Recently during one of my “Ask Me Anything” sessions on Instagram, I received a lot of questions surrounding “How do I stop feeling like an imposter?” It got me thinking, and I wonder if we’re using the wrong word. I use the term imposter syndrome because that’s what people understand, but when I think of an imposter, I think of Leonardo DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can.
In that movie DiCaprio pretended to be a pilot, a doctor, and a whole host of other things. He had no training or background in the roles he was hopping into. Yet, here we are fully educated, with years of experience in what we’re doing and we’re saying we feel like imposters.
There are two questions we should ask ourselves when we’re feeling like imposters:
Do I know what I’m doing, or do I have the skills and knowledge to figure it out?
Do I have the experience for what this phase of life or new role is demanding?
If the answer to these questions is yes, maybe it’s not imposter syndrome. Qualified people aren’t imposters. Maybe we are just uncomfortable being in roles where we don’t have mentors, or roles where we are the first in our family or friend group to do what we’re doing. Maybe we’re uncomfortable being in positions that we’ve never been in before.
Furthermore, imposters feel no remorse about occupying roles they have no position taking on. We have all come across someone who has a job they don’t actually deserve. They don’t walk around feeling bad about being paid for doing a job they know nothing about. Yet here we are doing the real work that we’ve studied and worked toward and we’re feeling badly. Just the fact that you are experiencing imposter syndrome is a sign that you are not an imposter.
We have to remind ourselves that we are prepared and equipped to do the job we’ve been tasked with fulfilling. We may be uncomfortable because a new position or new phase of life is pushing us to new heights, but that doesn’t make us imposters. An imposter is someone who is pretending. We are not pretending. We know how to do the job. It may be outside of our comfort zone, but we are not imposters just because we are uncomfortable.
When have you experienced imposter syndrome? When you look back on it, were you actually feeling like an imposter or were you uncomfortable stepping into a new role?
What are your qualifications? What has life prepared you to do?
Stressful News Cycle Tips: 13 Ways to Protect Your Mental Health, by Carolyn L. Todd in SELF.
I would love to hear more about your experience with imposter syndrome in the comments.
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