So, I recently got a job. I mean, to be honest, its one of my dream jobs. You know what? It’s actually my main dream job. I mean, I have a lot of dream jobs but this is the main dream job, like all the others, are dream side hustles. I am sure you get the point. Anyways, Alhamdulillah! I got it.
I shared the news with my family and loved ones, and they shared with their friends and loved ones and as more people knew about it and called to congratulate me, the excitement started to die down and then came the panic. What if I am not as good as people think? What if I fail? What if people finally see that I have just been getting lucky? What if my luck finally runs out? I was sad and felt…. limited and exposed. Have you ever felt like this?
You start to wonder, “am I too loud, too proud, strong enough, good enough, pretty enough, tough enough, too feminine, Muslim enough, dreaming too big?”
The term ‘imposter syndrome’ was coined in the 1970s. It is that unsettling feeling after you score big that you don’t deserve the praise and appreciation you get despite evidence that shows that you are skilled. Its common among overachievers, minority groups, creative and students.
You feel like you need to be perfect at every thing. This is such a huge task to burden yourself with. I mean, you cannot win at perfection. And so you would fail. Plus there is this accompanying fear of failure. This fear cripples you and you end up just standing on the sidelines afraid to make a move. Plus you constantly undermine your success. Elizabeth Cox describes this here.
How it affects you?
- You convince yourself you are going to fail
I was that kid in class that would never answer a question the teacher was asking even if he/she was going to make me stand through class because I couldn’t give
- You devalue your worth
I constantly struggle with this one. I especially find it hard taking credit for my services. People offer to pay me to do stuff they see I am very good at and I am quick to offer to do it for them for free instead. I mean, being nice is good but we know nice isn’t a currency accepted for goods and services. It’s like you are in a job interview and you end up convincing the interviewer to not hire you instead. I mean, its why there are so many pieces you have written that no one has never seen. You don’t believe anyone would want to read that after all, you wrote it
- You underestimate your expertise
This one is common with pharmacists. We are the minority in healthcare. For instance, a doctor prescribed the right drug in the wrong dose and rather than correct him, you first make excuses for him, then when you run out of excuses you finally open your mouth to speak and then say “… but I think…” I mean, at this point the best you can do for yourself is be sure.
- You feel like a fraud
You constantly feel you are not worthy of the prizes, praises and accolades you get. You feel like you cannot be as great as they think or as smart as they think and you would not always be this lucky. They are going to find out and then everyone would know that you are a fraud.
- Think you have to do it all.
It feels like you need to keep it all together because everyone thinks you are so put together. So you push yourself beyond yourself just so no one sees that you falling apart.
How to handle it?
First, believe that you are exactly where you are supposed to be. SubhanAllah. He is perfect and so is His plan.
- Replace the negative self talk with affirmations
A lot of the time, we do not show ourselves the kindness and love we show to others. Be your own cheerleader. Stand up for yourself. Write it on post-its, get wall prints and even cute stationery with reminders that you are worthy.
My personal favourite is…
I am the sun. I am the stars. I am the moon. I am worthy. I am awesome. I am enough. I am a rock star. I am dynamite and a million fairy lights. The world is ready for my awesomeness.Aishatu Nana Ahmed
- Find a hype woman/man
You are indeed blessed when Allah gifts you with people who believe in you. Most of the time, you would not believe certain things you tell yourself until you hear it from someone else especially if its someone you respect. If you have one of those, keep them.
- Decide to fail forward.
Failing doesn’t mean you did not deserve the opportunity in the first place. Sometimes, failure comes with a better opportunity. And it is okay to fail. And until you fail, you would never really experience the joy that comes with succeeding. It’s in failing or struggling that you find your story.
- Under promise and over deliver
This would help take a lot of pressure off you. You would have managed their expectations and everything else is a bonus.
- Keep a list of compliments and accomplishments
This one is for you. It gives you a record of your own efforts. That way you don’t always feel like everything was just handed to you.
- Find someone else to blame
I really like this one. You just blame someone else. Okay, “If I am not as great as they think, then whoever decided to employ me is to blame. I mean, all I did was apply for the job. They should have done a better job vetting me”.
Imposter’s syndrome is not something that goes away. You have to learn to live and cope with it. It is sad that we sometimes assume humility as the opposite of confidence and so we think being confident makes us proud. that isn’t the case. Finally, do not believe everything you think.
So tell me, have you ever struggled with this? How did you handle it?