So you feel like an impostor...

So you feel like an impostor? 

Maybe you think you're just lucky to be here. Perhaps you feel like the vetting team that hired you made a mistake. You might believe that no one should ACTUALLY be taking you seriously. 

If any of the above feel true to you, then you're having an encounter with Impostor Syndrome. 

Here's how Amy Cuddy, popular TED talker & researcher, defines Impostor Syndrome: 

Impostorism causes us to overthink and second-guess. It makes us fixate on how we think others are judging us (in these fixations, we’re usually wrong), then fixate some more on how those judgments might poison our interactions. We’re scattered—worrying that we underprepared, obsessing about what we should be doing, mentally reviewing what we said five seconds earlier, fretting about what people think of us and what that will mean for us tomorrow.
— Amy Cuddy, Presence

Sound familiar? If you're feeling this way in your current role this could sound eerily familiar. You know, the whole horoscope phenomenon. 

If it is the case, please take a step away from the ledge. 

Impostor Syndrome (and it's various different namesakes) has been studied since the 1980's. I have read reports that somewhere between 40 - 70% of people experience this mindset at some point in time. Women and minorities seem to experience it more. And generally speaking, the bigger the things are that you are doing the more likely it will be that you will feel like a phony inside - at least at times. 

I am by no means immune to this. The phrase that often floats into my train of thought is, "I have no clue what I'm doing." It's interesting how correct that feels in the moment, but how completely absurd it looks when I type it out and see it in front of me. 

Find reality. Don't fixate on false phoniness. 

  1. Check it out - Cuddy defines Impostor Syndrome as fixating on what others think of us. Don't waste your time on guesswork - check it out! Find a trusted friend in your workplace and ask them the questions you're already obsessing over. 
  2. Watch your language - What are your go-to statements when you're feeling like a fake? Write them down and examine them. Keep the truth and ditch the rest. Chang "I have no clue what I'm doing" to "I'm feeling unsure and could use some support." Paul reminds us in Philippians 4:8 to focus in on the good and true. 
  3. Remind yourself - How did you get here? Who were the people who built into you and released you to do your best work? Think about them because you might trust their judgment more than yours sometimes. 
  4. You've got status - You might feel crummy, but remember that you're actually reconciled and presented "without blemish and free from accusation" (Col 1:22). God accepts you in spite of your limitations. He loves you separate from your skills. He would want you to do the same.