Starting out at a new job can prove to be both exciting and extremely difficult to adapt to. You come face to face with new superiors, a new team to collaborate with, new workflows, and maybe even new duties. Overall, the transitioning process isn’t always as smooth as we’d like it to be.
In the process of job seeking, if you’re feeling mentally distressed and you don’t believe you can find a job you truly deserve or fit in, then you are suffering from impostor syndrome.
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You may be extremely qualified for the new position you have taken on, yet still, worry about how much you truly deserve to work in the new setting you were hired into. If you find yourself not taking opportunities and risks as they come, you may have what we call impostor syndrome.
Impostor syndrome is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when a qualified and capable individual feels like they are a fraud, doubt themselves and their knowledge, and feel as if they don’t deserve something they have rightfully earned, such as a promotion or a raise.
Imagine you are at an interview with more than enough qualifications and experience to show, yet you find yourself speaking about yourself and feeling as if everything you are saying isn’t real. You feel like a phony, an impostor at a place where you shouldn’t feel like one.
A monumental study conducted by the Journal of Behavioral Science showed that around 70% of the U.S. population has experienced impostor syndrome at their workplace before.
This experience often happens with working women, especially high-achieving ones. This sentiment is often attributed to feeling pressure internally and externally to do better as well as societal habits such as doubting women’s skills, discrimination, or a toxic work environment when in a professional environment.
To better understand this state of mind many working individuals find themselves in, we will be looking at the initial cause of these thoughts, who is affected often, how it affects them, and how to cope with them to then heal from them.
The causes of imposter syndrome
First and foremost, the term “syndrome” is one that isn’t preferred by professionals in psychology due to making the state of mind sound like a disorder, which it is not. Instead, these professionals are lobbying to coin the term “impostor experience” since it is more just that.
What causes impostor syndrome the most often is when an individual experiences new success in their life. These accomplishments can make a person with impostor syndrome feel as if they did not earn whatever it is they are receiving. These types of thoughts are called “cognitive distortions” by professionals due to the thwarted views they cause inside individuals.
This process all comes down to a feeling of insecurity and thus anxiety in oneself.
Who impostor syndrome affects often
Though this emotion is universal and can be experienced by anyone, the most common group that is affected by it are women, specifically women who are high-achieving and high-earning.
This boils down to childhood experiences, where girls tend to be socialized in a way where they become risk-averse and they tend to doubt themselves more often thanks to that in contrast to their male counterparts. Impostor syndrome can also be a side effect of a childhood where the child needed to have achievements to receive love and affection from their parents.
The thought of promoting oneself is what scares people experiencing impostor syndrome since it often results in the individual feeling like they are not achieving enough and don’t deserve the praise. The pressures of social comparison are also a cause for this crippling fear. These pressures have been observed generationally, dominantly manifesting in millennials.
There is also a factor of perfectionism that is at play. This can also stem from childhood or from individuals who are success-oriented and doubt themselves often. Overall, the underlying issue will be some sort of anxiety.
Symptoms of impostor syndrome
The main symptom of impostor syndrome is not feeling like you’re enough but that often goes unnoticed by individuals who suffer from this experience. The feeling of worthlessness translates to overworking oneself to the point of burnout or exhaustion. The reason for this is that the individual wishes to overachieve to feel like they’re doing enough.
The inability to accept compliments is also an indication of this mindset since you do not see your worth but rather devalue yourself. The amount of comparison that happens in the mind of someone with imposter syndrome results in feeling as if your colleagues are more put together than you are, thus making them seem more successful in your eyes.
The effects of impostor syndrome
Not asking for help is the biggest setback impostor syndrome can give those who experience it. You become too much of a perfectionist towards yourself and that results in needing to feel successful enough when being helped out by someone else. Unnecessarily high standards are the core cause of this perfectionism.
All this extensively forced productivity results in a breakdown from all the pressure you are under, which then turns into procrastination and a need to heal after this ordeal. Prioritizing a career over your health and relationships also creates this burden within your life that needs to be overcome in order to function as a healthy person.
Overcoming impostor syndrome
An environment change is a big thing to consider when wanting to rip yourself out of this mindset. Often environments high in stress that add lots of pressure to your life aren’t helpful in making you feel good enough.
Creating a list stating all your objective accomplishments can also help in remembering what you are truly good at and also serves as a reminder that this is how people see you.
Acknowledge your feelings and try to understand that experience is almost fully universal and is natural to feel in today’s fast-paced society. You should also start slowly noticing when you have these negative thoughts and stopping yourself before your emotions and negativity gets out of hand.