My experience of Imposter Syndrome

Apr 14, 2022

Imposter Syndrome is when you think to yourself “I’m a total fraud and I’m going to be found out” and it can affect up to 70% of people during their career.

Back in 2016, I was telling a friend about my new promotion, and how I was struggling and felt I didn’t really belong. She told me I may be suffering from ‘imposter syndrome’. Up to this point, I had no idea what it was. And I’m sure at the time I thought it made me even more of an imposter. In retrospect, I had experienced those imposter feelings before, I just had no idea that’s what it was.


My earliest recollection of experiencing imposter syndrome was when I was working in Australia. I asked for more money than I thought I should, but they offered me even more. I thought they must have made some sort of clerical error, that they had copied and pasted someone else’s offer and salary details and given it to me instead. It had an impact on how I showed up at work, it made me feel I wasn’t worth the money they were paying me.


I have clients with the opposite problem, they feel they are being underpaid because they didn’t ask for enough money or didn’t negotiate their salary and feel that no one else would be willing to work for such a low salary. So it works both ways!


Another time I experienced it was when I started a new role. I had been out of the workforce for well over a year, travelling around the world on my way home from Australia to Ireland, by way of USA, and South America (including a wonderful trip to Antarctica and Galapagos Islands!). I hadn’t considered the impact of being out of the workforce for so long. Clearly, neither had my employer.


Thankfully, I recognise now that the struggles I had were less to do with my own abilities and more to do with the transition period I had. One trigger of imposter syndrome that comes up again and again in research and in workshops I do is the impact of a period of absence from work. When people have been out of the workplace for a long time (whether maternity leave, sick leave, long-term carers leave), the return to work can be really difficult. This is exacerbated by imposter feelings. Companies are also recognising this more and are putting in place programmes to help with this transition.


Does your company offer this? Have you thought about offering this in your organisation?


My most recent experience of imposter syndrome was starting my own business. I found myself in a room full of strong and successful women who I perceived to know everything there was to know about running a business. “Who am I to be here in this room with them?” I thought to myself. 


I have since learned that pretty much everyone in that room, and most rooms, feels the same. Imposter syndrome impacts on around 70% of people in their career at some point. It can come up when we make changes, when we grow and develop, when we stretch our comfort zone. Thankfully, there is something you can do about it. If you’d like to know more about the Imposter to Empowered® programme, you can find out more here: Imposter to Empowered


What has been your experience of imposter syndrome?

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