Imposter Syndrome

Person sat on a railing over water, imposter syndrome

I read an article about imposter syndrome the other day: This Is How You Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome.

“You’ve probably blamed luck or other factors for your success instead of embracing the fact that you were responsible. You, my friend, have experienced imposter syndrome.”

It got me thinking.

When I first applied for my job in advertising, over a decade ago, I felt really confident completing the application. My skills and experience matched the criteria; I had experience working in an international environment and spoke French. And I was enthusiastic about working in the magazine industry.

I really wanted the job.

Waiting to go in to the interview (or coming out, I can’t remember which), I saw a girl I knew, a friend of a friend, also going for an interview for the same role. We had a brief chat.

A couple of days later, they offered me the job. However, for some reason I decided that they had probably offered the job to this other girl first, thinking that she must have turned it down.

I said something along these lines to my Dad, who asked why on earth I would even think such a thing. Why wasn’t I confident enough in myself to assume I’d been offered the job because I was perfect for the job?

During the ten years I worked for that company, I still felt like an imposter, right up until the end. The first few years I enjoyed it, but I quite often felt on tenterhooks, expecting to be found for I don’t know what. Not being good enough at the job?

Where did this lack of confidence come from?

Is it a perfectionist thing, always trying to be perfect and never make any mistakes, and massively fearing making any? Possibly? (read here)

Later on, as a sales manager, I didn’t feel good enough. I didn’t feel chatty/salesy/showy enough. I’m quiet, reflective, I listen. I don’t have the gift of the gab. Quite often I prefer to listen than to talk. I felt that you needed to be the opposite in the industry I worked in. It became stressful.

I concentrated more on ‘I’m not the right person for the job’ rather than ‘this job’s not right for me’.

One quote that stuck in my mind when going through a tricky time in this company, was from Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement address:

‘Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

This for me was imposter syndrome. Feeling as though I was playing a role in someone else’s life. This wasn’t where I was supposed to be.

Is it you, or is it the job?

If you’re feeling like this, I think it’s really important to take stock. Is it that you need to build up your confidence, find a way to lose this feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.”

Carry on with the work you are doing, and realise that you are as capable, talented, intelligent, interesting, as everyone else?

Or, do you need to take a reality check, and realise that the work you’re doing or the company you work for, isn’t right for you? It doesn’t suit your personality, values or lifestyle? Is it time to for a change?

If you’d like my help in getting unstuck and changing your job or career, book in for a discovery session with me here. We can talk things through.

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Photo by Thomas Peham on Unsplash

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