Babe, you got serious impostor syndrome

27 July 2017


Miss A had been frowning through the whole dinner. Her boss wanted to transfer her from Department X to Department Y, which unfortunately she hated. She spent almost an hour explaining to us why she didn’t agree with the stupid decision. She was furious and disappointed, but helpless. Nothing could ever be done to help this damsel in distress. “Why am I so unlucky? Why me?!”

Miss A wanted to go Department Z, which not only aligned with her values, but also the best AND the most challenging of all. After almost an hour of ranting and frowning, we said, “Why don’t you tell your boss your real intention?” She frowned again, “It’s impossible, she wouldn’t listen. Plus - I’m not good enough, Department Z is probably not going to want me either. I’m lousy and bad. I’m stupid. Why am I so unlucky?” The rant about her boss becomes a rant about herself. Unable take the rant anymore, I grabbed her phone and WhatsApp her boss, listing down the reasons why she needed - not wanted - to go to Department Z instead of Y. After I hit the Send button I was a bit anxious too, because she was anxious. This was the first time she went against her boss, the very first time she spoke up and let her voice be heard.

Guess what? The boss replied, “Great. I’ll talk to Department Z.” Today she is happily growing in Department Z.

Miss B is in a new working environment, so of course there are a lot to be shared in our dinner gathering. She has an interesting habit while narrating her story. “I’m not happy in my office, maybe it’s my problem you know. I’m such a socially-awkward person, I’m not good at this and that, so when my colleagues… The other day I was so terrible, I guess I’m just useless, I accidentally… My boss was strict, I think I can never live up to that standard. I’m really slow in learning…” Every story begins with a description, a bad one, of herself. Before she even narrated the story, she already exuded an impression that she is the worst and dumbest human being ever lived. Knowing her for years, we broke down each story and kept telling her it’s not her fault, but it seemed like all these encouragement and positivity couldn’t pull her out of the story she told herself – that she is bad.

So after reading the true stories of Miss A and B, can you spot a pattern? They both think they are the worst, they are not good enough - not good enough to speak, to be heard, to perform, and to go after what they want. So they surrender. They passively take in everything while in their heart they are opposing everything.

I’m writing like it’s a sin to feel that way, somemore I nosily grabbed Miss A’s phone and texted her superior. I’m so cool, calm and ballsy.

Ha, nope. I’m one of them.

Guess why I didn’t write on this blog for so long? Because some people came up to me and told me they read my blog and they liked it. THEY LIKED IT?! NO NO NO NOBODY SHOULD BE READING THIS  Thanks for the compliment, but if you think, well great yeah, that should motivate me to write. Well hell no, I used to write freely, but now I have vivid impressions that SOMEONE out there is reading my blog. They might be judging me. They might pick on my grammar or vocabulary, my friends might think I’m such an attention-seeker, my peers might think I’m too free, my boss might be thinking I’m wasting my time.... These things haunt me. If you are that kind of person who are seldom seen in the public and you are suddenly the center of attention, the feeling of being naked and exposed is very crippling and suffocating.

It is only recently that I know that this feeling has a name – Impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is “a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled”. It is “at heart a social anxiety, drives those who suffer from it forward; insecurity, on the other hand, tends to make people shy away from taking risks.” This is not uncommon.

What are the symptoms of impostor syndrome? How do you know if you suffer from it? This article is really useful. Here’s a snippet of it:

1. When People Praise You, You Fear You Won’t Live Up To Their Expectations. Instead of internalizing their praise and really taking it in, your knee-jerk emotional response is to feel ashamed and unworthy (me).

2. You Feel Your Success Is Due To Luck. Even though you got good grades in school, beat out many competitors to land this job, and may have even received raises and promotions, you nevertheless feel that your success thus far is accidental, not earned.

3. You’re Afraid Others Will Discover How Little You Know.

4. When You Succeed, You Have Doubts About Being Able To Do It Again. Like number 2, above, you have a feeling that every small triumph you achieve was accidental. Putting feelings aside for the moment, if you think about it rationally, you’ll realize that a lot of hard work and preparation led to your success.

5. You Believe Others Are More Intelligent Than You. Everyone is intelligent in a different way. Stop measuring yourself in such a limited (and inaccurate) way.

6. If You’re Up For A Promotion, You Don’t Tell Anyone Until It’s A Done Deal. You project your fears onto others. Why would you be up for a promotion if those above you didn’t think you deserve it?

7. You Feel You Have To Work Harder Than Others. *Unrealistic perfectionism*

8. You Always Have A Backup Plan Ready In Case You’re “Discovered.” Successful people who talk about their impostor syndrome report that they have an internal monologue that goes something like this, “If this job doesn’t work out, I can always teach/start a business/go back to school.” In other words, they can’t really believe that this good situation can last.

9. You Seek External Validation, Yet Don’t Fully Believe It When It Comes. It’s good to be humble in the face of major recognition, such as an article written about you or a company-wide announcement that your sales numbers were highest. But people with impostor syndrome can’t always hear what others say about them and just allow themselves to feel unabashedly proud.


10.  You Keep Your Real Life—Upbringing, Degrees, Etc.—Secret From Peers. Some people would be proud that they were the first person in their family to graduate from college, but for you, it’s a badge of shame—something that makes you different from those around you. If you looked closer, however, you’d probably find that others attended ordinary schools, or got Bs, or had to overcome some kind of challenge to get where they are. Stop making generalizations about your peers that are simply not true.

Women, especially, experience impostor syndrome. They “may be less willing to put themselves forward, feeling that they are not qualified.


Source
You might think that impostor syndrome is lacking self-esteem and confidence. Yes but I will add one more part to that – impostor syndrome is lacking self-esteem and confidence, but having too much ego, that you are too protective of your comfort and unwilling to be open, vulnerable and take a leap. I’ll write more about my experience with this concept, that is of course, if I overcome the impostor syndrome and I’m willing to share my writing with you again…….

Our society generally prefer people, or children who are obedient and quiet, and despise people with strong opinion or ask question. Personally, I think it will take me a while to undo that mindset. It’s a mind habit that I am too accustomed to, that sometimes if I do something brave I will surprise myself. But something seen cannot be unseen, being aware of it is the first step to improve. I will care my syndrome with patience and care. You can also read this good article to know how to overcome impostor syndrome.

So after reading thus far, are you experiencing impostor syndrome? Or do you know anyone who is?

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