The Impostor Syndrome

Photo by Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash

It’s been a while, but in my defense I’ve never been busier in my life over the past six months at the Digital Academy! While some of my colleagues are basically super human (looking at you Sinan) and able to put out the most amazing content on a regular basis with the crazy schedule, I on the other hand sadly don’t have these abilities.

The topic today is something I’ve been struggling with for a long time. Something that keeps me up at night frequently and is always on the back of my brain waiting to find any opportunity to drain my energy. Even now as I write this blog, the voice that embodies this prevalent phenomenon is screaming and protesting.

What will they think of you?

You’re going to make them find out!

Who do you think you are?

The Impostor Syndrome was first coined in 1978 by two brilliant psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. It was used to describe a pattern of behaviors in which the affected doubt their accomplishments and have a large internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. At first it was thought to affect only women, but as it turns out, it affects both genders equally.

It’s crippling

Never give up. It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light. And it will light the way..
Photo by Sasha Freemind / Unsplash

Whatever accomplishments are achieved. It is attributed to luck, good timing and colleagues thinking that the individual is smarter than he or she really is. To put it simply you feel like you’re never good enough and will never be good enough. You are afraid that any day now you will let your colleagues down due to your lack of ability. You feel like a coward for not being truthful with those around you and instead, forced to deceive so as not to be vulnerable or exposed. Imagine living everyday afraid. Afraid your incompetence will cause those you care about inconvenience and pain because they have to pick up your slack. This happens from when you first open your eyes in the morning to long after you close them and drift towards the dream realm, where even then because of our still cavemen biology, you are not safe. It infects every recess of your brain. It’s emotionally, mentally and spiritually draining; A black hole for motivation and having a growth mindset.

A delicate balance

Spinning Dream
Photo by Christophe Hautier / Unsplash

Now you might be thinking I sound like a very unhappy person. Quite the opposite. I have never been happier in my life. I’ve landed my dream job, work with co-workers who I consider my extended family and have the freedom to learn and follow my passions. What’s more everyday I go into work knowing what I am doing today will serve my country tomorrow.

However, as the title for this section states. It’s a balance, and a very difficult one. At any point in time the anxiety can come. A wave of irrational and unjustifiable terror that hijacks everything. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when and the thought of that creates what I call fearception. The fear of fear, an infinite recursion until all of a sudden a stack overflow occurs. Your heart rate is through the roof, your pupils dilated, you can’t stop looking around you and you can’t sit still. Congratulations, the very same feeling your ancestors have gone through when they see a lion approaching, is what you are experiencing sitting at your desk staring at a colorful terminal.

Are we alone?

A common underline of this syndrome is the feeling of loneliness. I mean when you have the imminent fear that you will be caught, how can you not feel this way? It is estimated that 70% of those in tech will go through this syndrome. Read that sentence again and again, 70% , 7 out of every 10 people in this industry will feel this way.

Remember the lecture you got from your dean on the first day of your first year of university. The whole look to your left and look to your right spiel? Well, look to your left and look to your right. Both these people will go through this emotional steamroller with you. In-fact they’re probably on the same train to oblivion like you right now.

Fundamentally however, I guess we are in the end alone. Each and every one of us is entrapped in their own mind. It’s a double edge sword. Your brain can be a palace or a prison. The only way you are not alone is to talk openly about it. Grab a trusted friend or colleague and talk openly about your feelings! You’ll be incredibly surprised on the commonality of these emotions and you’ll also have the added benefit of building a tighter bond with those you care about. If you are finding this difficult, don’t be ashamed! Go to a registered counsellor or therapist. If you are religious go see your priest, imam, rabbi or spiritual leader.

Have Hope

The reason I wrote this blog is to first and foremost remind myself I am not alone. This anxiety and the feeling of incompetence do not reflect reality. I have gotten to where I am because of hard work and I will continue learning and growing to achieve even more. I will never give in to my anxiety and fear. This is the commitment I make to myself every day. A powerful seal against a formidable beast.

The second is to inform you the reader that if you are going through this, you are not alone. You are enough. You are loved.

This too shall pass

It is okay to fail at things. No it does not mean you aren’t good enough. Struggling with concepts is normal and no it does not mean you aren’t smart enough. You have got to where you are because of hard work and sure there is some luck involved but you, by your doing and will and the blessing of god have turned this into an opportunity. You will continue to learn ,you will continue to grow, you will become stronger from your mistakes and you will actively make and commit to this pledge each and every day.