Impostorism is a topic I have wanted to cover for a while. With the influx of recent graduates making their grand debut into the job market, many young professionals may relate to the feeling of impostorism. Especially in regards to social media, where the majority of people only post their highlight reels and not their less than glamorous behind-the-scenes, the comparison game is real.
What is impostor syndrome?
For those who may not know, impostor syndrome, (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience), is defined as, "a psychological pattern in which a person doubts their accomplishments, and has persistent, internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud."
Roughly 70% of the world population experiences impostor syndrome, across race, gender, age, etc. Impostorism is noted in high-achievers. While impostor syndrome isn’t subjected to one group of people, researchers note it typically affects women more than men. More, its presence increases among minorities.
Impostor syndrome sometimes manifests as indecision -- which stems from the fear of failure and rejection. The fear of not being good enough and perceived as fraudulent increases in attempts to move goals forward, lending way for the individual to strike themselves down before even given a chance.
With that said, this time last year, I was riddled with impostorism. I had NO idea how to fit myself into the 9-5 mold and was convinced there were no other viable career paths (and I am not, by any means, a 9-5 kind of gal).
Everyone around me *seemed* to have their next steps charted, and I hadn't a clue. I felt so unworthy of my degree, accomplishments, and the support given to me along the way.
What I found even more deflating, which only fueled the feeling of impostorism, was answering the loaded question from family members about my next-step plans. In most cases, there's a "right" and a "wrong" answer to the "what's next?!" question -- a pointed expectation that you should have more achievements and goals in hot pursuit.
I wanted freedom - to live a life of my own creation. However, I wasn't sure how to accomplish this, and a career pathway embodying freedom isn't the "right" response. In the gloomy haze of late February 2019, I made the decision to start my virtual assistant business -- almost 6 months after receiving my degree.
It took eons to step into this decision because of the plethora of limiting beliefs I held:
How to overcome impostor syndrome
It’s critical to remember when encountering feelings of doubt in your capabilities is that you aren't the only person who has felt the same way. In fact, Maya Angelou and Albert Einstein divulged uncertainties in their accomplishments.
Below are some methods to overcome impostor syndrome:
If your journey doesn't resemble the crowds, it doesn't mean that you're lost. Even if your path looks like graduation delays, a job outside of corporate America, or frankly, if you don't have/plan on getting a degree, remember:
Your path and journey are uniquely yours, and you don't need other people's permission to live a remarkable life on your terms.