Have you ever felt like a fraud? Are you afraid that someone will realize your success is just pure, dumb luck? Do you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, and it’s just a matter of time until you’re unable to keep up anymore?
This sly form of insecurity was first called out in the late 70’s by two American psychologists, noticing that the feeling of “phoniness by people who believe they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement” was undermining otherwise smart, productive, and creative people.
Impostor Syndrome can strike anyone, but is especially dangerous for people working in competitive fields, who are already concerned about their ability to get ahead — like many women entrepreneurs.
Women in tech face a lot of scary statistics: we’ve heard women are promoted based on work history while men are promoted based on their potential, 83% of women report facing gender bias on the job, 43% of women report lower pay compared to their male colleagues, and how’s a girl supposed to find a great female mentor if 8 out of 10 supervisors are male? With sneaky self-doubt and insecurity in the mix too, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
But that’s just the Impostor Syndrome talking! When you’re feeling uncertain or unqualified, try one of these tactics to get your confidence back:
Keep track of your “wins”
Create an email folder full of praise you’ve received and positive feedback from your boss, clients, or coworkers. That’s the evidence of your hard work! Remind yourself other people believe in you, even when you’re feeling down.
Maintain a portfolio of your completed projects — and if you don’t have one, take some time to pull your polished work together! You’ll get a confidence boost as well as a supplement to your resume for future needs.
Talk to your network
Just like you shouldn’t be afraid to ask for help with big projects, don’t be afraid to ask for emotional support when you’re having a tough time! Friends and colleagues can help keep your spirits up and think positively and creatively when you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Mentor someone else. There’s no better reminder that you know what you’re doing than teaching someone else — and “paying it forward” to a younger woman in tech can boost your mood and bring positive change to the industry.
Take a mental break!
If you need to go for a jog, meditate, or simply unplug and reset, that’s okay. It doesn’t mean you aren’t good enough. Recognizing that you need some time to recharge is an investment in staying good enough and not burning out.
Everyone experiences self-doubt and self-criticism, but don’t let Impostor Syndrome stop you from succeeding! When you’re feeling critical, channel that instinct positively to identify real weak points (not just insecurities!) and continue to grow. Just don’t let that process stop you from seeing your value! Don’t focus so much on your weaknesses that you lose sight of your strengths.
Beating Impostor Syndrome can be a long struggle, not just a one time battle. Keep these strategies and tactics in your back pocket, so you can meet your goals, be confident in yourself, and succeed without self-doubt!
Written by: Maria Napolitano