I have officially started my new job and so far, so good! I have been spending my time trying to navigate the subway (I’ve only had one mishap), setting up my office, and learning the ins and outs of my new department. I have also been very mindful about avoiding the many dangers of Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter syndrome (also known as imposter phenomenon) is a widely researched theory developed by psychologists Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, in the 1970s. The theory suggests that high achieving individuals are sometimes unable to accept and internalize the results of their success. Rather than attribute their success to hard work and ability, individuals with imposter syndrome attribute their success to external factors such as luck, and very often have an irrational fear that they will be found to be fraudulent.
In an excellent article imposter syndrome is described as follows:
“Imposter syndrome occurs when we feel like a fraud—when we feel that our successes are undeserved. We convince ourselves they’re based on luck, timing, or other factors outside of our control, instead of embracing the fact that we’re actually responsible for having made those successes happen. Imposter syndrome makes us think irrationally about our aptitudes and performance: We don’t believe we’ve excelled, and we don’t believe we deserve the rewards that come along with our success.”
Imposter syndrome is a real phenomenon, and like many others, I experienced a real dose of it during graduate school. Over the years through my various professional experiences, discussions with my peers, heart-to-heart conversations with friends, and sessions with clients I have realized that imposter syndrome is a very common experience. Unfortunately, it is rarely discussed and often leaves those who experience it feeling isolated.
Legends are not exempt from the feelings associated with imposter syndrome, in fact they are at a higher risk. As a result, it is important to recognize the signs that suggest you may be experiencing impostor syndrome (check out this article). Note that the feelings associated with imposter syndrome are not always persistent. On the contrary, they are sometimes fleeting, but can cause significant problems as we navigate new experiences.
Here are three tips on how to avoid imposter syndrome.
Be aware of how you internalize feedback- Admittedly, some of my toughest moments in graduate school came after tough feedback from my advisors , professors, and supervisors. Very often we fall into the trap of taking feedback about our work personally. Be sure not to interpret feedback as commentary about whether or not you belong. Use feedback to improve your work and get to the next level.
Avoid minimizing your qualifications/accomplishments- When asked to share your expertise don't shy away from making your qualifications known. Be confident about what you bring to the table. Share your accomplishments (e.g., promotions, awards) with others. It is important that others know what you are up to. By sharing your accomplishments you are letting people know you are growing, available, and open to new opportunities.
Check Yourself- Most importantly, remember that your acceptance into graduate school,
prestigious offer from the job of your dreams, seat at the table, and/or place at the front of the room is not by happenstance, luck, or the flip of a coin. Your tenacity, hard work, and preparation has propelled you to where you are now. You are where you belong; you deserve to be there and no can ever take that away from you.
Remeber, over the next few months I will be sharing every step of my journey of transition. I would love to hear about the current or upcoming changes in your life. Let's do this together! Comment below, or email me at email@example.com and let’s chat.