a sense of imposter syndrome during their career time. This is especially true in the technology world, where people constantly need to learn new skills, and accomplishments are presented everywhere on social media. The pressure is high, and many individuals would doubt their achievements, making them feel like they do not deserve all the praise.

I am personally affected by the imposter syndrome in my career. I felt like everyone else was better than me, and I lacked skills. This makes my head spin, lose confidence over time, have sleepless nights, and have health problems. The technology field, especially my career (data science), could be cruel if not prepared. That is why I want to share my tips on combatting imposter syndrome with everyone who feels affected by it. I am not saying I fully recovered from it, but these tips might help alleviate some of the problems.

1. Acknowledge that imposter syndrome is common

When my imposter syndrome is acting up, I feel everyone is better than me, and nobody is going thru what I do. They are better, unique, and would judge me harshly if they found out I am not that skillful. To feel better, I sometimes share my thought on social media regarding my imposter syndrome, and people accept this situation. Some people are going thru the same thing. 

This is how I realize that I am not the only one going thru with imposter syndrome. Many of them are struggle with the same problems, and it is not easy for them as well. Acknowledge that imposter syndrome is common is the first step to feeling better. I am not alone, and so do everyone with the same problem. People that I talk with clearly have the same problem; it means we don’t need to feel ashamed or hard on ourselves.

2. Create a list of accomplishments

Imposter syndrome would make you feel all your accomplishments are nothing or a product of luck. I feel like a fraud a lot; my achievement is not worth it, or they are not as good as my peers. That is why creating a list of accomplishments is essential for me. I could look back on what I did and evaluate them thoroughly.

Why do I list my accomplishments? So I could evaluate them and judge whether this achievement came from my hard work or not, which everything comes from my hard work. For example, I feel the data project I did is not good enough because it is not as complex as the others in the field. Then I try to list it and break down my project by looking at its core and problem. By doing that, I could see my accomplishment objectively and not clouded by my feeling. 

Accomplishment could be the source of misery if we take them for granted. Keep a list of them and evaluate them when you feel down. By seeing it from a detailed picture, you understand why you could achieve the feat. 

3. Don’t compare yourself to others

Comparing myself to others would only raise my stress meter. There are only two possibilities when we compare our achievement to the others; either we feel superior to the other or inferior. With imposter syndrome, we would only feel inadequate all the time. I remember the feeling when I saw my friend who was younger than me but seemed better in every aspect if compared to me; it might not be accurate, but imposter syndrome dropped my confidence.

Realizing how bad I could become if I kept comparing myself to others, I tried my best to clear my mind and look at things objectively. It is hard to stop comparing ourselves to others; there is always a part of us that wants to feel better by looking at the other or questioning ourselves why we haven’t achieved some skills in our age. I am already better at controlling my own emotion not to compare myself, but sometimes it still happens. Keep trying not to compare ourselves, and it would get better someday.

4.  Keep learning new skills so you can improve your expertise

One reason we feel underconfidence is the lack of skill (or we think so).  The development in the world is so fast; it feels hard to keep up with it all the time. Furthermore, we always find people who know new skills ahead of us. This is the reality in the career, which is why people easily get inflicted by imposter syndrome. 

We need to improve all the time when we already choose our career path, not only for our career but also to combat imposter syndrome. Why do I say this? It is related to point number two I have mentioned previously. We could list our accomplishments and objectively evaluate them by the number of skills we learned by learning new skills. I love discovering a new skill, and it certainly helps me combat the imposter syndrome.

5. Practice self-compassion

You are trying your best to beat the imposter syndrome and accept mistakes would bound to happen. We are not perfect and would never be. The thing that sometimes makes our imposter syndrome show up is our perception that we would never amount to anything. That is why we need to practice self-compassion even if it is hard.

Even if my work is done amazingly, I always feel it was nothing. I remember my boss at that time told me to stop undermining my achievement because what I do is excellent, and little mistake is natural. At that moment, I felt like I needed to stop beating myself up and try to have more self-compassion; I could make mistakes, but it doesn’t mean my work is terrible. Without practicing self-compassion, we would feel awful all the time.

Conclusion

In a career,  people could easily affect by imposter syndrome. I am personally affected by the imposter syndrome and have trying to fight through the symptoms. Here are my five ways to combat imposter syndrome in my career:

  1. Acknowledge that imposter syndrome is common
  2. Create a list of accomplishment
  3. Don’t compare yourselves to the others
  4. Keep learning new skills
  5. Practice Self-Compassions

I hope it helps!

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