Quantcast

You Belong: How To Kick Impostor Syndrome To The Curb

Imposter Syndrome is real.

Workin' Girl

For many of us who are high achieving and trying our best to excel in our professional lives, there's often something that comes up, that if unchecked, can serve as a blockage to our success.

Before I quit my full-time job to pursue entrepreneurship and other creative endeavors, I had a comfortable and stable full-time job working in marketing. However, I remember experiencing overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and doubt about my capabilities and the work that I was doing. On paper, I had all the credentials. I graduated from Princeton with honors, interned for four years at a top media company in New York City, and was building my own podcast brand Dreams In Drive. I was fully capable, but in person I found ways to put myself down and often felt like I didn't deserve my seat in the company organizational chart in comparison to my colleagues. I envied my mostly non-white co-workers who seemed to just show up and show out, even if their output was slightly mediocre.

It was until a few years in and after doing some research did I realize those "feelings" had a name and was something many high achieving women like myself often went through. "Impostor syndrome", a term coined by American psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, and Suzanne Imes PhD in 1978, is defined as "internal experience of intellectual phoniness" by people who believe they they are not intelligent, capable, and/or creative, despite evidence of high achievement. Those suffering from it often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually uncover them as a "fraud."

It's complicated, but something that is highly prevalent -- especially in my inner circle of Black female sisterhood. While many may try to discredit it, the American Psychology Association characterizes is as "specific form of intellectual self-doubt…. [that] is generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression."

I spoke with Christine Michel Carter - a writer and marketing strategist whose work focuses on careers, Black moms, millennials in the workplace, and diversity and inclusion - about this. She shared some tips for xoNecole readers learning to navigate through impostor syndrome.

Reclaim Your Space

Getty Images

Reclaiming your place and role in history is crucial. Personally, when I realized the POWER (instead of weakness) I had as one of few Black women working at my company, I started to walk into rooms with my head held up higher and more resolve to make sure I was heard and respected.

Understanding our history as Black women in the workplace is important to consider, says Christine.

"Historically, [millennial and Black women] haven't been given the same opportunities as their white male or white female counterparts. There's always that feeling in the back of their head that when they are granted opportunities, that they don't deserve those opportunities because women who looked like them historically hadn't been given those opportunities. It's difficult to realize that you might have a better education or experience present-day, but it doesn't do anything to [rewrite] our internal dialogue."

Understand The Way You Work

You also need to understand your personality type and the way you work, mentions Christine. As someone who suffers from anxiety and can become anxious if she doesn't feel prepared, Christine makes sure to ask for agendas prior to meetings so that she is "set up for success." How can you make sure to nip doubt by making sure you're prepared and make others knowledgeable of how you best operate and create good work?

According to Dr. Valerie Young, an impostor syndrome expert who identified five main subgroups of impostor syndrome sufferers, certain personality types need distinct corrective action. For example, the "superwoman" will push herself to work extremely hard in order to measure up. To combat this, it's necessary to steer away from external validation and "become more attuned to internal validation." This nurturing of inner confidence will help you "ease off the gas as you gauge how much work is reasonable."

Take Note Of Your Wins

Getty Images

Keeping a record of your accomplishments is another way to remind you of your value, explains Christine. "It's nice to go back and look back at the things you've done and say, 'Wow I really contributed. I'm really a valuable team member. I'm very much deserving of having a seat at the table.'"

Don't wait until yearly reviews to reflect on how much and how well you've executed. Conduct monthly "How did I do?" meetings with yourself, or your direct supervisor, where you review projects and analyze your growth and ability to meet expectations. Include metrics and feedback if you can. You may surprise yourself on how much of a bada** you are. This also holds you accountable and ensures you aren't playing small because you don't think you can achieve.

Stay In The Now

Christine also recommends that we practice staying in the present moment. "Focus on the task at hand. Sometimes you can't worry about what will happen or has happened." Be hyper-aware of how your thoughts may be leading you to other damaging thoughts or behavior that are not conducive for growth.

