If you’re unfamiliar with the term, imposter syndrome is a general feeling of anxiety that is rooted in believing that you’re not what others believe you to be. If you suffer from imposter syndrome, you tend to believe that you’re not as qualified, as smart, or as talented as outsiders believe, and that you’re effectively an “imposter” or a “fake” who hasn’t been discovered. You tend to believe that anything good that’s happened to you is a result of luck and not your own talents. While not officially a recognized psychological disorder, at least in a clinical sense, imposter syndrome is a topic of conversation in the mental health community. It’s especially prevalent online, and in people who are online personalities.
Here’s the simplest way to fight it and overcome it if you do suffer from it: keep your LinkedIn profile up to date. While this sounds like both a joke (it isn’t) and hair of the dog (it is), it’s one of the best ways to fight against imposter syndrome. Keep your LinkedIn profile up to date with all of your accomplishments, and edit it frequently to ensure that it’s accurate. If you publish a new white paper, be sure to record that in publications. If you speak publicly, list that under jobs or achievements. If you snag an award, be sure to record that in achievements.
Imposter syndrome crumbles under the weight of your legacy of achievements. After even a short time of doing legitimately useful and great things, your track record becomes impossible for you to deny. After spending a lot of time doing clerical work on your profile, not only will you believe in yourself and your accomplishments, but you can channel the inevitable boredom to your benefit: “If I wasn’t this good at what I do, updating this damn profile wouldn’t take so bloody long”.
The only warning about countering imposter syndrome is this: it’s equally easy to fall into an ego trap of believing you’re greater than you actually are. For that, be sure to have a network of trusted friends and family who can gently or not-so-gently help you keep your feet planted firmly on the ground by reality-checking you when it’s called for. I rely on a close circle of friends and my martial friends at the Boston Martial Arts Center to physically reinforce the lesson that I’m always a student, always learning, and always could be better than I am.
It’s a fine line to walk between not believing you’re good enough and believing you’re better than you are. Hopefully the ideas in this post will help you to balance it carefully!
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