How to Stop Feeling Like An Imposter and Start Feeling Like You Belong
You don't have to be a perfect and flawless human being. You are enough, and you can do this.
You're reading this article because you feel like an imposter. You worry that you don't belong or that people will find out that you're really not as good at this thing as they think you are. It's normal to feel this way — and there are things we can do about it.
You're only an imposter if you keep telling yourself you are.
If you've ever passed off a group of people as your friends or told someone that they look great in those pants when they actually look like they're wearing a clown suit, then it's time to realize that everyone feels this way at some point. Even the most confident and skilled people have moments where doubt and anxiety creep in and makes them question their abilities.
Unfortunately, many of us allow these feelings of doubt and fear to become overwhelming. We start believing that there's something wrong with us because we don't always feel confident about ourselves or our abilities, and we suppress them by telling ourselves how amazing we are without recognizing what triggers these feelings in the first place. It leads us down a path where we constantly try to boost our confidence through positive affirmations but never really address the issue itself: that sometimes things don't go the way we want them to because life isn't perfect for anyone (not even for Beyonce).
Recognize that everyone feels this way at some point.
Having doubts, fear and insecurities is normal, and no one is perfect. Everyone has felt like an imposter at some point in their lives, even those who are successful and confident now. I was so concerned with imposter syndrome that through it — paired with deteriorating mental health — I actually became one. Recognizing that everyone experiences inadequacies and fear will help you understand that feeling insecure about your work and skills is okay, especially when you're new to something or taking on a new role or responsibility.
Accept that you don't always have to feel confident.
You don't have to feel confident in every situation. There's nothing wrong with feeling nervous, and there's no point in trying to beat yourself up over it. Your feelings are valid no matter what to the contrary is said. However, if you're constantly anxious about the possibility of failure and self-doubt is holding you back from doing things that could make your life better. It might be worth speaking with a therapist or coach who can help you sort through those fears so that they don't take over everything else.
But for now: accept your feelings even when they're hard to swallow — and know that there are other people out there who feel just as insecure as you do (if not more). You'll never find out how much more incredible life can be until you stop comparing yourself with others and focus on getting better at whatever makes you happy.
Remind yourself of your achievements.
Acknowledge your achievements. It's important to celebrate the little things in life and remind yourself of the bigger ones. When you accomplish something significant, whether getting a new job or moving into a new apartment, take time to acknowledge your success by celebrating with friends and family or just by patting yourself on the back.
If you don't feel like a person with any achievements under your belt yet, don't worry. You don't need to wait until one comes along before you start working towards some goals for yourself. And know that setting goals can help make those achievements happen sooner than later — once they do happen, remember to celebrate them.
Even if the achievement doesn't seem like much from an outside perspective (like when someone asks how much money was raised at a charity event), celebrating it is still important because doing so helps build confidence in yourself as well as other areas of life where imposter syndrome may be holding you back as a person from reaching even greater heights down the road.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness.
Impostor syndrome stems from a fear that you're going to be found out as "not as good" as everyone thinks, so you often feel like you can't share your weaknesses with anyone because it'll make them realize that you're not good enough. But the truth is that we all have flaws, and it's okay to accept our limitations and ask for help when needed. There's nothing more empowering than admitting that there are things outside your control — and being honest about what those things are.
By being open and honest about your weaknesses, others will respect and admire your honesty instead of finding fault with it. They'll also see how much work has gone into becoming better at something (because let's face it — no person was born an expert.) By sharing this information with others, they'll be able to offer insight on how they overcame similar obstacles in their lives.
One of the most important things to remember when you feel like an imposter is that most of the things we worry about don't actually matter as much as we think they do. It's easy to get caught up in our own thoughts and let them spiral into something bigger than they are, but taking a step back from what's causing your anxiety can help it seem more manageable.
The next time you find yourself worrying or anxious about something, try to take a moment and ask yourself: would this matter if I never spoke about it? Would it still be there if I didn't talk about it? If the answer is no, try not to waste too much energy on it.
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