Seek Help From A Professional

Getty Images

Don't be afraid to get professional help. If you've tried several of these self-help tactics and still find it difficult to thrive, a licensed professional can give you tools and resources for overcoming impostor syndrome that are catered to your unique experience. If you need help finding a therapist in your area, I suggest browsing the Therapy For Back Girls Therapist Directory.

Whether you're climbing the career ladder or pursuing the entrepreneurial path, learning how to overcome impostor syndrome is pertinent. Honestly though, could you imagine a world where more Black women rose up and said, "Impostor syndrome, I rebuke thee?!" In my opinion, there's nothing more powerful as a Black woman than walking into a room and making your presence known. When we stand up for ourselves and share our stories, we're helping to impact larger conversations that face women of color such as the gender/race pay gap, maternal mortality and more.

Though it took me a while to realize how impostor syndrome was limiting my ability to live up to my potential, I was so proud of the day I built up the courage to speak up for myself and stop playing small. So much courage, I decided I was destined for a career and life much bigger than the one I was living. I resigned and decided to pursue a career and employer that was more in alignment with my purpose.

There's no permanent fix and there are days when I feel impostor syndrome creeping up, but now I know what to call it and how to dismiss it.

For more tips on learning how to deal with overcoming impostor syndrome, check out session 22 of Dr. Joy Harden Bradford's Therapy for Black Girls podcast here.

Featured image by Getty Images

Want more stories like these? Check out the xoNecole stories below:

5 PhD Students Reveal How They Combat Impostor Syndrome - Read More

'Atlanta' Actress Zazie Beetz Gets Real About Impostor Syndrome - Read More

5 Ways To Stop Self-Sabotaging Yourself - Read More

We have witnessed Halle Berry go through many ups and downs in love, but it seems like she may have finally found the one. The Bruised star is dating R&B singer Van Hunt and she spoke with ET about the love in her life during ELLE Women in Hollywood Celebration at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, which took place on Tuesday.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Money Talks is an xoNecole series where we talk candidly to real women about how they spend money, their relationship with money, and how they spend it.

Samari Ijezie is the creator of The Female Economist, a platform created to challenge and disrupt the stereotypical gender norms within the financial industry while educating millennials of financial literacy. However, before founding this financial literacy company for women and marginalized millennials, she had a career in fashion and style as a model that started in her preteen years. Though she briefly kicked off her modeling career at the age of fourteen, it was short-lived because soon after high school, Ijezie decided to go off to college but later had to drop out during her freshman year due to not receiving financial assistance in the next term.

Keep reading... Show less

Many people love October for the new fall fashion fits, changing weather, and never-ending horror movies. And while all of those are valid reasons, there's another one that should be added to the mix, the fact that it's Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Like many, cancer has impacted my family personally, and I'm well aware of the forever effect it can have on individuals, loved ones, and survivors. That's why I appreciate that this month serves as a personal reminder to donate, foster community, and volunteer toward a fight that affects so many of us.

Keep reading... Show less

There's that old wives' tale that sex before a sports match is a major no-no for athletes, but when it comes to us everyday folk, consistent lovemaking does the mind and body good. In fact, sex and productivity can actually go hand in hand. A recent multiple-university study found that professionals who had sex the night before going into work had "more positive moods" that increased work engagement and job satisfaction.

Keep reading... Show less

While Issa Rae's HBO show Insecure is coming to an end, the star just celebrated a new beginning. The writer/actress got married to her longtime boyfriend Louis Diame in July in the south of France. The couple released the wedding photos on social media on July 26. And while many people expressed excitement for the 36-year-old, others were left confused thanks to Issa's sense of humor.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

Adrienne Bailon Wants Women Of Color To Take Self-Inventory In Order To Redefine Success

"You can't expect anyone else to care about yourself like you do."

Latest Posts