Imposter Syndrome: Recognizing It and Learning to Cope

For as long as I can remember I have struggled with not feeling good enough or feeling unworthy of my accomplishments. I found that I often doubted myself and I noticed that these feelings grew stronger after I started college. I thought I didn’t deserve to be at this school, and I didn’t think I deserved anything that was happening around me. It wasn’t until recently that I found out what I was feeling had a name: imposter syndrome. It goes by a lot of names, but the word “syndrome” downplays it considering just how universal it is. It can be reassuring to know that many other people also deal with these emotions. 

In clear terms, imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern that causes the individual to doubt themselves, their skills and their accomplishments. This can come from an internalized fear of being seen as a fraud. These feelings can greatly affect everyday activities and cause us to be cautious and afraid of moving forward in any settings we may excel in. Whether it be in the workplace, at your school, in social interactions and in romantic relationships, imposter syndrome can immensely affect our daily lives throughout all areas.

It is important to be able to know how to recognize these emotions are happening and how to successfully cope with them – notice how I said cope. Getting rid of these thoughts are practically impossible but learning to use them to propel us forward rather than leave us paralyzed is something that we can learn to do. 

A lot of the ways we can begin to recognize imposter syndrome in our lives is paying attention to how we treat ourselves and our mind. Talking down about ourselves and constantly comparing ourselves to others can be a clear indicator that imposter syndrome is coming into play in our lives. Another indicator is if you find yourself dwelling on the past and constantly thinking about the endless “what if” scenarios. This can also lead to anxiety and in some cases make it worse. Constantly belittling ourselves and not giving ourselves credit for all that we do aid in strengthening negative emotions, which in return make it harder to deal with them. Being able to recognize and come to terms with what is going on inside your mind is the first step to being able to overcome these emotions. So, at the end of the day, be kind to yourself! Know that these thoughts will happen, but you have complete control over how and if you let them have any effect on your life. 

It’s easy to spot when you’re going through pits of self-doubt and realize it’s happening to you, but the hard part is knowing what to do about it! I still constantly struggle with the thoughts of self-doubt and comparing myself to others which can often get the best of me. However, one of the things that I have learned and stands out the most is that it is simply best to talk about it. Staying silent and fighting these thoughts by yourself is lonely and it makes you feel helpless. It is easy to feel like you are alone in this battle and that no one understands what you are going through, but the truth is you’re not alone! So many people feel exactly what you’re feeling and sometimes the reassurance that we are not alone is all we need to keep us pushing forward. 

It is important to increase awareness that these experiences are common, and we shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about them or share our own encounters with it. Being open builds confidence and helps you realize that you are worthy, you are capable, and you belong!