Do I Belong Here? How I've Been Challenging My Imposter Syndrome
The “Twice as Good” doctrine has been a guiding principle in my life for as long as I can remember.
Meaning that in order to get half of what my peers with privileged backgrounds have, I would have to work twice as hard. In layman’s term - at the time, I believed I was always coming from behind, trying to catch up.
Because of this - I developed a strong work-ethic and discipline, for which I am grateful. In the same breath - it also created overwhelming insecurities, rooted in self-doubt.
Imposter syndrome, according to our lovely friends at Google, is defined as “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.”
Imposter syndrome has reared its ugly head in school, my relationships and friendships, and in my career, in ways that I did not initially recognize.
As I progressed in my field, and this started in college mind you, I was often the first, one of few, and/or only black man in many spaces.
There have been countless times where peers would avoid eye contact with me so they would not have to speak to me, wouldn’t include me on certain projects, or I would have to go the extra mile to get what I needed.
At first - I thought I was being paranoid but after speaking with many of my black and brown brothers, I realized this was a shared experience.
Not surprisingly - it was having an impact on how we viewed ourselves and the opportunities we pursued.
I vividly recall times that I have felt I was not qualified enough, so I did not pursue a job/opportunity that I wanted. Or, there have been moments that I did not contribute to teams and organization discussions, because I did not believe I belonged.
I always had this underlying fear that I would be “caught” or someone was going to realize that I didn’t belong in that place and ask me to leave.
Much of the internal reflection, self-work if you will, I’ve been committing myself to has revolved around one question.
How do I show up for myself and others?
Am I confident, secure, and feel like I belong? Or do I shrink in the presence of others?
Moreover - am I allowing the views of others dictate how I view myself and what I bring to the table?
Answering these questions, truthfully, helped me identify the underlying factors as to why my inner voice was telling me that I was not enough.
To challenge that inner voice, here’s a few practices I started to incorporate into my daily life:
Practicing Communicating What I Felt – Journaling, talking with friends and/or family, and even seeking professional help were methods that helped me navigate “the imposter syndrome.” Through these exercises, I learned to verbalize emotions, thus improving my relationship with myself and others.
Speaking Life into Myself – Through my journaling and conversations with my support system – they all noticed that I was quite harsh on myself. Rarely did I give myself any credit for my accomplishments and positive self-talk was non-existent. I had to completely transform the relationship I had with my inner voice to be more nurturing, graceful, and gentle. Growth is a journey, not an end destination.
Embracing the Reality - Part of the imposter syndrome, for me, was presenting this public face that I was more confident than I was. To be candid, this was a defense mechanism, that in some cases were necessary. However, living a double life grows tiring, people recognize inauthenticity, and I deserved to live my life versus trying to imitate someone else.
Have you dealt with imposter syndrome? If so, what are some strategies you have incorporated into your life to deal with the effects?
Let me know in the comments and let’s keep the conversation going.