Have you ever heard of Imposter Syndrome?
It is a new term that I have encountered in recent weeks and I have self-diagnosed and realized I have this…big time! Here is Wikipedia’s definition:
High-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Some studies suggest that impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women.
It affects those of us who are unsure of our value to others and when we are successful, that little negative voice inside of us convinces us we are fake.
A few years ago, I knew that God was calling me to something “more” in my life. For 12 years, I had been a stay-at-home mom and wondered what in the world I had to offer. I wondered if my “more” was to do in the arena of marriage because I found such joy helping other couples build stronger, healthier marriages. I remember saying to my husband,
“What credentials do I have other than a healthy, strong marriage?”
I had overlooked the fact that I had been connecting with young couples for the last several years, helping them overcome the obstacles they encountered in their early marital life. My doubt was so strong that I ended up going back to school and getting a Master’s in Ministry Leadership. I thought that if I had credentials in something, it would make me valuable. However, when that degree was in my hand, I still felt lost and unqualified…for anything.
I know I am really good at everything that I do, but no one seems to see it but me. That reinforces the Impostor Syndrome. In my head I think,
“If I’m as good as I think I am, people will want to hire me because they can see my brilliance!”
When they don’t see it, the negative voice begins to shout,
“See…you really have nothing to offer. They would have snapped you up if you really had something to offer.”
We all have something to offer. We all have value. To believe that you have greatness in you is not prideful or cocky, it is the truth! Over the years, my husband and I have started several home businesses with varying results. When you are new to entrepreneurship, there is always a learning curve. We have had people mock us, doubt us, and even scoff at what we had to offer. Those that have been unkind have given strength to the negative voice that tells us we are an impostor. It makes you want to give up.
Slowly, over time, we have distanced ourselves from these people. Negativity needs to be cut out. After a few years of not owning or running any type of business, my husband and I are starting again. We have a joint company called Herring Creative. He specializes in coaching new actors in the acting industry. My specialty is setting up the business infrastructure (websites, email lists, social media). I am a strategist who can see how to set things up and get them going on a specific path. This works not only for tech but in life. My passion over the years has been mentoring women in the area of marriage, finance, and parenting. People come to me for direction and I evaluate their circumstance and creatively help them discover a path that fits their personality.
Beating Impostor Syndrome
Does that mean we are over Impostor Syndrome? No. Impostor Syndrome is a constant battle. That negative voice wants to get you to stop what you are doing and make you doubt your value to others.
Here are some ideas that will help beat Impostor Syndrome:
- Surround yourself with other entrepreneurs who will cheer on your successes
- Find a business mentor who is further down the entrepreneur path
- Know that there will be bad days
- Enjoy the journey
The journey will be bumpy, but if you ask any successful person they will say it wasn’t an easy path to take. The words I hear from successful entrepreneurs is “be consistent” and “give yourself a break when things are rough.”
Wise words that I’ll have to remember.