Have you ever felt inadequate? Like a fraud? Like you don't belong where you are? That someone is going to expose you for who you really are?
Maybe you're experiencing impostor syndrome.
I would wager you do awesome things. Maybe you just don't realize it. Because your inner critic keeps cutting you down.
You're not alone
I sometimes struggle with this, too. Most people have experienced, or are currently fighting with impostor syndrome right now.
Really successful people.
I put on pants today. I consider that a win.
Don't fall into the comparison trap
There’s no need to compare yourself to others. You aren’t them. They aren’t you. Focusing on someone else’s accomplishments and using their success to beat yourself up is a terrible waste of time and only leads to despair.
Let others inspire you. But, don't let their successes fuel your inner critic.
There's nothing wrong with being a beginner
Regardless of how long you've been doing your thing, there will be times when you are a beginner.
Are you learning a new technology or skill? Have you joined a new team or company?
You will have legitimate feelings of inadequacy and anxiety. This is totally normal! You're going to stink at it for a while. Keep moving forward and getting better!
It's okay to speak up, and ask others for help!
Surround yourself with awesome people
Find people who will not only encourage you, but who are transparent about their own struggles. It helps to know you're not alone.
When someone gives you positive feedback, don't dismiss it! Write it down. Collect these moments to silence your inner critic.
Keep a record of what you've done
Day to day, or week by week, it may feel like you're not making any progress. However, if you look back over a longer period of time, such as six months or a year, you can start to see just how far you've come.
In software development, some teams have regular retrospectives to identify successes and things to improve.
Have a personal retrospective. No, this is not where you beat yourself up and have a pity party. Make a list of the things you've accomplished, no matter how small. Make a list of actionable goals and things you can improve.
Share your knowledge or time
Teach others what you know. You may have this feeling the things you know are obvious and simple. It might surprise you to discover there are a lot of people who would love to possess the knowledge you already have.
For me, giving talks and writing blog posts have been things that have caused me the most anxiety and feelings of impostor syndrome. At the same time, hearing stories of the positive impact I’ve made on people has been one of the key strategies to combating my inner critic.
Not ready to teach? How about volunteering to help a local non-profit? It doesn't take a lot of time, or usually any special skill.
Whether you teach or volunteer, you can have an amazing impact on others. The dividends are huge.
Be brave, and seek a mentor!
I am very grateful to have a dear friend in my life who has been my cheerleader for many years. He has the gift of encouragement. He knows how to listen to my struggles, and always seems to uncover the gold in what only looks like a trash heap to me.
Be a mentor!
Invest in someone. Encourage them. Help them to see their potential, and to believe. When they accomplish great things, you can know you played a part.
Give yourself freedom to fail. Celebrate your successes. Keep challenging yourself.
You got this.
Go, and be awesome!
Here's an episode on Impostor Syndrome I recorded with the Script & Style Web technology podcast. Check it out!