I Asked 100 People How They Beat Imposter Syndrome

I learned about Imposter Syndrome when I was suffering from it. I also found quite a lot of people talking about it on LinkedIn, which prompted me to find out how they deal with it. 

To find out the answer, I started my research online, digging through research papers, expert articles, and YouTube videos. Most of them suggest owning your success, acknowledging your feelings, and sharing them with others as a solution to the Imposter Syndrome. 

While sharing my feelings and owning success worked for me too, pursuing only intangible ways of dealing with the Imposter phenomenon seemed impractical to me. Therefore, I reached out to 100 people and asked them some questions about how they beat Imposter Syndrome and the factors that might contribute to it.

Let’s have a look at the results below:

Summary

  • 58% of people are still working on Imposter Syndrome.
  • 19% of people feel Imposter Syndrome at night when winding down the day.
  • 41% of people believe that Imposter Syndrome negatively influences their career aspirations and goals.
  • 33% of people believe that Imposter Syndrome positively influences your career aspirations and goals.
  • 79% of people experience self-doubt and 56.7% of them have a fear of failure or exposure.
  • 72% of people don’t have a mentor and having a mentor does not correlate with Imposter Syndrome.
  • 37.03% of people having 1-4 friends were able to overcome Imposter Syndrome.
  • 34.78% of people having 5 or more friends were able to overcome Imposter Syndrome.
  • Most of the people believe that their friends and mentors helped them overcome Imposter Syndrome.
  • Most people believe recognizing their achievements, upskilling, and taking challenges helped them overcome Imposter Syndrome.
  • 67% of people frequently believe they don’t deserve success.
  • 31% of people feel like an imposter when they observe others’ work and 25% when they encounter challenges in work-related tasks.

PS: I acknowledge that feeling like an imposter is not a syndrome but a mere experience. I use the word “Imposter Syndrome” because it’s well-known.

“If I could do it all over again, I would call it the impostor experience, because it’s not a syndrome or a complex or a mental illness; it’s something almost everyone experiences.”  

Pauline Rose Clance

How often do people feel they don’t fully deserve success?

46% of people occasionally feel they don’t deserve success.

21% of people frequently feel they don’t deserve success.

58% of people are still working on Imposter Syndrome

I asked people if they had been able to overcome Imposter Syndrome. 

36% said yes, 6% said no and 58% are working on it.

When do people feel like an Imposter?

31% of people feel Imposter Syndrome when observing others’ work. 

25% of people develop self-doubt when they encounter challenges during work.

13% of people feel Imposter during presentations or showcasing their work.

How does Imposter Syndrome affect career choices?

41% of people believe that Imposter Syndrome negatively influenced their career aspirations and goals.

33% of people believe that Imposter Syndrome positively influenced their career aspirations and goals.

23% of people had no influence of Imposter Syndrome on their career.

Is there a specific time when people feel Imposter Syndrome?

19% of people feel Imposter at night when winding down the day.

18% feel Imposter Syndrome during the day when they’re juggling tasks.

5% of people feel Imposter Syndrome in the morning, right after waking up.

58% believe there is no specific time when they feel Imposter Syndrome.

Experiencing self-doubt, fear of failure or fear of exposure

On a scale of 1-10, 67% of people rate their frequency of feeling like an Imposter from 5-8. 

78% of all people experience self-doubt.

54% experience fear of failure, anxiety and stress.

42% experience constant comparison and 31% experience fear of exposure.

Having a mentor does not correlate with Imposter Syndrome 

I asked people if they had a mentor to analyse its relationship with Imposter Syndrome. However, having a mentor doesn’t indicate the presence or absence of Imposter Syndrome in a person.

How do friends help in overcoming Imposter Syndrome?

My best friend helped me overcome Imposter Syndrome and mitigate the feeling of not being enough on most days. I wanted to see if others had the same experience so I asked them two questions:

  1. How big is your friend’s circle?
  2. How have your mentors/ friends helped you deal with Imposter Syndrome?

Below are the answers to these questions:

  1. 54% of people have 1-4 friends and 37.03% of them were able to overcome Imposter Syndrome.
  2. 46% of people have 5 or more friends and 34.78% of people have been able to overcome Imposter Syndrome.
  3. Most people believe that their friends and mentors helped them overcome Imposter Syndrome by offering constructive feedback, motivating them, recognizing their achievements, and listening to their rants.

Key tips to overcome Imposter Syndrome

57% of people believe recognizing their achievements helped them overcome Imposter Syndrome.

53% of people believe upskilling is the key to overcoming Imposter Syndrome.

