If you’ve ever started a new job, club, or met a new group of people you can probably relate to that sense of feeling out of place. That out-of-body experience of being painfully aware of everything you do or say in a certain situation. But why does this happen? Does everyone experience this?
The Oxford dictionary defines impostor syndrome as ‘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.’ This idea that, despite your best efforts, you’ve ended up in a position that you don’t believe you deserve to be in.
“The persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved”
But how much of a problem is this?
We all experience moments of feeling like we don’t belong, so when does it become a real issue?
There is research that suggests that this is an issue most common amongst working women. According to Kathy Caprino (Forbes Senior Contributor), over 75% of corporate women admit to having felt impostor syndrome at least once within their working lives. There is further evidence to suggest that this sense of ‘not-belonging’ has stopped professional women from reaching their full potential; due to fears of not being worthy or deserving. A woman suffering from impostor syndrome is more likely to pass on promotions and career progressions. Therefore, the modern-day, working woman is suffering as a result of our own, overactive, thoughts. A severe lack in confidence and self-belief is contributing to the male-dominated work space.
What is the solution?
If such intrusive thoughts can actually affect our career-paths and professional development, it is important to be able to overcome this. To tackle our own thought processes takes a certain level of self-awareness; something undeniably easier said than done.
There is no set guide on how to overcome impostor syndrome, it rears its ugly head in a manner of different ways for every person. A number of advice guides (including the NHS) make a point of stating that impostor syndrome is our own inner dialogue. Therefore, speaking out about it can often confirm that our irrational fears are, in fact, irrational and built on nothing but insecurity.
The important take-away here is to not let our negative thoughts take over our lives. The chances are, if you end up somewhere it is because you do belong there.