Author: Marlayne Janes
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome is defined as the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
I get to be creative and work with an amazing team of women. Two weeks ago, I was assigned the task of writing this blog. It’s my first time contributing with words instead of designs so naturally I waited until the day before it was due to get started.
My topic – Imposter Syndrome.
Let’s just backtrack here. I’m only getting started on the actual fingers to the keyboard part the day before it’s due, but it has been two weeks of thinking about what I’m going to say. How do I approach it? Do I use humour? Can I handle the judgement? Do I even know what I’m talking about? Am I an Impostor? Do I have Imposter Syndrome? The anxiety is real!
While some of these reactions can be normal when assigned a new task, there are other factors to consider.
Women today are still faced with gender biases.
- Women are underrepresented in leadership roles in business and politics.
- Women are still more likely to live in poverty, struggle with self-esteem, be abused by a violent partner, be paid less, be less likely to be promoted, etc., etc., etc.
Some of these biases are rooted in our upbringing, culture, and personality but let’s not overlook the fact that they are also rooted in systemic biases. This is even more so for minorities and the BIPOC community.
In my own personal life, I can recall many stories of being told you’re too smart, you’re not smart enough, you’re too pretty, you’re not pretty enough, you’re too big, you’re too small, you didn’t do anything to deserve it (good grades, jobs, etc.), you didn’t work hard enough, blah, blah, blah!
These biases are so deep rooted into our systems that most of these comments came from other women. No wonder some of us still have moments where we question what it is we truly deserve and can accomplish.
Here's the good news! We can take responsibility and work towards not feeling like an imposter AND we can help other women to do the same.
How do we Overcome Imposter Syndrome?
While there is much work to be done on “fixing” environments and systems that lead to gender inequality, lets focus on some things we can do as individuals:
- Find a mentor – For work or for hobbies, find someone that is doing work you admire and ask if they would be interested in being your mentor.
- Recognize that you are the expert on YOU – You are the only expert on YOU. You know your strengths and weaknesses. Put in the work it takes to get to know what works and where you can improve.
- Overcome your need to be and do things perfectly – Perfectionism is overrated. Sometimes we have to let it go for the sake of progress.
- Reframe the stories you tell yourself – Take one story at a time and “reframe” it in a more positive light. In other words, look for the lessons that are a better reflection for your future self.
- Therapy or a Life Coach – Sometimes the best thing we can do for ourselves is seek out help from a professional.
- Meditation – Quite the mind and connect with yourself on a deeper level. This can be done alone or find a group.
- Physical Exercise and Healthy Eating – This needs no explanation. A healthy lifestyle is directly connected to feeling good about ourselves.
- BE THE MENTOR – This is where we can help other women! Seek out ways to lift other women through volunteer work or simply with a kind word of encouragement!
I will leave you with a personal story.
I was a participant in a yearlong study conducted at a university on being a single mother. At the very first interview I was asked if there was any advice that I would give myself or other mothers about being a single mom. Off the top of my head, I said, “Believe in yourself, trust in who you are.”
Fast forward to my last interview I was asked the same question. Again, off the top of my head, not remembering that I had been asked the same question 12 months previous, I said the exact same thing! The interviewer played it back to me on a recording.
I believe this to be great advice for myself and other women, it’s just trying to remember it in our moments of doubt!