While Imposter syndrome is not a psychiatric diagnosis, It often coexists with anxiety and depression and can be seriously disruptive. It brings about an extreme sense of self-doubt in high functioning individuals where you tend to debunk your own skills and achievements and have an overwhelming feeling of inadequacy and incompetency.
Are you feeling like you don’t belong somewhere? Like, you are not who people think you are and your achievements are a result of dumb luck and not your own hard work? Do you have a constant nagging feeling at the back of your head that at any given point in time, someone is going to see through you and call you out as a fraud? Feeling like an imposter, even when you truly aren’t can be detrimental to a healthy lifestyle.
What Imposter Syndrome Could Look Like?
Before we get into what imposter syndrome looks like, here’s an idea of what it doesn’t look like. It doesn't look like a game of “Among Us” where you are assigned the role of an imposter at the very start of the game and you go about as an actual imposter, hoping you don’t get caught or exposed. It certainly isn’t a thrilling experience like the game either. However, if you do struggle with self-confidence, you have a greater tendency to push yourself harder to seem more adequate in order to fit into social circles, all the while, facing crippling anxiety and fear of being exposed as a fraud.
Bring your attention to yourself and notice the tone of your inner voice.
Do you find yourself overly criticizing yourself?
Do you find yourself trying to be absolutely perfect at everything you try?
Do you over-work yourself often?
Do you feel like you need to be able to learn things quickly or get things right in the first go?
Do you feel like you need to know everything there is to know in order to fit into social circles?
Do you think that you need to be capable of doing everything on your own and asking for help isn't an option?
Lastly, do you think that if you are not perfect at what you're doing; are not constantly pushing beyond your threshold; are not able to grasp/learn things in the very first go; are you struggling to do something all on your own or do not know sufficient information about any given thing; are you feeling phony and afraid of being called out for it in a humiliating manner?
If your answer to any or all of those questions is a yes, pause and breathe. You are going to be okay but you’ve got to learn to go easy on yourself. You have to see yourself with loving eyes and know that you’re doing the best you could. As easy as this is to say, for someone who’s struggling with imposter syndrome for a very long time, it is extremely hard to break out of the "self-sabotaging" mindset. Please know that the acceptance of the fact that you could use help and seeking it, is the first step toward changing your narrative.
Asking for help! Although talking to friends and family helps, it also opens up the chance of further being pushed into a corner as they may not be equipped to understand or guide you through your experience. It is important to seek help from a professional who will be able to give you an unbiased perspective.
Mindfully tune out negative self-talk. While being self-critical helps with checking yourself and gaining perspective, it is important to be mindful so you aren’t being negatively critical. Remember to maintain a positive mental tone when you self-criticize. The goal is to understand what you may be doing wrong and what you may need to improve and not put yourself down in your own mind.
Go easy on yourself! Understand that you are human and offer yourself kindness and care. Tend to yourself delicately and give yourself a break when you need one.