What comes to mind when you think of “imposter syndrome”?
I was speaking about this idea with my mum a few months back (who had never heard of it before), and she immediately out ruled it as absolutely absurd. How could someone take up a certain space, and feel as if they didn’t truly deserve to be there? And better yet, why was it a term that was often applied to women that had reached some success?
Imposter syndrome is something I felt quite a bit over the past few years, up until recently. For me, it manifested in thinking I was going around fooling everybody and winging it. I mean, I do often feel like I am winging life. But if I was, for example, doing well at work, making good decisions with my money, making progress with my health/fitness, staying consistent and making progress in any sort of project… I felt like I was just fooling everybody into thinking I knew what I was doing. Around the time I was approached for my current job, I was approached for a few other (relevant) jobs all around the same time, with a some saying they were “recommended” to speak to me, or that they reached out to me because they heard that I was good. I thought – “why do these people think I’m good..?! I’m not going to tell them otherwise, but I sure am fooling people.”
Indeed, that is how my “imposter syndrome” often manifested in my life. Feeling as if anything good I did was a fluke, and often explaining away complements.
“But you went to LSE!” “…Yeah but I had to work so hard to do well, some people barely had to study!”
“Well done on being consistent with you blog and your recipe platform!” “…Thanks! Not like I have 1mn followers though!”
“Wow good job paying off your student loan.” “…Yeah I guess I’m just lucky!”
After that conversation with my mum, and as I continue to get older, my views around “imposter syndrome” have definitely changed. Whilst it was something I whole heartedly accepted and even embraced once upon a time, a certain switch came on this year, which has brought me to a point of not totally feeling like I relate to the term at all anymore.
I often felt as though I was taking up spaces in which I was somewhat of a fraudster, because I always had one eye on people I felt were “better” than me, and thus thought – why do I deserve any praise, when I’m really not so good anyway? It’s this feeling that either led me to batting away complements, or, when it’d not serve me to do so, humbly accepting any praises but thinking in my head, “damn… I’m fooling them!”
The shift in my thinking was – if we are taking up space in certain places, and achieving certain things, who’s to say we don’t deserve to be there? Definitely, a lot of life is about winging it. And often, those that can “wing it” the best, and quite frankly, eloquently chat the most shit, tend to go far. But to some extent, there’s only so much you can “wing it” before the curtains come down and you are exposed as not really knowing anything at all.
Was it really so daunting to admit that – maybe I am pretty good at a few things, and the reasons are X, Y, Z? And maybe it was pretty cool that could set goals, such as paying off loans or getting on the property ladder, and tick those off. And maybe I could embrace the fact that – yep – I am pretty consistent when I say I’m going to do something, and actually that is one of my stronger qualities. It doesn’t have to mean I have a big head, or think I am better than anyone else, but can recognise and feel confident in certain achievements, abilities, successes, etc.
Clearly, not feeling “imposter syndrome” is easier said than done. But if you relate to that feeling, then this year I challenge you to embrace and feel confident in the spaces you take up. At the end of the day, you are where you are for a reason.
In that sense – maybe it’s time to reword and rethink the concept of “imposter syndrome”. Take it from feeling like a fraudster, to “owning your own greatness”.
Have a good week!