Dealing With Imposter Syndrome
Today is the day that they find out I have no idea what I'm doing. For years this was my mantra. I'd wake up every morning and think this. Yup, they know. They know that despite my qualifications and all the interviews I went through and all the background checks that really I'm just faking it till I make it.
This is what I told myself for years and then one day I decided no, your good enough. Imposter Syndrome is something that I've discovered runs rampant through many young working adults. Yet, for some reason no one ever talks about it. It wasn't until I mentioned to a girlfriend over drinks that I was in fear I was to be fired from my dream job that she slammed her hand down on the table and said 'no, you are good enough.' To this day I still think of those simple words when i feel myself spinning down that long hole of 'what if's'. No, I am good enough.
Learning to accept that I was good enough has always been a struggle for me. As someone with an almost too type A to function kind of personality I need to be on top of everything. I've never been a go with the flow kind of person. I like schedules, knowing what is happening and a lovely little thing called calendar invites (seriously, I send my partner calendar invites for the most mundane things such as grocery shopping. It gives me a weird little high). Learning to accept my faults and even admitting failure is something that has always been difficult for me. I like to be the best. I like to know I have put in one hundred and twenty percent because one hundred and ten isn't good enough. Fundamentally it's who I am. Because of this however, I suffer from anxiety and the Imposter Syndrome that comes along with it.
When I first started working in the tech industry in the mid 2000's, we would have weird little competitions with each other. Who worked a longer day, who slept in the office and so on. It was the beginning of the now well known startup culture of Hustle. Work, work, work. For someone like me who is type A, this can be negative environment. Do I hustle? Hell yes! I frequently use the slogan 'you can't outsource the hustle!' but does that mean working for 48 hours straight, not seeing my partner for days on end and working until I have a terrible cold? Not anymore. I no longer wear that as a badge of honour, nor do many of my startup colleagues.
So, how did I stop the cycle of imposter syndrome? To be completely honest it's still something I struggle with. I have a post-it note on my laptop that says You Are Good Enough. It is a little reminder every day that yes, I can do this. I learned to not be afraid to fail. Failure is how we learn. I was happy to come across a little group called Fuck Up Nights that helped me embrace my failures. Learn from the past and move on. This is my new failure mantra. Now when things get really bad and I turn into an anxious mess, I use my phone a friend. The power of talking it out. Sometimes you just need to say it to someone else to figure out that sure, things might look rough but you have tools at your disposable to work through it.
I don't think I will ever be over my anxiety or my imposter syndrome. I've chatted with some friends of mine who are CEO's and they always laugh and say 'oh my god, I seriously wake up and say the same thing everyday... this is the day they are going to take away my funding or this is the day all the dev's are going to quit! My best advice on this is to try to find some tools that work for you. Send yourself reminder emails, set some time away from your desk to be mindful and think about what you are doing. Find something that works for you and give it a try. Don't stress if the first thing you do doesn't work the first time out of the gate. It took me a long time to get to this place where I was even comfortable chatting about imposter syndrome with a friend. Most of all remember, you are not the only one.