So you have just finished University and it’s time to get out there and show the world what you’ve got. You’ve spent all your youthful years studying for an uncertain cause but you have hope that you will make a difference in the world by trying to perfect your profession. But does it feel like every time you try to apply yourself you get this feeling that you are not good enough? That feeling is like a thief in the night, that creeps up on you and leaves you unstable, especially if you had to second-guess your abilities. I often wondered, was it just me who was suffering with these fears? To my surprise, a lot of people go through the same feelings; it even has a name – “imposter syndrome”. What a cool name for such a lousy condition.
Upon completing my degree, I got my first professional job with a building designer in Melbourne CBD; it was a big deal for me, as I didn’t have any local work experience.
I went to work early on the first day so I could get acquainted with the work place, but then that feeling started creeping up on me. I started feeling like I don’t belong and that I had fooled myself into thinking that I am more competent than I actually am. I started getting performance anxiety and feeling that I did not deserve the job. Remember I had gone for an interview and did well on the interview and legitimately been given an opportunity to apply myself and here I was second-guessing my abilities – this is one of the most paralysing feelings you could ever encounter.
I decided to do more research about this “condition” and which people I could look up that it had affected, the list was long – I soon realised that almost all of us go through this but it’s a secret kept within us – a secret that grips us because we let it… so I wasn’t alone. Soon the time came for job change, I went through the same process of employment and managed to get myself a job in the same industry but a much bigger organisation, and guess what – this new role brought out my old fears. An irrational “fear of being exposed”, despite the fact that I had rightly earned my place.
Over a period of time I started to realise that these fears paralyse us, they cause us to over think, second guess our abilities and get fixated on peoples judgement of us which might poison our interactions. We start to feel powerless and this starts to suffocate our presence – that’s how I began to feel in this new role.
Being outside our comfort zone breeds grounds for this feeling to creep in but you soon start to realise the benefits of being a novice are that you don’t have to be correct and you can focus more on what you are learning rather than how you are performing. It has also taught me more about presence and self awareness – the more we are aware of our anxieties, the smarter we are about how they operate and the more we communicate about them.
So the next time you start to feel like you don’t belong, just know that your are not alone and that you can over come that feeling. I have lived to tell the tale!