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Imposter Syndrome: What It Is and How to Overcome It

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Ottawa chapter.

“Imposter Syndrome” is classified as…

An uncomfortable feeling one experiences when they feel as though they are incompetent and/or unqualified.

This feeling can occur when starting out in a new job opportunity or even when making friends for the first time (or the first time in a while). In my own circle, I’ve noticed just how common this syndrome is, and it may just have something to do with the big “break” many have gotten from this pandemic. Now that some of us have entered (or re-entered) the workforce or are starting to mingle more than we have been since before the start of the pandemic, we might be extra hard on ourselves because of how long it’s been.

However, maybe listening to that gut instinct is important if you truly are finding your responsibilities to be too difficult or draining (and the same can be said about the people you surround yourself with). But more times than not, those who experience imposter syndrome are simply overly critical towards themselves and overanalyze how others think about or view them.

This article does not explain ways to boost your confidence and self-esteem. Instead, we’ll share two ways we can all ditch the question of “am I good enough here?” and not even give it the time of day in the upcoming milestones we face in our lives!

Recently, I started this new, what I like to call a “big girl job.” During my first week on the job, I had been given so many acronyms, names, faces, job titles, and responsibilities to learn; I was overwhelmed. I took it upon myself to try and refrain from negative self-talk but nothing seemed to help–until I figured out a time management hack that’s perfect for visual learners and planners like me!

Sure, telling yourself “everything will work out” can be helpful enough on its own, but if you’ve been on the search for a unique way to hold yourself accountable for your own thoughts and manifest the right kind of energy into your life during a crisis, look no further!

Step one: Make a Timeline

Get out your calendar, everyone, because we are about to have control over our thoughts for the next month or so!

Mark down on your calendar your start date of whatever it is that’s sparking imposter syndrome within you. You can mark it down with a sticker or even just a marker. From there, mark exactly a week after that date, then two weeks, then three, and then four. Feel free to keep the marks on your calendar going until two months or even longer if you are approaching a very big and stressful milestone that requires more than one month to adjust to. Even marking down a week before your start date may be helpful to ensure you have time to mentally plan for that moment!

Your calendar should, to start, be filled with each weekly goal you have for yourself. Having these goals in place will make your stay at the new job or friend group way more purposeful than just being uncomfortably there and being very down on yourself. At the start of each new week, start it with an open mind as you reflect on the goals you had set out to accomplish (as marked in your calendar!). Here’s an example…

My Calendar’s Timeline

Start date of my “big girl job” – July 11th, 2022

I am trying to learn.

  • I will actively listen and take notes as needed.
  • I will look at and save any important information they give me that will come in handy in the future.
  • I will ask questions, send emails/messages, and call all numbers that I need to (without hesitation) because I know that being a new employee is not being a burden.

1st week at “big girl job” – July 18th, 2022

I am learning.

  • I am taking things one day at a time.
  • I am putting into action all that my co-workers have taught me.
  • I am practicing my role and responsibilities the best that I know how.

2nd week at “big girl job” – July 25th, 2022

I am present.

  • In meetings, I am participating whenever I have something to add or ask.
  • I am keeping in touch with my colleagues.

3rd week at “big girl job” – August 1st, 2022

Everything’s making sense to me.

  • I know and understand all of the acronyms that I didn’t know before.
  • I know and understand the work that my colleagues do for me and others.
  • I know and understand all other important information that was shared with me at the beginning.

4th week at “big girl job” – August 8th, 2022

I am comfortable with what’s asked of me.

  • I no longer need to ask questions for every little thing; I am able to troubleshoot with the knowledge I’ve gained this month.
  • I understand and genuinely believe that the job of my colleagues is to help me just as much as it is my job to listen to their teachings, help them if ever they need it, and try my best.


If this overwhelming feeling persists beyond the three-month period, seeking professional help should take top priority to understand if this syndrome is more than just imposter syndrome experienced by the vast majority of people.

Now it’s time for the even more fun part which is recharging and rewarding yourself for all your hard work (because yes, you do deserve it!).

Step two: recharge and reward

When tackling a new venture or milestone, things can feel very isolating and scary. What I’ve found helps a lot when combatting negative energy and leaving room for success to flow into your life is recharging and rewarding yourself. Even if for accomplishing just one of the goals you had set for yourself each week from the day you started at the new job, friend group, etc.!

Recharging looks like taking time away from everyone and everything that overwhelms you, taking deep breaths in and out, investing your time and energy into relaxing, then doing things that you enjoy doing and that you know you’re good at!

Rewarding looks like moving your body, eating something healthy, splurging on a meal out somewhere, or having a couple of scoops of ice cream as you watch Only Murders in the Building on Hulu! Whatever makes you happy and gives you encouragement to keep going… do that!

My calendar’s r&r

Start date of my “big girl job” – July 11th, 2022

I did my best to grasp what was being taught/shared with me.


I’ll be taking a walk outside during my lunch breaks and catching the full moon on July 13th.


I’ll be making and eating the homemade vegan Oreo cake that I haven’t had in a while.

1st week at “big girl job” – July 18th, 2022

I have learned a lot this week.


I’m prioritizing me-time”while reading a book and trying a new face mask.


I’m allowing myself to sleep in a little longer in the mornings and going to bed a little earlier.

2nd week at “big girl job” – July 25th, 2022

I gave myself a voice.


I’m prioritizing exercising after I’m off of work and making sure that my desk remains tidy.


I’m going shopping for some new work supplies to spice up my work-from-home setup!

3rd week at “big girl job” – August 1st, 2022

I’ve come a long way!


I’m going to invest time into learning how to paint. First stop: Micheal’s Arts & Crafts Store (or maybe Walmart?)… We’re living on a budget here!


I’m going to give my bedroom a nice little makeover and maybe splurge on some new summer outfits!

4th week at “big girl job” – August 8th, 2022

I am more comfortable than I was when I started.


I’m limiting my screen time before and after work hours.


I’m practicing positive self-talk and gratitude every morning before work.

Final Words

Hopefully, those two steps have given you a good example of how we can all get the success we’re striving for, even when experiencing impostor syndrome when we face change. Moreover, we hope that this gives new workers, students, and friends the chance to be easy on themselves as well as those around them because we all experience the same discomfort and negativity—whether that be from ourselves or experienced by others.

The “Overcoming Imposter Syndrome” Motto: Be easy on yourself and others because we’re all going through it; we’ll all make it to the much happier and less-stressful side of things.

Emily Crandall

U Ottawa '24

University of Ottawa Alumna