Imposter syndrome is a phenomenon that most of us probably know all too well. It is a collection of negative feelings centered around a false perception of inadequacy and chronic self-doubt.
Imposter syndrome has shown itself throughout every transition in my life. It often seems as though everyone around me is somehow more successful than me, and I can’t seem to figure out how or why. I tell myself that I need to be smarter, or “keener”, or all-around better than I already am.
Although I credit myself on being a hard-worker – something that I value as a large part of my identity – I often feel as though I work at least 10 times harder than everyone else around me just to end up being mediocre by comparison. Regardless of how high my grades are or how “elite” of a job I secure, it is hard to feel accomplished when there is always someone else who works less and still achieves better grades or a more impressive job.
This has been my mindset for as long as I can remember, so trust me when I say that it’s a hard pattern to break out of. However, over the past few months I have come to realize that constantly comparing myself to others is a self-defeating habit that only sets me up for disappointment.
“So… what’s the solution?”
For starters, it’s important to accept that you’ll likely never be the smartest person in the room (or the most efficient, or the most organized, or simply put, the most put-together). But that’s okay! In fact, this is actually a good thing! Hear me out. I am a strong believer that if you are the smartest person in the room, you should find another room. Yes, it admittedly feels nice to feel as though you are on top of everyone else, but the truth is that there’s not much to gain outside of that temporary ego-boost. In order to better yourself, you need to surround yourself with people that you can learn from – people who do certain things better than you do.
Secondly, you have to break out of the pattern of constantly setting new goals for yourself. Of course goals are a crucial part of self-motivation – they provide structure to our lives and inspire us to work hard. But that being said, goal-setting becomes problematic when you continue to feel unfulfilled even once you finally accomplish that thing you told yourself would make you happy. Essentially, you are creating a never-ending list of goals that will never let you feel satisfied with yourself.
Imposter syndrome is a self-inflicted problem. Therefore, the only person who can put an end to these false feelings of inadequacy is you! So stop perpetuating your own narrow-minded view of success – it isn’t defined by a check-list of accomplishments, and it should be relative to your own standards. Instead, let yourself sit with your accomplishments and take time to feel proud before you start setting another goal.
Other peoples’ success doesn’t take away from yours! Work at your own pace and give yourself credit where credit is due. Most importantly, compliment your friends and make sure that they recognize that they should be proud of themselves too! Help each other acknowledge each other’s achievements, and let’s break up with imposter syndrome.