How I Overcome Imposter Syndrome Every Single Day
Before I really go into how I personally overcome imposter syndrome each and every day, it would probably be a good idea to define what exactly is imposter syndrome. Wikipedia defines it as:
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
To put it in simple terms, it’s thinking that you’re a fake, when in reality, you’re more than likely not given how common this phenomenon is. To me imposter syndrome is an incredibly large obstacle. It’s the source of loss in motivation, or the source of discouragement. But every day, I pick myself back up and keep going, and this post is dedicated to how I do it. I don’t know how long it will actually be. In fact, I don’t really know when this article will be coming out. Over the course of the next couple days, if not weeks, I’ll add to this until I feel like it’ll provide enough value.
I want to start by identifying some of the symptoms of imposter syndrome that I find myself exhibiting on most days. Starting with the most obvious:
- Telling myself I’m not good enough. This usually happens when I’m the most vulnerable, such as a rejection, or a bug I just can’t figure out after hours and hours. This is usually followed by telling myself that everyone else is better than I am, which is, by the way, fundamentally different from being humble and believing that there’s always someone out there better than you. The latter is always true, the former, is usually not.
- Constantly feeling overwhelmed and never feeling caught up. Feeling behind is pretty common as of late. Especially like in my previous point, where I’m constantly comparing myself to my cohort mates who are already getting onsites and offers. I’m doing my best to send in applications, but I feel that I’m behind on CS concepts, and therefore not ready to apply to the more CS heavy companies.
- Not knowing enough. This relates back to the previous point, albeit with minor differences I won’t go into. But one of the difficulties I face is feeling like I’m unable to talk about the industry intelligently. Don’t worry, I’ve had my moments where this is proven wrong, but it feels more often than not that I get tongue-tied and brain farts.
Those are some pretty heavy feelings. The everyday battle. The constant feelings of inadequacy. The constant fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” I’m going to tell you how I overcome these pretty irrational feelings everyday. Hopefully at this point in the article, we’re going to make a dramatic turn from a tone of dejection, to a tone of motivation and inspiration, in hopes that you, my readers, can relate and draw comfort, as well as inspiration to how to battle your imposter syndrome.
- Sleep it off. I shit you not. Especially if it’s later at night, I sleep it off. This allows me to “reset” my mind, so to speak, and wake up with a new positive mindset. Usually after sleeping it off, whether half an hour, or 8, I’m able to look at problems more objectively.
- Create short term goals. One of the biggest things about overcoming imposter syndrome is realizing that it isn’t a race, and that you can move at your own pace. By creating short term goals and staying focused on them, it takes your attention away from others with whom you’re comparing, and gives you tangible benchmarks that are more relative to your progress. It also helps you realize that there IS a finish line. One of the biggest struggles, especially with the feeling of being overwhelmed is that the finish line seems to always be moving. Creating short term goals alleviates this struggle.
- Find someone to talk about it. Whether it’s someone you know who also has imposter syndrome, or someone who can give you objective feedback about how you’re feeling, if you talk about it, they’ll be able to put it into perspective for you. Someone who’s objective may be able to validate your accomplishments and help you internalize them. I’ve had many of these talks with my roommates all throughout App Academy and it’s been an incredible blessing. When you also talk about having imposter syndrome with someone who also has it, you have a comrade-in-arms. You help validate each other’s accomplishments, and it reinforces the fact that you’re not in this alone.
I think these points encapsulate the things I do to overcome my imposter syndrome every day. Every day when I wake up, I tackle it as a new challenge. I journal and make a note of all the tasks I want to accomplish that day. These tasks are my short term goals, I really meant it when I suggested that they be short term. Focus on each day, and take each day as it comes, checking at least one SMALL thing off your list. Imposter syndrome can be overcome by directed productivity, so make a plan each day with small target tasks, and make it a priority.
I hope this has helped you as much as it has helped me. If you have any additional questions, please don’t hesitate to ask! Good luck out there, and kick butt!