• Corrina Thurston

Imposter Syndrome and How To Get Past It

Updated: Nov 23, 2018

Imposter Syndrome. It’s what happens when you feel out of place and like you don’t deserve whatever it is that’s happening. Whether you’ve been elected to something, are winning an award, are selected to be part of some group, etc. it can spring up on you unexpectedly and make you question why or how you got there.

Imposter Syndrome can make you feel like a fraud. It can make you self-conscious and scared to share your opinion or facts about yourself, because what if those around you start to realize your an imposter too?

I’ve been struck by this problem multiple times in the last year. As I get out in the community more, I’m being recognized more. I’ve been put in rooms with change-makers, thought leaders, policy-makers, entrepreneurs and CEO’s where I’ve felt out of my depth. I’ve also given speeches and taught workshops at which I’m considered the “expert” in the room, which are totally different, but that same doubt can creep in leading up to the event, despite the fact that so far all of them have gone extremely well.

Recognizing The Syndrome

If you’re shy or nervous, it might be more difficult to recognize the fact that you’re suffering from Imposter Syndrome. But if you feel out of place, if you feel like those in the room might suddenly realize that you’re out of place and will think less of you, if you think you’re not as deserving for one reason or another to be there, then I’d bet Imposter Syndrome has its hooks in you too.

Recognizing it is the first step, because if you don’t realize it’s there, if you can’t see that this thing is weighing you down, then you can’t work on it or fix it and it will continue to sabotage you.

It’s not just nerves. Nerves alone don’t make you feel unqualified. Nerves alone don’t make you think less of yourself.

So recognize that Imposter Syndrome has formed around your head like a heavy crown, and then you can try to fix it.

You Deserve To Be In The Room

Photo credit: Brodie Vissers from Burst

I gave a short speech the other night on this exact topic. I applied to and was accepted to be one of 25 people under the age of 35 to be a part of the Vermont Change-Makers Table for the 2017–2018 cohort. It was a great experience and I was asked back to talk with the newest cohort about what it was like and any advice I had.

So I told them the truth.

For the first two sessions with my own group, I suffered from Imposter Syndrome. I looked around the room at all these amazing change-makers and young leaders and wondered how the hell I got there. Out of all the applications, how did they end up choosing me to participate in this elite group?

I was likely the only one there without a college degree (I had to medically withdraw from college after only one semester). I was the only artist there. I was the only one there with a chronic illness. I had been in business for less than two years.

And so on. And so on.

During our conversations my brain kept coming back to these facts and kept me quiet in my seat. I was actively listening and engaged and learning, but what did I have to add?

It wasn’t until our third session that I had an epiphany.

Perhaps my different path, my different life circumstance, my extra challenges and different perspective were exactly what that group needed. Perhaps my value WAS that I was different and I’ve lived a different life than those in the room.

What I learned was that every perspective has a right to be heard, especially in a room like that. We were a thought-group. As such, you don’t want a group like that to be made up of people who all agree and have the same perspective. What you want is congenial conversations between leaders who have DIFFERENT perspectives and viewpoints. What you want is thought-provoking discussions and genuine efforts toward positive change in your community.

So what I told the new cohort was this: Even if you don’t feel it right now, you deserve to be in the room. You applied and were chosen for a reason. You’re here for a reason, so don’t let something like Imposter Syndrome stop you from getting the most out of it.

Even if you feel overwhelmed or intimidated or in awe of those around you, you deserve to be here too.

A Recurring Issue

Unfortunately if you suffer from Imposter Syndrome once, you can bet it might happen again. It’s a form of self-doubt. It’s a particular lack of confidence that stems from your own social anxiety, depression, way you grew up, guilt, or other underlying cause.

I struggle with all those things, and right now, as I just discovered I’m being given an award, I can feel my Imposter Syndrome creeping in again. In a month (November 2018) I’m being recognized as one of the Top 40 Rising Stars Under 40 in the state of Vermont by the Vermont Business Magazine.

Why me? I know some of the candidates who were also nominated and are not winning this award and I can’t help but think they are more qualified and more important. I can’t help but wonder how on earth I was chosen over them.

But I was.

Kick It To The Curb

Photo credit: Nicole De Khors from Burst

Now that I’ve recognized that my Imposter Syndrome has returned, it’s time to kick it to the curb. I was nominated by those in the community and then chosen by a panel of judges. They made their decisions and I didn’t have much to do with it.

I’m honored to have been among those chosen for 2018.

So now it’s time for me to recognize my worth and remember that I deserve to be in the room. Instead of letting my Imposter Syndrome stop me from celebrating this recognition, I’m embracing it.

I’m one of the very few artists to win this award in the eight years it’s been around, and I would guess I’m one of the only people to win it despite having a chronic illness as well.

It’s something to be proud of, so whenever those Imposter Syndrome needles start to dig into me, I remind myself to embrace the recognition, feel confident in my worth, and recognize that my differences make me unique, not lesser in any way.

Your Turn

What’s causing you to feel the weight of the self-doubt that is Imposter Syndrome? What is it that’s making you feel like you’re not qualified, worthy, or important?

Take note and start to recognize the pattern.

And then kick it to the curb and realize that you deserve to be in the room.

Think about your qualities. Think about your accomplishments so far, big and small. Recognize that you’re where you are for a reason. You got into that room somehow, so embrace it, learn from the experience, and move forward with confidence.

You are worthy.

Don’t let anyone, including yourself, make you feel otherwise.

Keep an eye out for more about topics like this in my upcoming book to be released in 2019: How To Crush Self-Doubt and Gain Real Confidence.

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