When we talk about imposter syndrome, we are discussing the doubt of your successes and the fear of others finding out you are a fraud. Though this syndrome is prevalent throughout society, it is still stigmatized. The lack of self-esteem and appreciation you have for yourself can often be seen as a negative quality. So while it seems that imposter syndrome might not be something we can get rid of, why not make it work for us?
Some of the side effects one may experience from imposter syndrome include overworking oneself, perfectionist tendencies and extreme diligence. When looking at each of these separately one might view them as strengths; more often than not, they are considered weaknesses. This isn’t a suggestion to support self-devaluation or low self-confidence, but there may be missed opportunities for growth if all imposter syndrome symptoms are seen as weaknesses. In the end, imposter syndrome may cause you to adopt behaviors leading to positive results – being more prepared, for instance. Recognizing and owning these symptoms may even make imposter syndrome work for you.
Now that we know that imposter syndrome can be played as an advantage, let’s talk about some of the insights explained in Cynthia Williams’ presentation gave at the Grace Hopper Celebration last fall, and how to use them to your advantage.
Before you can use imposter syndrome to your benefit, your confidence will require a boost. One commonly used method to achieve this is taking a “power pose.” This concept was used throughout the conference; based on research, a physical, large, wide, superhero stance (or pose) can increase confidence and help a person to feel empowered. This method is great to practice in situations where your imposter syndrome may flare up. If you are in a place where you cannot power pose take a couple deep breaths instead. Deep breathing calms the mind and body and can allow you to refocus on the task at hand.
Writing Down Goals
Accountability is a hard obstacle to overcome when facing tasks that aren’t immediately comfortable or easy. According to the presentation, simply taking the time to write these tasks and goals down on a piece of paper allows for a higher rate of accomplishment. This is a great method to practice if you are working on increasing your confidence and accountability.
As you build confidence, talk to others about work that is especially challenging. Building a support system of peers to work with on difficult projects is a form of self-help, but can also help those going through the same thing. The very act of sharing your work challenges is one of the BEST ways to defeat imposter syndrome.
One final, great way to help yourself and others is to share information, tips and insights with those around you. If you like this article or other material on the imposter syndrome, share it with your peers! Create a network of articles and books for yourself and others to reference when looking for inspiration and insight.
In conclusion, imposter syndrome doesn’t seem appealing on the surface but can easily be spun in a positive light. It may seem like something to get rid of or overcome, but why not use its existence as an advantage? Hopefully these steps will guide you through owning your imposter syndrome!
This post is the first in a series submitted by our 2018 Excellian Summer Associate, Anjali Shingala! Anjali was Excella’s summer associate with the myUSCIS team. Learn more about our Summer Associate Program – email us at [email protected].