Get out of here, you Impostor!

Get out of here, you Impostor!

When I was writing the post about Rooibos, I had a moment where I was like “wait, what if I’m talking nonsense and someone just flat out calls me out on it?”. That was around the moment The Royal Society of Chemistry started following my Instagram page. Self-doubt and the associated anxiety was prominent. Then someone contacted me on Facebook after I posted the article and said “I want to call you so I can talk to you about your blog”. I thought, “this is it, here comes the person”. Turns out it was positive! Watch this space for potential collabs.

What is Imposter syndrome?

I am not a psychologist, so I am speaking from a place of experience rather than academia. I have read a few posts and watched this YouTube video from TED (don’t you feel like you can do anything after watching a TED video?). Its a real thing and its especially prominent in academia. A Wikipedia definition (chill academics, this is a blog post):

Imposter Syndrome … is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.

Original research found here.
Very important to not to confuse it with this!!!

How to cope – what works for me

When I feel this way, I am shooting myself in the foot because I end up missing opportunities that I was too scared to pursue. So I have come up with what works for me. Take it and use it or just stop reading because I clearly don’t know anything and am a fraud (see what I did there…).

  1. Firstly, accept that you will have these frustrating depressing thoughts and then allow yourself some time to feel them. I allow one evening and then the next morning I pick myself up and almost force myself to do something that I was putting off or scared to do. Like post my first blog post…
  2. I like to be organised so I make plans that make tasks seem more doable. To-do lists are my favourite things.
  3. Reach out. I am terrible at this. My boyfriend is great at recognising my signs and he feeds me tea and rusks and tells me I’m fantastic. Friends are probably experiencing similar things, so it can be a relief to hear others verbalise it.
  4. Some advice from a different scientist: “At a basic level, he urges researchers to advocate for themselves. That means avoiding words such as ‘just’ and ‘only’ when describing their own work, and not constantly apologizing for every mistake, whether real or perceived.” I’m still working on this one…
  5. Don’t expect to get good at something straight away. This is something I’ve always struggled with. In studying, in sports and even in the kitchen (my lasagna skills only came later). You have to give yourself time to try and to learn. Maybe even celebrate the failures since they’re learning curves too.
  6. Trust that you have done your best (and just double check you do your due diligence before clicking publish).
Point 1 above! Image from PhD Comics.

That’s it! I’m by no means the expert and I can’t speak for everyone experiencing this, but just know it’s more common than you think. Even if it’s just for a few moments in your life.

You gots this fam! You’re not an impostor, you’re human. Say yes to that job opportunity you think you’re under qualified for, start that business, or join me in hiding behind a screen and start a blog!

I’m trying to be relatable – how am I doing?

Some other interesting reads

  1. New Your Times article
  2. Science article
  3. SAYAS post
  4. Nature Article

Feature image from here.

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