What is Impostor Syndrome and How to Overcome It?

Have you ever felt inadequate despite your accomplishments, like you’re not good enough even when people tell you otherwise? Do you ever feel like you don’t deserve your success? Are you afraid of being exposed as a fraud? Apparently, there’s a name for it.

I never really knew what Impostor Syndrome was until recently. I came across a post and an article about it in LinkedIn. I had experienced it before and I’ve been feeling it lately. I feel so relieved to finally know that it has a name. It’s so hard to be feeling all these weird things and not know what they are. Knowing what it’s called and that I’m not alone somehow makes me realize that it’s okay. I am normal, after all.

So, what is Impostor Syndrome? It is also known as Impostor Phenomenon which was coined by Georgia State University psychology professor Pauline Clance and psychologist Suzanne Imes in 1978. Apparently, it’s more common in women but men also suffer from it. Impostor Syndrome is the feeling of self-doubt, of being fake or a fraud. It’s the feeling of being inadequate regardless of one’s achievements. High ranking executives, even CEOs, suffer from this as well. It’s feeling as if you don’t deserve your success, as if you owe it all to simple luck instead of all your capabilities.

According to the article I read, Impostor Syndrome can cause paralysis. It can lead you to self-sabotage. It can hinder you from taking on new tasks or responsibilities, even promotions simply because you feel that you are not good enough. It’s as if you’re afraid of being exposed. You’re afraid that people will finally see that you’re not that good at your job.

So, why am I feeling this way lately? Well, I created my freelancing profiles in different online platforms 8 months ago. In one of them I got rejected 3 times and I had to revise my profile several times. On the the fourth submission, as I was about to give up, I finally received an email saying that my profile got approved. So, for 8 months now I’ve been applying to different jobs, which, I think are within my skill set. For several months I received no response from any of them. So, I decided to enroll in a Freelancing Course in order to learn what I’m doing wrong and how to fix it. After 2 or 3 weeks, I finally received a response from one of my proposals. It was a transcription work with a 48-hour deadline. It was my first freelance job in Upwork. Eighteen videos, approximately 6 hours. I had a panic attack and almost missed the deadline because I accepted the job without realizing that it was very technical. There was a lot of Science and Engineering involved with some names and words I wasn’t familiar with, but with research, I did it. I felt really good about it afterwards. I learned a lot of new stuff with that experience alone. I had another job after that. A small job I finished in one hour.

As of this writing, I’ve already applied to 42 jobs in the last 90 days according to Upwork. These do not include other platforms. I have been receiving invitations to interview but they mostly just end there. I do receive a few responses but nothing after that. Three days ago, someone replied to my proposal and promised result after 48 hours. I’m still waiting.

This has led me to think that I’m not good enough to be hired. I look at other people’s profiles and everybody seems to be an expert at something except me. I’ve been working for 15 years. I must have developed some sort of skills, right? It also makes me feel like a fraud. My LinkedIn profile says I’m a Freelancer, but am I? That’s what Upwork says, so, I guess I am. And I do accept freelancing jobs. I’m just waiting for that someone who will take a chance on me and hire me for a long-term position even without prior experience. I do have a full-time job but I want to do something else not related to my current work. Besides, I have a lot of free time working from home and I don’t want to waste any opportunity to upskill. It feels great to learn and do something new. Dear recruiters and employers, some people may have no experience in certain fields but once you hire them and they get the hang of it, you’ll be surprised.

So, how to overcome Impostor Syndrome? Keep in mind that you’re not alone. Even highly successful people experience Impostor Syndrome. Acknowledge the feeling. Accept the feeling. Talk about the feeling and then move on. Focus on your strengths. Focus on what you can do. Keep going. Whatever it is that you do that you think will lead you to achieving your goals, keep doing it. Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge your accomplishments. Accept that failures and rejections are just part of the process. Enjoy the journey. Take note of all the things you’re learning along the way.

Every now and then, you’ll feel like a failure. It happens to the best of us. It’s okay. Failure is part of life. Failure is part of success. Failure happens when we are trying to accomplish something but nothing seems to work or it doesn’t happen the way we want or imagine it to be. Failure is expecting something to happen but it doesn’t. It can sometimes feel like it’s the end of the world. But guess what? What’s important is that you’re doing something about it. What’s important is that you’re taking action. Someone said that when you try, there’s always a 50% chance you’ll succeed but when you don’t, that’s 100% failure. I agree.

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