It's not easy being insecure.
You've earned your place in a school or a job that seems way out of your league. But now, you're there, and you are expected to pull your own weight. But you don't feel equipped to do so---how do you manage?
"Impostor syndrome" is persistent feeling that causes someone to doubt their accomplishments despite evidence, and fear they may be exposed as a fraud. AskReddit, do any of you feel this way about work or school? How do you overcome it, if at all?
Here were some of the answers.
Nerds Droppin' ElbowsGiphy
Academic here : a lot of us suffer from this syndrome. Positions are so difficult to obtain that a lot of us almost feel guilty when we get one : all academics know colleagues that were as bright, if not brighter than themselves, that couldn't be hired or left the academic world. Therefore, there is this permanent feeling that we might not fully deserve this position and that at some point someone will discover that we are not as bright, as deserving as they think.
So you keep pushing, you keep working harder, overtime, on week-end, during holidays, just to convince yourself that you belong here. And it's hard, because when you work in academia, you encounter frequently people who are factually geniuses, who are out there in terms of cognitive possibilities : their brain just don't work like yours, really, there is no way that even through hard work you can achieve their level of understanding of a discipline, of methods, etc.
In addition, academia is very competitive : frustration, bullying, d!ck-size contests, public humiliation are part of the 'scientific debate' unfortunately and it really doesn't help regarding the impostor syndrome. Meanwhile I try to promote 'kindness', but it's very very difficult.
I'm a faculty, for 20 years now, one of the youngest ever hired in my field and there is not a single day where I don't have this fear that one day I will be unveiled as an impostor. It's tiring, depressing, hard. But there is one thing that keeps me afloat : teaching. I may not be a great scientist, but I'm a decent professor : being in the arena, among students, explaining, describing, questioning these young, and often brilliant minds is the only thing that I find fully satisfying. It gives meaning to my life really. And that's how I cope with the syndrome, because I know that in my classroom, at least, I'm useful to somebody.
Don't Make Me Decide
I feel it almost every day. Especially when a decision comes down to me. It's like really? You're going to let me decide something that will affect employees for years to come? Are you sure this is a good idea?
I just push forward anyways and am not afraid to ask for advice and opinions. Lots of communication helps for me at least
Even If It Were Your Life's Work
I'm retired now. I went to lunch with an old boss/friend my last day and confessed to him that I was relieved to be getting out before they all realized I'd been making everything up all along.
Finding A Groove
I've felt this way the entire time I've been at my current job. In my last job I migrated from tech support to development, and my current job I was simply hired on as dev.
I'm one of those self-taught types, so I don't have any degree to back me up. I mean, I read up on good practice, I look at code samples and study design patterns and even worked on getting my math up to snuff.
I mean, they seem to think I'm okay, I've been employed here three years now. Still, I'm absolutely convinced I'll make some simple but stunningly amateur mistake and get kicked to the curb.
Little Love Notes
My brain, at baseline, is a swirling vortex of fear and negativity. I experience imposter syndrome often. All the time. All through grad school and in my career. I basically need my boss to explicitly say "you're doing a good job" and I need to hear my colleagues say "we appreciate the work you're doing for the team" and I need to see really concrete, explicit evidence that my clients are making progress or I just feel like a sham, a trash person, an imposter.
I write little notes of affirmation to myself when I'm not getting enough feedback from my team. I'll put post it notes around my desk that say "you deserve to be here", "20 people interviewed for this position and you got it", "you passed all licensing exams because you're smart". And those notes will usually calm me down.
We Are All Impostors
Being a Software Engineer that about sums up my experience at least first 2 years in the field and still comes up once in a while when I find a huge hole in my knowledge. The way I overcome it is realize that:
- I don't know everything.
- They (others) don't know everything.
- I know what they might not know.
- They know what I might not know.
- Stop comparing yourself to others.
- Look at what you learned, achieved, created and realize "I might be an idiot but I managed to do this, so even if I'm an idiot I'm damn capable one for sure."
- Realize not knowing something is temporary if you've the attitude to learn.
The Law Isn't A Popularity Contest
I'm a lawyer and every day I wonder if the judges and my fellow attorneys are taking pity on me for being such a blithering idiot. But then I realize I've been doing this for 5 years, and law is not a career where the other side cares about your feelings.
When The Stakes Are High
For what it's worth, my situation is that I'm a support worker for people with disabilities(primarily acquired brain injuries, but a couple of other conditions as well). Some require a staff 24/7, but others only have a certain amount of hours a week, etc. My educational background is as a child and youth worker, and I fell into this field because a lot the training and skills are transferable.
