imposter syndrome

I first came across the term imposter syndrome several years ago from a friend who was a first year PhD candidate at a prestigious university. She said that the first thing her advisor did at the beginning of her program was to sit everyone down and warn them about the imposter syndrome. He said that most of them would experience it at some point in their careers if they hadn’t experienced it already.

Imposter syndrome stems from the fear that you aren’t really supposed to be where you are, that you somehow got there by mistake, by some freak stroke of luck. And, you’re afraid of being found out at any moment. As soon as my friend started describing imposter syndrome, I knew exactly what she was talking about. And soon after that, I came across the term in Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In. Sandberg identifies imposter syndrome as one of the main ways that people, especially women, block their own potential for growth. And, she’s not alone. Tina Fey, Jodie Foster and Meryl Streep are just a few on the list of people standing up and admitting that they’ve struggled with imposter syndrome.

“The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ – Tina Fey

As my friends and I mused about the imposter syndrome, I was surprised to hear that it’s been a hot topic in the software development world as well. It seems like imposter syndrome is going viral. And, that’s not good. The only function of imposter syndrome is to block the potential for growth. It serves no other purpose. The good news, however, is that since imposter syndrome is created through habitual train of thought, you can change it.

You are more than your thoughts.

Just because a thought pops up, it doesn’t mean you need to do anything with it, including continuing to engage in it.

So you think you have the imposter syndrome. Now what?

Even if you are an imposter, what do you want to do with the opportunities that you have been given? In a lot of ways, it doesn’t matter how you got to this present moment. What really matters is what you do with it. So the question of whether or not you’re an imposter is beside the point. The point is in the present. What are you going to do with your life—right now?

Focus and Thrive, people! I want to see you shine!