One of the worst feelings is feeling inadequate among your peers. From the moment I stepped into the office on my very first day in my first"big boy job" I felt this way. I felt that everyone around me was smarter than me and that I did not compare. I felt that I would probably never be as smart as my co-workers and that they were infinitely more capable than I was. In fact, to this day I still feel this way pretty frequently despite the fact that I still have a job and I am still working and accomplishing tasks. So if I am clearly able to do my job, why do I feel like I constantly am on the brink of failure and that I will be called out and fired for being an idiot?
There is a well-known psychological phenomenon called Impostor Syndrome and it is an ugly bitch. Despite working hard for many years to earn a degree, land an internship, and now having worked as a technology professional for nearly 4 years I still deeply feel that I somehow managed to get lucky time and time again. I will constantly fret over stupid little things while waiting to be outed for my ignorance or stupidity but miraculously that never happens. Can't the rest of the world see just how bad I really am?
When I first found out that Impostor Syndrome was a thing I immediately dove in to research the topic and quickly discovered that I was far from alone in my thoughts. As it turns out, people all over the world in nearly every industry can feel this way. Famous author Maya Angelou was quoted saying:
"I have written 11 books, but each time I think, 'Uh oh, they're going to find out now. I've run a game on everybody, and they're going to find me out."
The American Psychological Association wrote an article a few years ago discussing this and offered some helpful tips on how to work on overcoming it:
- Talk to your mentors
- Recognize your expertise
- Remember what you do well
- Realize no one is perfect
- Change your thinking
- Talk to someone who can help
The worst part about it is that even though I know it is happening, I still feel the same way. I still feel inadequate even though I know I am not. I have to remind myself daily that these feelings aren't reality but a figment of my rude mind. The more I consciously recognize that this is happening the easier it is for me to fight back and ultimately I am a stronger person for having to do so. I am not sure the feeling will ever go away, and it may even get worse at times but at least I am armed with the knowledge that I just might not be as incapable as I think I am.