Depending on which site I work at and how scheduling goes, I work with about 8-9 different clients. Every single g*ddamned day, I doubt how I handle a situation at least once, and I feel like I lack the necessary knowledge and confidence to do my job in an outstandingly skilled way.
I feel like half my coworkers secretly hate me, despite a lack of outward evidence. Some clients, I simply can't develop a rapport with no matter how hard I try. The list goes on.
But I do the job, almost every day, and I don't see myself quitting anytime soon. I know there isn't an easy fix to how I feel. I just hope that I grow more confident over time.
How Does One "Become Secure"
i recently became a programmer. most people experience imposter syndrome in any skills-based field. it's hard to overcome—i haven't. confidence is everything. building confidence comes from consistent effort and becoming secure in oneself. that's the only way to overcome imposter syndrome.
Probably Gonna Get Pulled OverGiphy
I just got my license a month ago and every time I drive alone I feel like a little kid who shouldn't be allowed to drive. I'm terrified of being pulled over for anything even though I am legally allowed to drive and I don't do anything illegal while doing so (except speeding ig). It doesn't help that I'm not the best driver so I feel like all of these adults on the road are watching and judging me.
In my early 20's I decided I wanted to be a software engineer. So I started spending my free time studying and working on various passion projects. At the same time I was getting my bachelors in Accounting. I would go to school in the morning, internship until 5, then coffee shop until several hours after they kicked me out.
I did this for several years and all the while was absolutely sure that despite how much time I spent and how well I prepared, I was nowhere near as talented as the average professional. When I finally went pro, I was pleased to discover that wasn't the case, but I still feel like I may have missed some fundamental lesson that any classically-trained developer would know.
In the end, I think the more you discover, the more you are afraid of what you don't know you don't know.
The Paralyzing Fear Of Life
Probably everybody can relate to this, I think. I don't know about myself though because I actually don't get much done at all. I used to be productive I'd say but who knows anymore. I'm legitimately afraid to leave the house and think my phone's hacked, and I could take an antipsychotic but should I? What if my paranoia is justified? It seems like people on Reddit are reading my mind, or reflecting my thoughts back at me, basically implying that I'm a judgmental piece of sh*t. If we're actually anonymous, sure, but it's starting to get really strange.
Maybe I have a depersonalization personality disorder.
Is that imposter syndrome talking? I really don't know. I realize I do probably come across as a judgmental *sshole and I don't know how to cope with it or change it.
I'm pretty darn young for the role that I currently have at a big company, and I got very self-conscious over my first few months. I particularly still struggle with standing up for myself when clients or my peers are asking for too much because I don't see myself as equal or superior to them since I'm basically a 12 year old.
My therapist gave me incredible advice. If you say "sorry" a lot in emails, replace it with a phrase along the lines of "thank you". For example, instead of "sorry this took so long," say "thank you for being so patient!" It's been boosting my confidence and making me feel like I have more control and power. I also pretend I'm writing emails on behalf of the people I look up to most in my job - that typically allows me to act a bit more tough.
I Know ALL The Physics!
Physics undergrad here. I experience imposter syndrome almost daily. Sitting in a lecture or doing an assignment and seeing a definition or equation I should definitely understand and thinking it looks like gibberish until something simple is pointed out. Its like I feel like i know absolutely nothing until im pushed and all of a sudden some deep rooted knowledge ends up on the page, and i pray that i havent f*cked it up too bad.
Why Trades Are Important
I work as a lead developer for a big company, making 7-8 times more than some friends I have. I don't have any degrees and it's the first time I ever worked in an office - I freelanced my whole career. Most of the time when we have an issue, I have no idea what to do - I just Google it until I find an answer that maybe works, do that, see why/if it doesn't and google again.
Don't get me wrong, I know stuff, but I can't remember stuff - I even google simple stuff I used hundreds of times before. I'm with them for about a year and every day I feel like they'll figure out they can google stuff too and not have to pay me anymore. I'm not a fraud per se, they're happy with me and I get the job done, but I'm sure that one of these days I'll have something Google won't help me with and I'll be f*cked.
The More You Know, The Less You Feel You Know
This sounds so familiar. I am a student and finished my BA last year with almost perfect grades. I am in my MA in the moment and I have a student job in a company where I want to work later. They love me and hired me for the next project as well.
But I still feel stupid most of the time. I think three things helped me and helping me in this moments.
1.) Say thank you to compliments. In this way you may start to believe it.
2.) Don't compare you with the ideal version of you. Look around you. It sounds mean, but there are so many people, who couldn't do what you do. But that also means that there are also so many people, who can do more than you. So be proud with yourself right now.
3.) Sometimes I forget that my close friends are all as intelligent as I am. Maybe even more. So I don't have a good comparison. Just a good environment to learn. To always improve me. I try to keep that in mind.