Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

I’m not the biggest fan of the term imposter syndrome. It sounds like an incurable disease but it’s the only term I know that can be used to describe what I’m about to say. So, what is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome according to the Oxford dictionary is the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills. Sounds familiar?

I recently got an internship with Outreachy and after the initial excitement died out that was when I started to doubt myself. I thought of a thousand reasons I could have been chosen but none of them were because I deserved it. I kept telling myself that they had made a mistake and very soon they were going to realise that I was a fraud.

This feeling is not peculiar to techies, people from any profession can feel this way. So how do we get rid of this feeling? To be honest I don’t know either but I can tell you what helps to quiet that voice in your head that says you’re not deserving of good things.

  1. Talk to someone: Talking to a few people from my internship cohort felt really comforting because it turns out I wasn’t the only one feeling that way. I grew up in an environment where mental health is not a topic for discussion. I've had to unlearn a lot of those things which was extremely diffucult but I'm very grateful I did. Speaking to someone who listens and understands what you’re feeling will help you in ways you cannot imagine.

  2. Maintain a positive mindset: It’s easier for our minds to think negatively than for it to think positively. So, usually I ask myself if they didn’t think you were smart enough to work on this project would they have hired you? I am worthy and my experiences are valuable. You were hired because they saw how hard you work, be proud of that.

  3. Celebrate yourself: Don’t be too hard on yourself. I tend to count my wins as luck. That's not a good thing. No matter how small you think your wins are celebrate them. You can buy yourself something nice or even make a post on your socials. Little by little you won't need reminding that you deserve good things.

  4. Give yourself a break: Everybody struggles and the people who you look up to didn’t get there in one day or one year. It’s okay to not know something or be the best. Growth takes time.