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How I’m overcoming Imposter Syndrome

I (Larah Yearwood) was hired by Creative Access in October 2020 and I have been dealing with Imposter Syndrome throughout my employment. Here, I share my experience and some tips to help others navigate through the same issue.

Imposter Syndrome is something a lot of people struggle with. It is the internal belief that you are not good enough to be where you are. That you do not deserve to be where you are and that maybe, other people will realise you are not as good as you say you are. A completely false belief that for many of us can impact on our work, life, and relationships.

My story

As a young black woman, I already face challenges in my life and career for where I want to go. Mixing Imposter Syndrome in with this makes life a little more complex. While Imposter Syndrome can vary with people, the general idea that you are not worthy of being where you are normally stays the same.

Before starting as the Marketing Assistant for Creative Access I was furloughed and then made redundant from my previous job, which was just devastating.

Anyone who has been made redundant will know the feeling, especially during the incredibly difficult year that 2020 was. I was lucky enough to actually be unemployed for only two weeks before finding work again at Creative Access.

Although I wasn’t aware at the time, it was then – on securing a new role – that my Imposter Syndrome started. 2020 was a rough year for us all and many people lost jobs. I felt that others who were still unemployed had more skills than I did; had worked for longer than I had; were older than me. And yet it was me that bounced back quickest. It didn’t feel right to me. It felt strange. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be hired so quickly. I carried these feelings with me into my job at Creative Access.

The struggle

To be clear, I am fully qualified to do my job. I have a degree in English Literature and a master’s degree in Magazine Journalism, as well as lots of work experience. There isn’t a single reason why I can’t do this job. Yet Imposter Syndrome has held me back from achieving my full potential in this role so far. It stopped me from putting ideas forward that I know could and would work. It stopped me from questioning other suggestions. It also stopped me from recognising my own success and achievements in this role.

Instead, I questioned them. I questioned if my ideas were worth listening to and convinced myself that they weren’t. I questioned if I truly deserved the praise I was getting and if the work I’d produced was worthy of any commendation. Some may say I’m naturally hard on myself (and maybe I am) but every time I was praised, I truly felt like I didn’t deserve it. Instead, the praise and acknowledgments that were meant to boost my confidence ended up shattering it.

The realisation

The self-doubt can be crippling. It wasn’t until I opened up to a colleague about how I was feeling that I was first informed about Imposter Syndrome. I then decided to some research and found that it’s very common. According to a report by Medical News Today, up to 82% of employees are impacted by Imposter Syndrome. 6 in 10 women experience it. Although the figures are eye-opening, I admit I was a little relieved to see that I wasn’t on my own and what I was feeling was recognised.

I then decided to attend a training session that Creative Access ran about Imposter Syndrome. During this session, I was able to pinpoint when it first kicked in and what caused it. It allowed me to connect with others who also have similar experiences and realise once again that I’m not alone.

I know this is a journey and I’m gradually learning to let go of these feelings. My hope is that over time they’ll fade completely.

Top tips for anyone struggling with Imposter Syndrome

  • If you feel able to, open up about it; Imposter Syndrome is shockingly common, and people will be more understanding than you think
  • The more I read about it, the more I related to it and the more I was able to understand that I wasn’t alone.
  • Don’t hide away. I thought hiding it and keeping it to myself was the best thing to do. It isn’t.
  • Keep track of your success. Having a record will help you to recognise that your achievements are due to your talent and abilities and not just lucky flukes
  • Embrace the praise because you deserve it
  • Remember no one is perfect. Everyone makes mistakes
  • Most importantly, remember your worth. We are not superhuman, but we do have the ability to be great at what we do. You deserve to be where you are.

I still have moments where I question myself and the praise I get, but I’m now able to quickly reassure myself that I do deserve the praise. That I do deserve to where I am today and that I am worthy of this job and what I do. I hope that by reading this, you are able to feel worthy too.