Updated: May 8
By: Alana Tristan, LPC-A, Supervised by Roxanne Deams, LPC-S.
Have you ever heard that tiny voice in your mind asking, “how did I get here? Do I deserve this? Am I capable of doing this?” Well, you are not alone. Many people, including myself, experience the feeling of imposter syndrome at least once in their lives.
It is that buzzy sense of believing that you are not worthy of your accomplishments or should not be in the position that you are in despite great effort and skill, and perhaps pretending until someone figures it out. In other words, self-doubt. Yup, the big stinger! It can be a sore spot, I know. Let’s talk about it.
According to Dr. Valerie Young, a leading expert on the topic, there are five categories of imposter syndrome: the Perfectionist, the Superwoman/man, the Natural Genius, the Soloist, and the Expert. Sound familiar? I personally relate to the Superwoman and Expert types; feeling as if there is always more to learn while life tells me, “go go go!” until burnout kicks in. However, there are times I have to hold my horses, take a breath, and remind myself that what I have done and know so far is a big accomplishment in itself. Hey, I am human.
Managing the imposter syndrome when it shows up is straightforward. First, find the courage to step into the next level. Taking a risk, elevating, or taking on a new endeavor can feel a bit intimidating. The key is growing into that space, owning the thoughts and feelings that come with it, and accepting imperfections. When we find ourselves outside of our comfort zone, that is when we usually stretch the most, utilizing psychic muscles that perhaps were not used before. Woo! Plus, imposter syndrome does not have to be a green monster on your back…my professor in Grad School once said, “imposter syndrome means you care. Use it as strength, not as self-defeat.”
Individuals may struggle with questioning their abilities such as: Do I have what it takes to graduate? Is it possible to iron out disorganization? Can I really pursue that job? The Adulting Program here at The Conative Group assists young adults who ponder questions like these and we use support, encouragement and step-by-step goals to move forward. I’m lucky because I see people break through the imposter syndrome every day!
So, remember, you are not alone and it is okay to ask for help. Being the best version of yourself allows strength and power to come forth. Acknowledge your imperfections. Say yes to the new opportunity. And, mostly be more gracious, forgiving, and hopeful to yourself. We have all been there.