Impostor Syndrome: Am I a fraud?
I have mentors in every facet of my life. Be it in my spiritual life, finances, academics, or in leadership, these people serve as beacons and they motivate me. Some of the people that I call mentors do not know me and I do not know them personally. However, I learn from them whenever I get the opportunity even if it is from a distance.
One such mentor is Bozoma Saint John, the current Chief Marketing Officer at Netflix. I learned from Bozoma to take advantage of all the opportunities that come my way because I deserve them. After practicing this, I realized I was very prepared for most of the opportunities that I thought I did not have the requisites for. I was of the perception that she had everything figured and she had all the confidence in the world so she would not feel inadequate in any way. I mean, she calls herself a Badass. A very well deserved name because that woman gets things done. This was because I only knew her for her achievements. On 8th August 2020, during an IG live with Luvvie Ajayi, Bozoma spoke about the fact that even with all of her achievements, just like everyone else, she experiences the imposter syndrome. I was shocked! This is a woman that exudes confidence. She has made it in her field, the kind of person that my group of friends will say “has arrived” — she has attained a great level in life. Yet she felt overwhelmed at times. According to her, as one continues to grow and achieve their goals, their definition of this syndrome changes. Using herself as an example, she said that she continuously and consistently works harder than most people in her position just to show that she deserves her current position.
For those who may not know what the impostor syndrome is, the Cambridge dictionary describes it as “the feeling that your achievements are not real or that you do not deserve praise or success:” It is the feeling that one is a fraud and may not deserve the good things coming their way.
I have experienced this syndrome on several occasions and I must say that it does not produce a great feeling. The effects include missing great opportunities and doubting one’s self continuously. I took some time to think about all the times I have heard or read about people who have been in similar situations. I wondered if this was another thing that was reserved for women alone. As an analyst, I went researching. After speaking to a few young men in different fields, careers, and professions, I found out that men also experience this syndrome. In their work and sometimes even in their relationships with others. From the research and my personal experiences, I have gathered some ways of handling this syndrome when one experiences it and these are listed below in three points.
1. Look back at your achievements. There have been times in your life that you were certain that your life was over or you could not perform a given task but you were able to do these. Look back and think about those times and encourage yourself, knowing that this new situation that is triggering this syndrome is another opportunity to achieve something new. Use this moment to develop yourself and build a better you.
2. Beware of the syndrome triggers. These can be a group of people or a situation.
- Some people trigger this syndrome in you. These may be family, friends and/or colleagues. In such cases, it is important to distance yourself from such people. Necessity should be the only reason to spend a long time with such people.
- At other times, it may be a social media platform or a gathering meant to motivate people. We are different and that is beautiful however, we do not always have similar reactions to similar situations. Stay away from such environments when you are not mentally and emotionally prepared to be encouraged or motivated. Find your trigger and stay away from it.
3. Trust in God and in His plan. This is the most important point for me as a Christian. I believe that God created me and He has the plan for my life. There is nothing that I face that I cannot handle or He hasn’t prepared me for. There is nothing that I want that I cannot get as long as it is in God’s plan for me. I believe that I have all that is needed to achieve my dreams and obtain all that is for me. So whenever I experience this syndrome, I remember that my purpose is found in God and He has given me everything I need to succeed hence I am capable of completing whatever task there may be.
Admittedly, I have applied for positions at times when I was not very confident in my abilities but I still got accepted. I realized in the end that I was extremely qualified and it was just fear that was trying to pull me down using this syndrome.
From my personal story, that of my virtual mentor as well as the stories of the people that I interviewed, I have concluded that everyone experiences this syndrome at some points in their life. It may not look obvious because some people are good at handling this and while others just hide it and do not talk about it. It is similar to a natural phenomenon. Everyone has their way of handling this syndrome. However, it is important that we always remember that our true self can only be found in God and He has given us everything we need to be that in addition to fulfilling our purpose. So yes, I can, you can and we can. Now, go get it! :)