Imposter Syndrome: What It Is and How to Avoid It

Most of us have been there: walking into the first day of a difficult class or a new internship or job and feeling like you’re completely not qualified to be there. Luckily, this feeling is common, and it’s called imposter syndrome.

 

Psychology Today describes imposter syndrome as a psychological phenomena in which people are unable to properly internalize their accomplishments, leading them to fear they will be exposed as a failure or fraud. People will often measure their successes to be products of luck, good timing, and made possible by the help of others.

 

We’ve felt it, especially as young people just getting started in our professional careers. Here’s how we’ve squashed those feelings.

 

  1. Remember that you were hired for a reason. If your employer did not believe that you were capable of carrying out the responsibilities of your new position, they likely would not have welcomed you to the team.

  2. Dress for respect (and how YOU feel most powerful)! A good rule is to see how everyone else dresses, and then dress a liiiiittle bit nicer than that. I’m a firm believer in the “look good-feel good” philosophy, so if I am feeling particularly like I don’t belong or deserve my job, I’ll wear a nicer outfit to boost my confidence.

  3. Fake it until you make it! The more confidence you exude, the more confidence you’ll feel. An amazing trick is to carry yourself like you’re walking down a runway. Chin up, shoulders back, smiling. It does WONDERS for your confidence. (I wouldn’t have made it through my first week at the state house without this life hack! -Kate)

  4. Talk about it! Chances are many other students, interns, and employees around you are feeling the same way! Sharing some jokes with others in your same position will help you feel less alone.

  5. Even if you feel symptoms of imposter syndrome, even acknowledging that you know these feelings are not reflective of reality can help.

  6. If you feel like an imposter in a school setting, focus on your current accomplishments. Dwelling on the statistics that helped you get into the school (like GPA and SAT scores) will keep you focused on your current position. Try to focus instead on how well you’re currently doing, and where that will take you next!

 

Above all, please remember to reach out to your supervisors, school advisors, and friends if you are struggling with this. It can feel overwhelming, but you are more than deserving of what you have accomplished.