On Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and Self-Doubt

Let me start by telling you a story.

Everything started when I luckily got into the best secondary school in my town. I was in a class of the best students there and I think I’m lucky I survived and still managed to get a pretty high grade, even though I wasn’t the top student in my class.

Then, I got lucky again. I got into the best high school in my town. Not only that, I also had a chance to enroll in an accelerated class, where I could finish high school in 2 years, instead of 3 years. I “luckily” survived again and managed to be the second best student in the class, in term of grades.

My good fortune didn’t stop there. I somehow managed to be admitted into one of the best, if not the best tech institute in Indonesia. Although I have no extraordinary achievement throughout college, I feel pretty blessed I could survive with a somewhat good grade.

Now, I work with one of the best FMCG company in the world, although I’m not quite sure how I could even have a chance to get here with my indistinguishable skills and competence.

Somehow, I’m afraid that someday, everyone will find out that I just got lucky my whole life. I’m afraid the will find out that I’m not actually that good, that I don’t actually deserve to get into the best schools and to work in the best company. I feel like I’m in a constant fear of being discovered a fraud my whole life.

Imposter Syndrome

So, I recently discovered that this chronic feeling of self-doubt is actually a thing. And it is called Imposter Syndrome.

But, what exactly is an Imposter Syndrome?

From what I read, it is simply a psychological phenomenon, not quite a mental disorder, that reflects your belief of being a complete utter failure, despite the evidence of your success and skills.

Then, is there any symptom of this phenomenon?

Actually, the syndrome will take form differently for each people. But in general, there are common traits someone with the syndrome have: perfectionism, micromanagement, overworking, fear of failure, self-doubt, and low confidence.

I’m quite relieved, though surprised, that I’m not alone. A lot of people, even the famous ones such as Natalie Portman and Emma Watson are experiencing this kind of feeling. They constantly worry that they don’t deserve your attention, that they are not worthy enough.

This syndrome, although seems harmless, can actually be destructive. It can cause you to think negatively about yourself. Those negative thoughts often cause a low self-esteem. And these usually will spiral down, causing stress, anxiety, and even depression. Or at least that’s what I experienced.

How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome?

To be honest, I’m still struggling with this. I found some suggestions on dealing with Imposter Syndrome that I think might work. Actually, I write them here as a note for myself, in case I’m having periods in the future.

  1. Learn to embrace failure. A lot of people usually get the syndrome when they are failing. When we embrace failure, we will know that failure is a natural part of the process, that it is okay to fail once or twice, and that it is a part of the success.
  2. Realize that there’s no shame in asking for a help. The syndrome might kick-in when you realize that you can’t figure out how to solve a problem. Actually, that is normal, you don’t need to know everything to not be a fraud. Once you acknowledge that not knowing something is alright, your fraudulent feelings might get better.
  3. Recognize your accomplishment. Be content with what you’ve done. Learn to appreciate yourself. Accept that you contributed to your success. When you look back at your past achievements, you might realize that you actually deserve that, that you’re not a fraud after all.
  4. Keep records of nice things people said about you. When you the episode is starting, visit this records and see your wins. Knowing that people acknowledge something good about you will make you feel less like a fraud.

There are actually a lot of things that helped people with their syndrome. But these four are what I have started practicing whenever the syndrome comes in. What do you think? Have you ever felt like a fraud? How did you deal with that?


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