So…what exactly is Imposter Syndrome? And, why does it happen? How do we combat it?Imposter Syndrome is better known as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. It is a persisting feeling of self doubt, inadequacy, and can lead to serious repercussions if left to fester. Those suffering from it may experience daily stress, anxiety, even depression. It can be quite debilitating, and pushes those experiencing it into submissiveness. Whether they are job searchers, or employed, those suffering from Imposter Syndrome tend to yield to the present situation. They become compliant to their current circumstances, and fail to pursue those opportunities that are new, better, more promising.
Why does Imposter Syndrome happen?
It really is a multidimensional problem, so, rather than go through all the different factors, I will share my experience. I have noted commonly shared traits among those in the tech industry, that, if left unchecked, can encourage these feelings of inadequacy to bubble up. But first, let me back up and talk briefly about the environment that fosters these harmful feelings. The tech industry is competitive, demands perfection, and facilitates a huge group of overachievers. Oftentimes, we are compared to our coworkers by evaluating our individual impact on the company and/or product. Many in tech become engulfed in this method of comparison, and it can become quite daunting, to say the least. Possessing a competitive spirit can certainly be a strength. However, it depends on our ability to internalize and accept success that can foster growth in the tech world or encourage the self doubt to rise to the surface.
How do we treat Imposter Syndrome?
There are many ways to help give yourself the validation that you are exactly where you belong. One method involves seeking out a mentor; another person can be quite helpful to provide validation of your valuable contributions. Affirmation of your success helps break the never-ending comparison cycle that the tech industry tends to foster. Others mark goals for themselves and record their successes. This helps encourage positive thinking, and provides that self validation of your contributions and capabilities.
I personally encountered imposter syndrome that left me submissive to my company. I would watch coworkers move on to bigger, better things and would feel my heart sink as I felt I was incapable of following that lead. For me, the interview process was daunting, and even though I was comfortable in my role, I was not in the idea of one on one examination. “Surely, the interviewers would catch on that I am a fraud…” The fear of rejection paralyzed me into staying put. Only recently did I decide to break free and began prepping for interviews, with the mindset that I would try interviewing for smaller companies. It wouldn’t matter if I failed. I began to see acceptance, enthusiasm, and excitement about the work I had been doing. I saw the desire for fresh talent and the perspectives that I had accumulated from my personal experience in industry. This gave me the validation that I had something to offer. Now, I am filling the same shoes of those I had watched take their leave towards brighter futures. I implore those who feel like they are inadequate to take proactive steps towards a healthier mindset.
Keep moving forward, look at your accomplishments and how far you’ve come.Remember to give yourself a pat on the back and keep in mind that there is no harm in trying. You might just surprise yourself.
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