5 Signs you’re Suffering from Imposter Syndrome
Are you suffering from imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is the feeling of being a fraud in your craft. Despite solid proof of the exact opposite.
Feeling out of place is common. Research suggests nearly three quarters of people will experience imposter syndrome at some point.
My Battle with Imposter Syndrome
A story of my battle with imposter syndrome. I’ve been writing online for 2 years from blog to social media forums and personal journals.
Just to avoid working a ‘real’ job. I applied to numerous remote (work from home) jobs. Learn to write a resume here.
My first freelance writing client offered to pay $40 bucks per hour. All I had to do was write a post on tourist attractions within my city.
Flashing green dollar signs were all I saw. Considering that I never made more than half of that wage.
Many people coming from poverty are often taught, for a decent hourly rate, you need to get a ‘good’ degree in STEM.
Also, I’m from Canada Ontario by the way. In case you San Francisco/New York guys turn their nose up at my first gig rate.
Fortunately for me. Writing posts like these was typically a walk through the park. Because a post like this usually takes me 60 minutes. Maybe, 30 minutes if I’m in the zone.
Unfortunately, like many of those suffering from imposter syndrome. I panicked at an opportunity to prove myself. Instead of being excited my hard work was finally paying off.
As soon as I opened my laptop, ready to write. I hit a mental roadblock. My imposter syndrome kicked in. Procrastinating just hours before the deadline. Wondering if I should just cancel the gig for myself. Perhaps find an entry work.
Luckily, I was able to tuck my worries aside. The blog post took me 4 hours to write. First 2 hours were me pacing around about how I could possibly pull it off. A blog post for an actual client.
The last 2 hours, writing my heart out. I had a difficult time writing. Struggling to just be myself.
Editing every fine detail to the point of perfection. Details that didn’t specifically matter in the grand scheme. Like what font type to use, centering my heading, etc.
Check out my writing perfectionism guide here. It’s about freelance writing, yet can apply to everybody dealing with perfectionism.
Being Alone with My Thoughts.
After submitting the blog to the client. A dull feeling of anxiety sunk in
my stomach. The two days before my client response, were stress filled. Up to
the point where I couldn’t focus on any other work.
In those two days, my self-talk was overly critical.
“I should’ve taken more time actually perfecting the post”, I told myself.
“Now he’s never going to hire me again – I’m such a screw-up.”
The next day I received an email notification from the client. Before opening
the email, I kept thinking to myself.
Will there be a complaint/issue with my work quality? Took me nearly a whole
day to muster up the courage to read that email.
Inside the email, my client thanked me. Praising me for a wonderfully
written post. He was impressed. In the same email, he offered to hire me on as
a permanent writer.
After reading the email, a sense of relief came over me. Then, absolute
shock. How could I write a post that’s not only acceptable but also impressive?
Reflecting on the power imposter syndrome had on me was disappointing.
Constant anxiety, negative thoughts, and feeling unworthy. Guessing why did
that client like my work.
Regardless of me trying my best. I couldn’t get over the feeling of fraud.
Finally, I realized why suffering from imposter syndrome is so common.
Imposter syndrome stems from focusing on who you are. Instead of realizing that
who we are is the sum of our daily actions.
Creating a well put-together article made me a professional freelance
writer. Does not matter that I wrote it on my single mattress while laying down on a creaky wooden floor.
5 Signs You’re Suffering from Imposter Syndrome
1.) Lacking Self-Confidence:
Imposter syndrome causes sufferers to shy away from tasks slightly out of their comfort zone. Underestimating their ability to solve problems under pressure.
Confidence and arrogance are often confused with each other. Being confident does not equal thinking you’re the absolute best. Nope, confident people can accept their weaknesses, and appreciate their strengths.
Confidence is the belief in one’s ability to overcome difficult obstacles. Coming out the other end better than when they started.
Lacking confidence looks like keeping a closed mouth in work meetings. Even though you may have a unique plan/idea in mind. Caused by not learning how to just be yourself.
Another common example, not applying to certain jobs that they could be qualified for. Unless they’re clearly overqualified. For reasons such as interview anxiety.
2.) Anxiety for Being “Exposed“
Suffering from imposter syndrome means being struck with fear when outside of your comfort zone. Specifically, areas you may get exposed as an imposter. The thought of making a minor mistake strikes fear into their soul.
Due to worry of having peers harshly judge one’s worth. Even for minor mistakes.
Sufferers of imposter syndrome are familiar with the feeling of exhaustion. Due to regularly being in fight-or-flight mode for relatively simple tasks: Speaking to regular clients, working with co-workers, etc.
Those suffering from imposter syndrome may often avoid tasks where they are being supervised. Particularly authority figures: Bosses, managers, and people of higher socioeconomic status.
Sufferers from imposter syndrome are hypersensitive to rejections. A term is known as rejection-sensitive dysphoria. Mainly for rejections based on their craft and dedicated line of work.
3.) Doubtful Thinking in Positive Situations
Imposter syndrome comes with many negative thoughts. Doubtful thoughts can
make a person “their own worst enemy”.
An example of this would be “Thinking that your opinions are not worth being
heard”; undervaluing your self-worth.
Doubtful thinkers lean towards the worst-case scenario in growth situations.
Instead of being optimistic about the possible opportunities: raises, projects,
Every situation is based on the desired results. Helping them disprove the
negative image of themselves. In lieu of using failures as a tool for growth.
Having a negative bias towards your ideas becomes a self-fulfilled prophecy.
Acting on an idea that you doubt makes one act timidly. Therefore, leading to a
4.) Downplaying Achievements and Accomplishments
Downplaying achievements is a tell-tale sign of imposter syndrome.
When applying for a job, the hiring manager looks at your past experiences.
Accomplishments help assess your worth as an applicant.
Achievements are supposed to have a positive effect on future behavior.
Having early success aids our ability to take on harder challenges in the
future. A term coined as the winner’s
In fact, a dilemma of imposter syndrome can turn positive achievements into
obstacles. Those progressing further in their career may increasingly doubt their
accomplishments and abilities.
The consequence being that, while others expect more from you. Pressure adds
from thinking that you were lucky in your accomplishments. Holding one back
from expressing their full potential.
Developing more stress to match an unrealistic image. A double edged-sword,
considering how it can lead to a stronger work ethic advancing their careers.
At the risk of their mental well being.
Considering that the higher the position of authority attained. The more of
a gap between others perceived thought of yourself, and the warped reality of
those struggling with imposter syndrome.
5.) Negative self-talk
Remember, our thoughts become feelings, and feelings become action. Negative
self-talk is counter-productive. An unhealthy coping mechanism which often
occurs after committing smaller mistakes.
People suffering from impostor syndrome frequently put themselves down: “I’m
so dumb”, “Nobody believes in me”.
Learning a growth mindset helps improve from mistakes. Speaking poorly about
oneself solidifies feelings of being an imposter. Turning every mistake from an
improvement process. Into a blow to your confidence.