You fought hard to get your job in the first place. You've worked hard, and maybe you've even been promoted. So why does it feel like it's only a matter of time before the whole office finds out you've been faking it all along?
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Maybe you struggle with imposter syndrome. It's the suffocating certainty that you're not good enough for the praise you're getting or the responsibilities you've taken on. You're constantly worried that you're a fraud, and every good thing that comes your way somehow makes it worse. Maybe you're hyper-organized to try and hide it with perfectionism; maybe you procrastinate to avoid confronting those feelings. But ultimately, there's no upside to imposter syndrome. It just ruins what should be a good thing for you.
Here's a secret: You're far from alone. And you're not a fraud. In fact, 70 percent of all people experience these fears at least some of the time. Actress Viola Davis has an Academy Award and feels this way. In fact, so do Amy Poehler, Meryl Streep, and Daniel Radcliffe. What's going on with all of us?
Psychologists say imposter syndrome happens when you can't internalize your own success. You may be ashamed that something is hard for you, or that you don't have all the information or skills you think people assume you do. Millennials especially can struggle from a lifetime of high expectations placed on us. It doesn't help that we often operate within a scarcity mindset; after all, we're coming of an age in a period of unemployment, underemployment, and the travails of the gig economy. This job is all or nothing — or is it?
That's a lot of pressure to put on yourself. So how can we let up on ourselves?
1) Compare yourself to just one person: past you.
It's easy to panic when "everyone else" seems to be getting married or rising in the ranks or taking that amazing vacation. First, remember that social media is the PR version of that person's life, and you're not getting the whole picture. But mostly, concentrate on your own growth. You are allowed to be a beginner, which means you're still learning a lot. Think about how much you've changed and accomplished month to month, or year to year. Make a list — you may surprise yourself by noticing how much more you can handle.
2) Focus on the present, and what you can do right now.
Worrying about something that's not guaranteed to happen, like your boss doing a 180 on hiring you, is time you could be using to do your job well. If your fear feels overwhelming, one good trick is simply to break down your goals into small, achievable tasks. Making lists is a good tactic for this too. So is journaling, to express what you may be bottling up.
3) Ask for help.
A therapist can offer guidance for dealing with Imposter Syndrome, but you should feel safe to ask for help in the office too. Your coworkers have their own expertise, which they're generally happy to share. (Think how happy you feel when you're seen as good at something.) Seeking out help is a sign of maturity, not weakness. Flip that nagging voice and consider this an opportunity to learn (and maybe make some new friends).
4) Trust your boss — and yourself.
Out of dozens, maybe even hundreds of candidates, your supervisors chose you because they believed you were the best person for the work. Let up on yourself! You've got this.