When You Constantly Feel Like A Fraud At Work

You’re living a lie. There are days when you feel owe your success to luck, timing or fluke. You think you owe it to your intuitive perspectives and charm, which helps you gain approval and praise from noteworthy people. You feel anything but adequate. Here’s the iconic truth: you have Imposter Syndrome, just like everybody else. Imposterism is a deep paralyzing fear that we haven’t earned anything in life on your own merits. It’s the overwhelming self-doubt and can be quite crippling. It is experienced by both, men and women. The feeling that we’re not competent and talented than the people around us who think we are. It is when you constantly feel like a fraud at work. It goes beyond false modesty.

  • I’m not good enough
  • I’m not perfect, nobody likes me
  • I’ll never amount to anything
  • I’m being dishonest by hiding my shortcomings

Imposter Syndromea term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes refers to “high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalise their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud“.

It’s All About Perfection

In a creative industry, where work is constantly on the show, imposterism is inescapable. If you’re suffering from imposterism, take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Studies have shown that 70 percent of all people in the world feel like a fraud at one time or another in their life. This includes, presidents, actors, entrepreneurs and industry leaders. Because Imposterism is linked to perfectionism, for individuals emotionally crippled by it, the only option is to fake it until they gain their most significant achievement. There is a lot of pressure to be perfect leading to excruciating vulnerability. People feel like a fraud, a phony, and rather than actually working harder to prove abilities, they actually bury themselves in tasks to avoid further responsibilities.

Actress and United Nations ambassador Emma Watson has repeatedly admitted she feels like an imposter. Essena O’Neill, an 18-year-old Instagram star with 600,000 followers, sensationally deleted her account, outing herself as an imposter and admitting that the lifestyle she projected online often took hours and thousands of dollars (in the form of financial backing by major corporate brands).

Some Pep Talk For Imposter Syndrome at Work?

In fact, it is so prevalent in the career world that we often undervalue ourselves. To state the obvious, this is why some of us are so bad at asking for a pay rise. It’s why we don’t go for a new job even when we’re absolutely certain that we’re qualified. A majority of those who suffer from it, tend to be overachievers, whose biggest problem lies in being overly critical of themselves.

Sharon Mark-Teggart, founder and director of The Curious Paino Teachers says, people who suffer from Imposterism, also possess 3 characteristics:

The COURAGE to be imperfect

The COMPASSION to be kind to yourself, so you can be kind to others

The CONNECTION so you can let go of who you think you should be

Imposterism isn’t a syndrome or a mental illness or a complex. It’s a form of internalized insecurity, which surfaces when we’re highly self-deprecating of ourselves. The only way through it is to fight out way back – slowly and eventually. Harvard Social Psychologist, Amy Cuddy in her 2012 TED Talk (the second most watched TED Talk of all time with more than 30 million views) says the more we are aware of our anxieties, the more often we communicate about them, and the smarter we are about how they operate, the easier it’ll be to disrobe imposter’s syndrome.

Priyansha Mistry
Currently editor at The HR Digest Magazine. She helps HR professionals identify issues with their talent management and employment law. | Priyansha tweets at @PriyanshaMistry

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