Feel Like a Fraud Lately? Yeah, It’s Going Around
Imposter syndrome is heightened by the stress of the pandemic, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to it
Curled up on the bed at a hotel in Las Vegas, I texted a colleague to cancel the meeting we’d scheduled for later that day. I just couldn’t bring myself to show up. I was at the Consumer Electronics Show, an annual trade show where I was supposed to be working on business development, something I felt completely unqualified to do. As an executive at a midsize media company, I’d been struggling with an inner voice demanding to know who I thought I was to imagine I’d be able to handle this work — and the anxiety of feeling like a fraud had finally become too overwhelming.
That text was the beginning of the end. I found myself doubting my abilities more than ever, procrastinating on projects and even freezing up on tasks that seemed beyond my abilities, and ultimately I got booted out of the C-suite.
I had no clue then that I was dealing with a classic case of imposter syndrome, a very common manifestation of self-doubt. Imposterism, as it’s otherwise known, is characterized by the stressful self-perception that you’re not deserving of the success you’ve obtained, or that you’re unqualified for a task you’ve been given, despite the outside world thinking you’re capable. In response, you strive for perfection, which can lead to procrastination, anxiety, and exhaustion.
Why You Should Embrace Your Impostor Syndrome
Instead of trying to conquer self-doubt, use it to your advantage
Nobody is immune. The actor Emma Watson has said she suffers from it. Arianna Huffington has said it dogs her. Research finds it’s common among CEOs. In fact, it affects about half of us, daily or regularly, and men and women in roughly equal numbers, according to Clare Josa, author of the book Ditching Imposter Syndrome. And experts say it’s going around more than ever amid the stress of the pandemic.
“Imposter syndrome is context-dependent,” Josa says. “This means you might feel great giving a public presentation, but really struggle…