You’ve likely heard the saying, “fake it ‘til you make it.” But what does that even mean?
It’s not uncommon to oversell yourself and your skills when you go into a job interview, or when you’re trying to land a new client. I’ve done it, and whether you’re willing to admit it or not, you’ve done it too. That said, what happens when you actually get the gig? Chances are you feel inadequate or under-qualified next to your peers, and you start to question your success.
File that under: imposter syndrome.
While I haven’t felt this (too) much in my career, I feel this often in blogging.
According to the Harvard Business Review, imposter syndrome is defined as, “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.” So, basically, you’re doubting yourself, your accomplishments, and your worth. Even though you’re actually crushing it.
It’s hard not to compare yourself to others. And even when you do start to see a bit of success in your own endeavors, it still feels minimal compared to the success of those around you. Am I close?
Here’s an example: Revolve Awards.
Back in November I was invited to attend the Revolve Awards as an influencer. This was a major milestone in my blogging career, and I was stoked. However when I got there, I immediately felt out of place. I was surrounded by extremely successful entrepreneurs, bachelor and bachelorette alumni, and major influencers with followings so big they’re practically C-list celebrities. Not to mention everyone was insanely attractive. I was a very (very) small fish in a really large pond. Like, a minnow. A nobody. And I felt it, hard.
As I’m writing this I’m thinking, “Wait. Am I on glue or did we not get into the same party?” Cue Elle Woods. But, seriously. I was invited just like everybody else was, so why was I feeling like a fraud for being there? And how the f*ck do I shake that feeling?
Here are five things that have helped me (attempt to) overcome imposter syndrome.
Stop comparing — In my opinion, comparison is the ultimate mojo crusher. The second you start comparing yourself to others is the second you open yourself up to doubt and insecurities. We’re all guilty of it. Honestly, it’s hard not to compare. Especially in a world where everyone is posting their highlight reel on Instagram. But here’s the thing, if you took other people’s success out of the equation, chances are you’d be feeling a lot better about your own. So stop comparing yourself to others (seriously, stop).
Decide what you bring to the table — Anyone can throw on outfits and post pictures on Instagram. And I’d bet there are a handful of people who can do your same job faster and better than you (sorry). So, what sets you apart? No one is you, and that’s your power. Decide what makes you and your skills unique and use that to your advantage. As soon as you realize the value you provide to your boss, coworkers, readers and followers, clients, friends, etc., the less you’ll feel like a fraud. Instead, you’ll feel like a valuable asset.
Own your accomplishments — PSA: sometimes it’s okay to toot your own horn. If you don’t talk about your victories no one else will. Don’t wait for someone else to bring up your accomplishments, start the conversation yourself. Talking about them makes them more real. It doesn’t make you self-absorbed or selfish, it makes you proud. And at the end of the day your opinion of you is all that matters.
Realize you’re not alone — You’re delusional if you think you’re alone in this. I’m not a psychologist, but I’d be willing to bet that a lot of people feel like an imposter at some point or another. Whether that’s as a boss, a student, an employee, an entrepreneur, an influencer, a wife or a mother. We’re human, and we can’t always get it right. Self-doubt is part of the process. Give yourself some grace and shake it off.
Always strive for more — While it’s important to celebrate your wins, it’s also really important to aim higher. When you hit a goal, set another one. Keep challenging yourself. You’ll be better for it. There’s always an opportunity to do more, so hold the vision and trust the process. The more milestones you hit, the more satisfaction you’ll feel when you reach your end goal. And you’ll know how hard you worked to get there.
At the end of the day remember this: there’s room for everyone to be successful in their own way.