Coined in the late ‘70s, the term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ refers to a fear many high-functioning adults have of being exposed as a phony. If you’ve ever told yourself you weren’t good enough— even in the face of accomplishment— then congratulations! You’re one of the 70% of people (and I’m willing to bet that’s severely lowballing it) who have suffered from it at some point in their lives.
Academy Award winning screen goddess Kate Winslet once said, “I’d wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud.” She isn’t the only wildly successful human to have been struck by this notion; besides being hella rich, a common thread—maybe the common thread— tying together the likes of Tina Fey, Chris Martin, Don Cheadle, Denzel Washington, and MERYL STREEP, among others, is that they’ve all at one point thought themselves altogether unworthy of such success.
But while imposter syndrome is an indisputably universal affliction, studies have shown that it is especially prevalent among women. If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve landed a new job but you’re feeling like maybe they made some sort of horrid mistake in bringing you on (how could anybody hire you? You can’t even do your laundry properly) I’m here to tell you to shut that inner voice the fuck up immediately. Here’s how.
1. First off, drop that goddamn ego.
“What?! My ego isn’t the problem, my insecurity is, idiot!” you may be furiously typing in the comments section right now. Don’t call me an idiot— I will delete your comments, and let me explain: you’re only going to feel like a fraud if you think you’re more important than you are. What, you think you conned your way into this awesome new gig? Who do you think you are, Bernie Madoff? Come off it.
2. OWN it.
Remember; “there is special providence in the fall of a sparrow.” In other words, coincidences don’t just happen. You did this. You made all this happen for yourself. You achieved this new job. This rad opportunity is not luck, it is the accumulation of all the little steps you’ve been taking to get to this point.
Unsurprisingly, women are more likely to attribute their successes to external factors whereas men do just the opposite, viewing their accomplishments as the direct result of perseverance or talent or just plain smarts. Stop giving yourself and all other chicks a bad name. OWN YOUR SUCCESS.
3. Say “it’s imposter syndrome” out loud.
It’s so much easier to cope with self-doubt when you can just blame it on a legit clinical phenomenon.
4. Better still, say “I feel like a phony” to somebody who cares about you.
That way, they can tell you how silly you’re being and how much you deserve to be where you are. Everyone needs a little ego stroke sometimes.
5. Try some stream-of-consciousness writing.
Sit down with a pen and paper and just start writing. Why do you feel like such a fraud? If you can’t think of anything, write that. Write “I can’t think of anything and I’m writing about how I can’t think of anything” repeatedly and you’ll eventually write something different, I promise. I tried this exercise and realized my ‘reasons’ for feeling like a phony read like a toddler’s tantrum, I’m talking like “the other kids gave me a weird look at the playground” type of situation.
It’s important to throw your emotions into words, even if the words don’t make sense.
6. Realize that literally nobody has any idea what they are doing.
Michael Jordan wasn’t accepted to his high school’s varsity basketball team. Dr. Seuss’ first book was rejected by 27 publishers, twice as many who believed J.K. Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rubbish. Everyone thought Albert Einstein was mentally handicapped for the majority of his childhood. Stephen King, Jerry Seinfeld, Abe Lincoln, Vincent van Gogh, Walt Disney, Steven Spielberg…all got rejected.
So what’s the worst that can happen? You get fired? Who cares! Oprah got fired from her first TV job as a news anchor in Baltimore. Nobody knows what they’re doing.
7. Stop comparing yourself to others.
You are on a separate life path from literally everyone else on this earth because you are the only you there is. That means you are an apple, and everyone else is an orange/all the other fruits there are. It doesn’t make any sense and it’ll just make you feel bad.
As author Iyanla Vanzant once said, “comparison is an act of violence against the self.” Stop hating yourself! Don’t you think enough people already hate you? Ha ha, kidding, just a little light-hearted humor for you.
Now go forth and prosper, you beautiful angel snowflake, you.