How to deal with Impostor Syndrome

Ladies (and also men)… how many times have you been asked to do something and the dreaded Impostor Syndrome hits you? I’m willing to bet it’s pretty often, am I right?

Recently I was having a conversation with an amazing, smart, successful woman who is going to be speaking on a panel at an event and you know what she said to me?

I don’t know why I’ve been asked to speak on this panel! I’m not senior enough.

Regardless of her seniority, this woman knows her shit. Believe me. Yet she was feeling like an impostor because her she is younger than the other panellists and her job title doesn’t match theirs in terms of seniority. Of course I told her she has every right to be on that panel because she does have the experience (regardless of her age) and people will learn loads from her contribution to the discussion.

You have something to teach others

I know she’ll inspire everyone but she’ll absolutely inspire others in the audience who might be thinking, ‘I’m young, I’m not a manager so why would anyone want to hear from me?’. They’ll identify with her and realise that if she can speak on a panel, then they can too. And isn’t this diversity something we want to encourage? Empowering young women, and men, to talk about their work alongside more experienced peers?

Now, I’ll hold my hand up and admit that I get Impostor Syndrome from time to time too. Of course I do, it’s completely normal. But then I stop and think:

I wouldn’t have been asked to do this if I didn’t have the skills and experience. I must at least give it a go.

A friend recently shared some tweets from Laura Jane Williams , who is an author and runs a course on writing for magazines. A few of the students had expressed that they were scared of failing, which led Laura to share the following advice:

 It’s hard to believe in yourself all the time, or even some of the time. “Believe in yourself” is poor advice, because who can say how one does that. So instead I ask you to believe that you are allowed to try – and whats more, believe you are allowed to fail.

I repeat: you need only believe that you are deserving of trying, and that you deserve to be allowed the room to fail, too. Failure won’t end you.

I totally live by the motto, feel the fear and do it anyway. The worst that can happen is that I fail. And that’s ok, as long as I learn from my failure.

So the next time Impostor Syndrome hits, think of everything you have achieved so far, the skills and knowledge you bring to the table, remember that no-one is perfect and give yourself permission to try.

Here's how to deal with Impostor Syndrome

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2 Comments

  1. November 30, 2017 / 11:41 am

    Love this Kirsty! I’m a big believer in the Parent Child Adult model, and applying that to imposter syndrome. So I have to work out whether the fear is something the parent section of my brain has installed without any basis or reflection of the current circumstances. Then calm down the child section of my brain (‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ is perfect for that!) and finally let the Adult section of my brain take over and face the challenge reasonably.

    • Kirsty Marrins
      Author
      November 30, 2017 / 5:43 pm

      Thanks Emma!I love the idea of the Parent Child Adult model – what a useful way to tackle Impostor Syndrome. Thanks for sharing it!