46% of people believe taking challenges and showing up helped them overcome the feeling of Imposter Syndrome.

41% of people believe self-care practices helped them beat Imposter Syndrome. 

40% of people believe sharing feelings with others helps in beating Imposter Syndrome. This highlights why having friends is important if you’re trying to overcome Imposter Syndrome.

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome?

Most of us doubt our abilities at some point in our lives and a few things work well in minimizing self-doubt and anxiety. 

People shared multiple tangible and intangible tricks they practice to overcome Imposter Syndrome. Upskilling, recognizing achievements, self-care practices, showing up, and sharing feelings of doubt with others were the most common tips they shared. 

Let’s discuss how to practice them to feel better about yourself.

1. Upskilling

As soon as I learned that my failure might also be due to a lack of relevant skills, I stopped blaming psychological phenomena for my failure. Instead, I kept upskilling through online courses and workshops, which kept me moving forward. Upskilling doesn’t only build your confidence by adding more skills to your portfolio, but it also gives you a sense of accomplishment when you compare yourself with your past. 

Sharing my certificates and learnings on LinkedIn created a sense of accountability in me. Furthermore, receiving compliments and congratulatory messages strengthened my belief in myself.

Note: Enrolling yourself in too many courses will weaken your confidence. Take smaller steps, two courses at a time outside work or school are more than enough.

2. Recognizing your achievements

8 years ago, I came across the idea of keeping a jar of all the good things that happened throughout the year. The point was to open that jar to reflect upon good things at the year’s end to establish gratitude. If you use the same idea and replace the good things with your professional achievements, you can use it to recognize your growth whenever you feel down.

I decided to keep a folder where I saved all my certificates and screenshots of other achievements like testimonials and external recognition. Reviewing that folder reminded me of my worth and made my heart weigh lighter. 

I also shared my achievements with my friends, their words of affirmation also helped me feel better.

Note: Make sure you revisit the folder from time to time or you can easily forget about your little wins. Posting your achievements on LinkedIn will not only build your brand but will also keep you accountable and motivated.

3. Self-care practices

Exercising, meditation, reading, and skincare are some of the common self-care practices that are known to overcome anxiety. My favourite exercises is walking. Going out in fresh air and spending some time melting your calories increases blood flow and oxygen in your brain. 

I also tend to get creative ideas during a walk like new content or promotion strategy. My brain also sends me signals about my writing errors that I tend to miss even when I’m attentively editing my drafts.

Note: A 10-minute foot massage releases stress as well. I give myself a foot massage at night and the sleep that follows it is better than anything.

4. Showing up and taking challenges

Working in isolation will never help you grow. Even if you learn in isolation, you’ll have to engage with others to make the most out of it. Landing a new job, getting a promotion, transitioning careers, acquiring clients, or getting an admission, all of them require showing up and taking challenges.

Show up during presentations, conferences, workshops, social media etc., even if you feel you’re not enough. The first event might be difficult but you’ll start enjoying it once you start witnessing your growth.

Taking challenges will show you your hidden strengths. For example, I always doubted my writing abilities until I started publishing content under my name. 

Note: Show up in events where you belong to. You’re unlikely to improve your skills if you’re a designer and participate in an engineering competition. If you wish to become an engineer, you’ll have to develop a basic understanding first and participate in relevant events later.

5. Sharing feelings with others

Sharing feelings with others reduces stress and this claim is backed by studies. I shared my doubts with my best friend who assured me of my worth. I still reach out to her when things don’t work out, she does a good job at listening and affirming.

Besides listening and uttering words of affirmation, there’s an unpopular benefit of opening up to others. This involves getting them to share their woes and knowing others’ lives aren’t a fairytale either. People are always struggling at something, and when your friends share with you their struggles, you’ll feel at ease.

Note: Posting your learning journey and sharing feelings of doubt on LinkedIn is different. There’s always a possibility of a narcissist commenting on your posts. And if it’s about how you feel like a failure, your stress is likely to worsen. While you can write your heart out and post it on LinkedIn, it won’t work all the time. Speaking about your fears and doubts is good when you do it to people you trust the most. 

Last words

I’d like to thank everyone who trusted me and took part in this survey. 

Now I’d like to know how you fight Imposter Syndrome or any tips that I failed to capture. 

Leave a comment below and let me know your thoughts.

2 thoughts on “I Asked 100 People How They Beat Imposter Syndrome”

  1. Thank you for the detailed analysis of Imposter Experience Tooba! I went through all of them and your tips are so realistic 😊

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