Most of us have been there – feeling like a fraud, waiting to be exposed, comparing yourself to others and being self-critical. It’s not pleasant but it is pretty common.
I knew I wanted to write about this today so I did I quick bit of googling and imposter syndrome has been mentioned by Maya Angelou, Emma Watson, Jodie Foster and Meryl Streep. Sheryl Sandberg even talked about it in Lean In. So we are in good company.
For me, personally, I can feel like an imposter with work. I am well trained, very experienced and good at my job as an antenatal and postnatal practitioner, as well as a writer, but I do hold myself back. I can feel like all that isn’t enough because I’m not a midwife and I’m not NCT. But I don’t want to be a midwife and, despite being NCT-trained, I chose not to work for the NCT so what is my problem?
Comparing and not feeling good enough is my problem and I have been making huge steps to change this, to believe in myself more and to feel more confident in myself and in my practice. This feels like quite a big thing to admit but it is a huge thing for me and I know it will resonate with rather a lot of you.
Mothers also experience imposter syndrome – as a mum you might be undervaluing all you do for and with your children; chances are, you are comparing your baby, child and yourself to other families; and, at times, you most probably think you are failing because you are not the perfect parent.
Truth is – no one is the perfect parent, kids aren’t perfect, families aren’t perfect. It’s so subjective because what feels perfect to you might feel so different to someone else – we are aiming for something with moveable goalposts!
Imposter syndrome can hold us back, it keeps us in our place, it creates anxiety and it affects confidence and ambition. When unleashed, it is self-destructive.
So, how do we manage feeling like an imposter?
There may not be a quick fix but I reckon it could help to…
- remember there is no such thing as perfection
- stop comparing yourself to other people – you don’t know how they are feeling and what else they are experiencing
- if you feel like an imposter, it is probably because you care about what you are doing, whether it is about being a mother or about work. So…
- believe in yourself and what you are doing – write it down and refer to it often, especially if you find yourself feeling inadequate and comparing yourself to someone else
- focus on the positives, which is the important stuff – what you have achieved and are achieving, what you are doing well, what you love and what matters to you.
- just write stuff down – get yourself a new notebook and pen and create a book to focus on all the good stuff. This is such a simple way to focus on the positives rather than being stuck in a negative mindset which is too self-critical.
And me, what I am doing about it? I am tweaking my little business to grow in a slightly different direction, I am starting to shout about what I do, I am going to make more brilliant resources for parents and I am stepping outside my comfort zone.
Deep breath everyone – we’ve got this!
Janine | Birth, Baby & Family
A specialist in pregnancy, birth and early parenting
(as well as over-thinker and occasional self-sabotage)