Bursting the Imposter Bubble: Do it today!

Author: Athira Premarajan

Imposter Syndrome (IS) or Impostorism is a common word heard against the erstwhile glass ceilings. As offices start to spruce up their gender ratio, certain barriers are still holding individuals back, preventing them from coming out of their comfort bubbles. And this syndrome accounts to having lower participation from individuals with high potential, leading to underutilization of skills and talents. How about we burst it today?

Understanding IS is easy. Do you really wish you had taken that opportunity to emcee at the office cultural event but eventually backed out saying you have other priorities? Did you miss taking an offer on-site for a reason that doesn’t even make sense? Do you feel overwhelmed when you are put right into a critical project that disturbs your routine way of work? Easy there, it is common. Having a feeling of extreme estrangement when you have the potential and qualification to be where you are, it can be the IS acting up. Surprising fact, it is more prevalent in high-achieving individuals who tend to exceed the expectations of others and it is gender agnostic. A study published by National Library of Medicine estimates more than 80% of adults experiencing IS at some points in their life.

So, what can this really do to your professional life? IS can actually make you believe that your luck got you that job. It can also make you feel that the job that you are doing is unsatisfactory which can further lead to burnout and avoid seeking any kind of promotion or upward movement in the career trajectory. Not to mention the effects on one’s mental health, IS causes depression, anxiety, shame, and lack of self-confidence. As per research, there are prominently five types of “imposters”, identified by Dr. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It. Expert, perfectionist, natural genius, soloist, and superheroes are the five types of imposters and strikingly, self-explanatory!

In retrospective, research also has answers to overcoming IS effectively. Here is an easy way to get started with the ACT approach:

  1. Acknowledge Early

The first and foremost step is to recognize and acknowledge the fact that you are having imposter feelings. Self-awareness helps in mitigating any high risks of IS. This can help in applying appropriate strategies to overcome the situation in the early stages.

  1. Communicate Openly

Sharing your feelings with a trusted acquaintance is the next step. But ensure that you select them wisely for getting help in developing a wise perspective of your condition. Better than this would be seeking the help of a professional and knowing that it is okay to consult a professional who helps you with your mental health.

  1. Tackle Wisely

Recognizing your abilities and realizing that no one can be that “perfect” person is the first step here. Stop comparing yourself to others, instead learn what they did differently for reaching their goals. Identify what your strengths are and add on to it, through continuous learning. And understand your weakness and work on it.

It is important to understand that your perceptions may be just your thoughts and not the reality. If you are not able to recognize it yourself, seek help for a clarity on your path forward.