Internalize Success: 5 Steps to Confronting Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace

Reviewing my first job offer letter overwhelmed me with excitement and anxiety all at once.

I had spent months feverishly searching for a job that would allow me to grow into the skills I honed in on during my academic studies, but had begun doubting my experience after receiving rejection emails and failing to hear back from employers altogether.

Reading through the offer letter, I was grateful for the opportunity and excited to begin the next chapter of my life. But as my start date grew closer, my mindset shifted, and I started to question what this employer saw in me.

I anxiously stepped into my new role, working alongside professional with significantly more experience than me. Almost immediately after starting, I found myself thinking, “I don’t belong here.”

I’ve since learned that a lot of successful professionals can start to feel like a fraud at some point in their career, constantly trying to finding ways to increase their value and questioning their qualifications despite being high achievers.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

“I’m not supposed to be here” is a powerfully evocative feeling that can emerge and bring an immense sense of self-doubt. It’s called Imposter Syndrome: the fear of being discovered as a fraud with limited skills despite evidence proving otherwise.

I internalized this fear and tip toed around my workplace convinced that someone would eventually figure out that I was an imposter who didn’t actually know what I was doing or talking about.

This mindset was dominating, and although I was praised for my contributions and accomplishments, I was still plagued by feelings of self-doubt. I never thought I lacked confidence in my abilities, but Imposter Syndrome was shaping up to be a valid experience that affected even the highest of achievers.

Confronting Imposter Syndrome

Maya Angelou once wrote:

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find me out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”

Realizing that feeling fraudulent is something everyone endures, was comforting. I started to take note of the times I de-emphasized my successes and placed more value on the accomplishments of others.

This was my first step to confronting Imposter Syndrome. I started seeking advice from more seasoned professionals and began learning more ways to cope with Imposter Syndrome. Let’s take a look:

  1. Embrace the syndrome. Once those feelings of self-doubt set it, acknowledge them! Use them to understand where those feelings are coming from.
  2. Own your accomplishments. Write them down. Say them out loud. Whichever methods work best for you, find a way to take ownership of your success.
  3. Stop trying to be perfect! The goal isn’t to be perfect at your job. Making mistakes doesn’t mean you’re not skilled or capable. Learn from them and use them as stepping stones.
  4. Fake it till you make it. Use the power of posing to fake your confidence until it becomes your reality.
  5. Lean on support systems. Family, friends, or professional networks, identify people you trust to talk about these feelings out loud instead of internalizing self-doubt.

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About Author

Jenna is a digital storyteller based in the San Francisco Bay Area using media and design to help increase opportunities in the tech sector. Follow her on Twitter @JennaNichelle94