Recently, I watched a very fascinating video, where some women were invited for a face sketch. They initially had no idea that they were going to get a face sketch. They were individually and at separate times led into a hall that had an artist was waiting for them. The setting was such that they couldn’t see the artist and the artist couldn’t see them either. He only asked some questions and made a sketch based on their individual responses.
These women were then excused for a while and strangers who had met them earlier (probably in the hallway) were invited into the hall. These strangers were asked to describe the women they had earlier met, with the artist making a second sketch of each woman based on the responses he got from the strangers.
After the entire session, both sketches (from the women and the strangers) were placed side by side and shown to the women. By now, everyone was aware of what was going on, and it turned out that for about 90% of them, the sketches from the strangers’ responses were more beautiful and had more positive characteristics than the sketches made from their own responses.
It was sad to see how they had described themselves more critically than the strangers had, and by doing that, they had projected a poor image of themselves.
That video was an eye-opener for me, and just as I was about criticizing the women for thinking less of themselves, I realized that I was as guilty as they were. And you will agree with me that most of us are just as guilty in different ways when we;
Doubt and underestimate ourselves, our abilities, and our successes.
Self-sabotage and sell ourselves short, in pidgin parlance – ‘you take your hand do yourself.‘
Create a ‘less than’ or ‘humble’ impression about ourselves.
Refuse to take credit for our work and attribute our success to sheer luck.
Discredit or discount our success.
Feel like frauds and we are constantly afraid of being exposed.
This feeling is called the Impostor Syndrome.
The Impostor Syndrome is a belief or feeling that you are not as good as people think you are, and that you would soon be exposed. It is the idea that you have only succeeded because you were lucky and not because you were competent.
You see, there were times I passed my exams well, yet I’d doubt that they were my real score. I’d be afraid that if the examiner looked carefully, he or she would discover that I had scored less and would probably recall my paper.
And there were also times that I had poor results, and the only reason I held back from challenging them, was the fear that if the examiner looked more carefully, he or she would find that I had scored even less and only got lucky because they were absent-minded at the time my paper was scored. So, I’d just accept the poor score and not challenge the result.
I believe that Impostor Syndrome is not exclusive to any gender or category of people. It happens to everyone, the best and the worst of us. However, while most of us are overwhelmed by it, a few of us have mastered it.
Phil Mckinney, author, and CEO of CableLabs, comically put it this way, “All humans have a superpower – our ability to convince ourselves that something is true when it’s not.”
The Impostor Syndrome does nobody any good. In fact, I have missed great opportunities because I played small. There were times when I felt unqualified to be part of a huge project. When I felt too insignificant to sit at a large table, or too young to voice my opinions. I have stifled the urge to contribute during meetings for fear that my idea would sound silly.
Only for some other person to voice the exact same idea I had in mind, and boom! that becomes the million-dollar idea everyone raves about. I remember how I would console myself with thoughts like, ‘I am an introvert, ‘I do not like the spotlight’, ‘I do well in the background – right behind the scenes’, ‘I am humble.’
And trust me, none of these speak to humility or nobility. It is basically poor reasoning that emanates from self-doubt. Our sense of self-worth and value is critical to our happiness and fulfillment. If we do not hype ourselves, who will? As cliché as this may sound, it holds water.
You owe it to yourself to think the best of yourself. No one else can do it better.
The Impostor Syndrome if left unchecked, results in damaging outcomes such that;
You find yourself unwilling to take on new challenges, easily settling for comfort zones because of the negative perception you have of yourself.
The fear of being exposed as a failure makes you limit your options, leading you to make poor choices.
You have a poor outlook to life, because of the limit you have set in your mind. And you become toxic to others because you have a negative perception of yourself.
Some have even developed OCDs and perfectionistic tendencies.
It takes a lot of intentionality, self-awareness, and self-introspection to overcome the Impostor Syndrome. Therefore, I challenge you to look inwards and address it from the root. Could it be some past failure, negative childhood experience, or a genuine lack of expertise?
Move past your failures and seek the help of your trusted friends. They will hold you accountable and push you in the right direction.
Make the decision to overcome that negative childhood experience. Seek the help of an expert, check online for content that will uplift and inspire you to overcome it.
Be intentional about your mental wellbeing. Be intentional about improving your sense of self-worth. Speak positively about yourself and daily confess and affirm the YOU that you desire.
Graciously accept your success and celebrate your wins, however small.
Focus on the value you create and do not compare yourself with anyone.
Upskill where necessary. Invest in yourself and gain the required competency. Grow your confidence and make sure you GLOW!
I believe you find this enlightening, kindly share your thoughts in the comments section.