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Imposter Syndrome: What it is and How to Stop It

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BIG DREAMS = BIG OBSTACLES  

If you hear someone talking about their success, what’s your first thought? Maybe you think they’re being big headed or bragging; maybe you become envious of what they’ve achieved and start to compare their achievements to your own. But do you ever think ‘good for you you’ve worked hard for that’?

We can get caught in a self destructive rut of comparing and resenting our own success to other people’s. It’s only human to look at what others have accomplished and think ‘Why haven’t I done that?’. But what is dangerous is thinking you’re not able to reach those goals because you’re not capable. It’s good to be scared, and a sense of fear when trying something new is human nature and if you weren’t feeling that, I’d be worried. It takes hard work and dedication to reach a certain goal or achieve something new.

But what if you don’t believe you can do it? What if you don’t take an opportunity because you don’t think you’re successful enough to take it?

AM I A FRAUD? 

One issue that comes along with ambition and big dreams is imposter syndrome. I know I work hard, and I know I’ve done some great things over the past few years, but no matter how much I tick off my list, I always feel that I’m winging it. I’ll feel I don’t deserve my achievements, that I haven’t worked hard for them, but rather that I’m a fraud and have been winging my way through it, and I’m simply lucky rather than hard working.

This is of course ridiculous. I know I’ve worked hard, I have proof of that. But it doesn’t stop that niggle in the back of my mind telling me it could all fall away at any moment. It’s a deeply routed issue that I think I’ve always dealt with. Listening to Vix Meldrew’s latest podcast episode on it made me realise that this issue is something I’ve been dealing with for a while, probably from an early age.

WHERE DOES IT START?

Were you that kid that was told you were naturally bright at school? From the age of 4 I had teachers at parents evenings telling my mum and dad to start saving for university. I never had a lot of ‘She needs to work harder on this’ or ‘Ria isn’t quite grasping this in lesson’ on my reports. It was all praise and ‘keep up the good work!’. But the reality was I always felt like I was struggling. Subjects like maths and science were not something I grasped easily, but I was put into top set and had to muddle my way through too scared to admit I actually needed more of a hand than my CATS score let on.

Now I know this is coming across as ‘oh POOR you you high achiever’. But the pressure that comes with people thinking you’re a naturally bright person, when really you’re working hard to maintain a standard of work people now expect of you, is something that can hinder your own opinion of yourself. This expectation that I’d go on to achieve great things from a young age has made me somewhat of a perfectionist.  I set myself high standards and goals to work towards, and when I don’t reach them the world crumbles. I suddenly think that I am not at all smart or hard working, that I’ve been winging my way through life for years and am in fact a massive fraud who doesn’t deserve to obtain any goal what so ever.

Fucking brutal isn’t it?

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GIVE YOURSELF A BREAK 

I frequently get told by family and loved ones to stop putting such a huge amount of pressure on myself. Nothing I do is satisfactory to me unless I am praised, and even then I find myself thinking ‘well they’re only being nice they don’t really mean that’. I’m a pain in the arse quite frankly, I annoy myself. This is MY version of imposter syndrome. Belittling my achievements, degrading myself and my abilities to make myself feel more comfortable.

Why do we find it so hard to congratulate ourselves? Why do we worry that to say ‘I absolutely exceeded my expectations and did this and I am so proud of myself’ will come across as bragging? And who decided we weren’t allowed to brag?! The time sweat and tears your put into anything, be it a project at school, your university degree, your job, your home; it is all to be celebrated.

So if like me, you suffer with imposter syndrome, take a moment. Write down everything you have achieved, completed or succeeded at over the last 5 years. It could be buying a car, passing your driving test, finishing university, getting a promotion at work, or even overcoming a mental health struggle or medical issue. Your achievements no matter how big or small, are all down to the work YOU do. It’s not luck, it’s not winging it; you did that, be proud of it. 

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TRYING SOMETHING NEW 

I recently did something that was completely out of my comfort zone. The lovely Olivia (aka whatoliviadid) and Carrie (aka wishwishwish), put out a post on The Insecure Girl’s Club asking if anyone was free on a set date in London to do some filming. Now, it just so happened that I was already visiting London to see my friend – and the lady behind the lens on the blog Flo – and was free on that date. My first thought when I saw the post was ‘Oh my gosh I would LOVE to do that’, which was swiftly followed by – ‘but why would they choose me to be in front of the camera?’.

Regardless of what I thought and the doubts I had about myself, I got the email to confirm that they would love to have me get involved with the filming. So, on Friday I ventured out to Hackney, and emotionally opened up in front of the camera and a whole new group of women I’d only just met. 

I won’t spoil it for anyone, because the content is set to come out soon on The Insecure Girl’s Club page, but it was a couple of hours spent eating croissants, talking about our fear of rejection as women, our passion for positivity, and opening up about our insecurities in the most raw way.

So, it’s safe to say I am truly on the road to combatting my imposter syndrome. By pushing myself out of my comfort zone, and giving myself the chance to actually be positive about what I can do and what I bring to the table as a person, I did something I would never have thought of doing even 6 months ago.

So remember, don’t let your inner voice of doubt override your thoughts, and give yourself the credit you’re due for your hard work. You got this. You are good enough, and you can achieve anything you put your mind to. 

 

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2 Comments

  1. Nicki
    April 1, 2019 / 7:31 pm

    Another brilliant piece – I can relate to this totally and pretty sure many people would hold their hands up to feeling like this at some stage in life x

  2. MeJulie Bourke
    April 1, 2019 / 9:32 pm

    A great article Ria , well written and I am that person who never believes in my own achievements, I will now x

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