I’ve been looking for a new position for the past several weeks. I’m getting interviews, LOTS of interviews, but nothing has cemented. I’ve been racking my brain to understand why I’m not getting asked back for second or third interviews and I think that I finally figured out the culprit. Say hello to my little friend: impostor syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern when an individual feels like a failure or doubts their accomplishments, often having an internalized fear of being called out as a fraud. And I’m not alone- 70% of all people experience these feelings at some point in their lives. We get consumed with all these thoughts of inadequacy: “I’m not good enough.” “It was just luck.” “Anyone could’ve done that.” “I have no idea what I’m doing.” “I don’t deserve to be here.” These words run through my head as I stumble over my words during phone interviews. I have a difficult time talking about my professional accomplishments and about myself, in general.
The imposter has followed me throughout school (since at least middle school) and the majority of roles in my career. I think about one of my previous roles where I spent the first two weeks of the job, convincing myself that my boss made a mistake with hiring me. They would find out that I can’t write nor perform any other one of my job responsibilities because I was “stupid.” That feeling was so overwhelming and hovered over me throughout most of my time with that position. I never felt like I belonged there even if I was producing good work. Even now as I wait tables, there is something in my head that tells me that I’m a terrible server. I screams loudly saying that my customers hate the service I provide them (and won’t tip me)l that my coworkers think I’m incompetent and I eventually will trip on an untied shoelace and spill trays of food all over the floor. That is far from the truth- I’ve had some of the most wonderful interactions with my customers. I haven’t spilled anything yet and I can’t control my coworkers thoughts so whatevs.
As I try to unpack where exactly these feelings inadequacies steam from, I don’t want to do another phone interview where I feel like I’m lying about my talents and my skills. So, how do I beat this? I battle the feeling by reminding myself that not only am I smart but I am capable of doing the work efficiently and effectively. If I don’t know something, I can learn how to do it. I’m a worthy hire and a goddamn good employee. I’m great; I know my stuff and I can do this.
I believe my own experiences stem from the “need to be the best” and the fear of failure. But I’m learning how to recognize the imposter and push it out of the way. I started talking myself up before interviews as if I was my own personal cheerleader. If you’re always telling yourself that you’re not good enough and that you don’t deserve anything, then you’ll never feel worthy of anything life gives you. If you say negative language to yourself often enough (like me), you will start performing in a way that hinders you, possibly hurting your career and furthering your illusions. Sure, I know that I’m not the smartest, most skilled person in the room but I am still pretty brilliant in my own way.
Talk is great but taking action can work wonders, as well. I need to own my achievements. I recently updated my website to reflect the amount of work I’ve had published. Sometimes, its takes a visual representation to convince yourself- wow! I’ve done a lot of good work. There is the proof! I am able to see that I wrote one solid piece and people continued to hire me for my writing. Better yet, people still read my pieces!
But now, if you could excuse me. I have an interview to prepare for. (Wish me luck!) How do you battle your imposter syndrome, dear reader?