Suffering from Imposter Syndrome? (Maybe you should be…) Part 1
Happy Wednesday! (Why shouldn’t Wednesday get a special salutation?)
I’ve gotten a lot of great questions so far, and while I’ll be focusing on different topics, the topic of Imposter Syndrome comes up a lot with people. In their professional lives, their personal lives, as partners, parents, experts in their field, sports, hobbies, career and life changes….even vacations. (Really).
I picked one question that touches on a lot of the issues, and as I started answering it grew and grew and grew. This will be a few parts.
Someone calling herself In A Panic is in a really tough spot. She’s landed the job of her dreams, only to have it cause her nightmares. Is she suffering from Imposter Syndrome, or is there something else going on beneath the surface? Because it’s an issue I get asked about all the time, I’ll answer In A Panic’s question and then add some general thoughts.
Dear Coach Kiki,
I just got an amazing new job — yay! More responsibilities, more autonomy, more leadership responsibilities, more of an opportunity to use my skills and talents, and more money and vacation time. That’s all so great, isn’t it?
I was so tense during the application & interview process — and the waiting — I don’t know which part was worse.
When I found out I got the job I was THRILLED beyond belief. I celebrated with my husband, my friends, my family, my colleagues — and I couldn’t wait to start.
I had two weeks between jobs and I’m not sure what happened, but I completely fell apart. We’d been planning a week long getaway for one week, but I don’t think I can go (my husband is super annoyed, we haven’t been on vacation in ages).
It started as soon as I got the good news, to be honest, but in the rush of finishing up and training my replacement, and getting the paperwork in order for the new job, and celebrating this amazing opportunity I’d dreamed about and worked hard for for so long, I managed to push the negative thoughts out of the way.
But wow, when they hit, all those thoughts, and fears hit me like a ton of bricks.The second I got into the elevator to leave on my last day — well, let’s just say I didn’t even think I’d make it down to the street (I did) without pulling the emergency alarm. I don’t know if it was a panic attack, but I felt like I couldn’t breathe, and all the feelings hit at once.
I got nervous, insecure, terrified that I wouldn’t really be able to do the job. Everyone would find out I’m a complete phony, that I don’t have the skills, I can’t lead, I can’t manage, I don’t know my stuff, I’m a failure, and I’ll be the laughing stock. I was this close to running back to my old office and begging for my old job back. Seriously.
The two weeks are up next Monday, and I’m going into work at the new job (if I can drag myself in). HELP!!!! I’m suffering from massive imposter syndrome — and I’m this close to — to — I don’t know what because I’ve got to get myself in there on Monday, and I’ve got to stay there for the immediate future.
This should have been the happiest time for me, and the new job should be so exciting and rewarding, and all I feel is terror that I’ll be found out. That somehow everyone will find out I’m not up for the job, I’m not qualified for it, and I was aiming too high. Not to mention that my boss will think I’m a failure, I won’t be able to keep up and I’ll get fired.
Wow. Did I just say all that? Thanks for listening, or reading actually. Oh, and HEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLPPPPP.
Imposter In A Panic
Dear In A Panic,
Oh the stress! A new job. New people. New responsibilities. For every one new thing you were excited about there are exponential things to be anxious about. There’s so much in your question to address, but let’s take it one thing at a time.
Before we even get to the imposter syndrome issues you’ve got to get through the first few weeks and months so you have a job to (possibly) feel imposter-ish in, and then un-imposter yourself from.
So. First of all — can you still take the vacation? You need it and deserve it for landing the job, and hey it sounds like you and your husband have been waiting for this opportunity for quite a while. Have fun. Rest up. Energize. All that anxiety can drain you before you’ve even begun — and you need all your energy for the days and weeks ahead.
Career Change Tip: It will take you a couple of days, weeks, and/or months, to get acclimated to your new job, environment, corporate culture, people, schedule. You didn’t ask about time management, work flow management, or project management here so I won’t spend time on those, beyond saying that getting some of those in order will help you get through the beginning weeks, months, and projects.
Emotional Life Lesson 1: Most people I’ve worked with, at some point or another suffer from Imposter Syndrome.
(I can hear the collective groan — but I can also see you all nodding.)
It’s a big world out there, and the more people you meet, the more experiences you have, the more you take on, the more opportunities you have to feel like an imposter in.
Lots of people out there are telling you “go for it, you’ve got this” “no!! you’re not an imposter, just give yourself some great self-talk and it’ll all go away”. All those things can be helpful.
They can be especially helpful if it’s a situational Imposter Syndrome episode. A blip on your screen. In that case, no biggie and it doesn’t need anything more than for it to pass and a lot of positive feelings, self-talk, & support. Not a biggie. But that doesn’t work for everyone — at all. As a matter of fact it doesn’t work for most people.
Emotional Life Lesson Question 1: The question is why are you experiencing Imposter Syndrome?
I usually ask clients what’s causing the Imposter Syndrome feelings — and as part of that exploration and a question no one wants to hear, but is important to address, I’ll ask you too —
Emotional Life Lesson Question 2: Are you an imposter? Are you an imposter in this situation?
Before you stop reading, or before it sends you into a panic, let’s look at it — because even if it’s true (a little or a lot) you can work to get rid of it, but you can’t get rid of something you aren’t aware of, are denying, or don’t want to deal with.
Next up in this series —
Some answers whether you answered yes, or no, to the above question.
Stay tuned for Part 2!
Your life is like no other. sm
Have a great one,
Kiki aka Coach Kiki
aka Rebecca Kiki Weingarten, M.Sc.Ed, MFA
© 2018 TradeCraft Coaching Please note that all posts are for entertainment purposes. It is not intended and should not be construed as the delivery of medical or psychological care. You are always encouraged to check and confirm the information with other sources and through direct professional contact.