5 Signs You Might Be Suffering From Imposter Syndrome At Work
Imposter syndrome can be a frustrating and isolating experience all on its own; however, if you're suffering from imposter syndrome at work, your worst fears and anxieties can feel even more compounded — especially since for most of us, working is a necessity for our survival.
If you suffer from imposter syndrome, you worry that you don't actually deserve to be where you are. This can refer to any number of things: That you don't deserve your job title, your college degree, your expertise in a particular area, etc. Ir's that sneaking feeling you get that everyone is smarter than you, and you're just hoping no one realizes it and calls you out on it. It's that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach when you think you aren't actually as prepared as everyone else, and your boss is about to catch you. Everyone experiences those anxieties sometimes, but if you suffer from imposter syndrome, it can become a constant in your thought process and seriously damage your self-esteem.
It's worth noting that right now, imposter syndrome is not a diagnosis listed in the DSM-5; however, it has increasingly become a subject of psychological and public discourse. There's a lot of new research being conducted on imposter syndrome, the way it manifests itself, and who it impacts, so our knowledge about it even as an informal idea is growing.
As always, self-diagnosing from the internet is never a good idea; if you recognize any of these thoughts or behaviors in yourself in the workplace, you might want to consider speaking to a mental health professional. They're there to help, and a little self-care can do a world of good.
1. You Don't Volunteer For Tasks Outside Of Your Job Description
According to recent research appearing in the Journal of Business Psychology, people who suffer from imposter syndrome at work are less likely to volunteer for positions or tasks at work that fall outside of their job description. As researchers from the Ghent University discovered, it's not that these employees are lazy; it's that they don't feel they're qualified and are afraid of contributing a poor performance. Why? Imposter syndrome. Feeling like you aren't good enough to be in the position you're in may make you feel weary about taking on any additional tasks or responsibilities; after all, what if it's your breaking point and everyone realizes you aren't qualified to begin with? If you suffer from imposter syndrome, taking on these kinds of tasks might sound to you like a recipe for disaster, rather than an opportunity to learn a new skill or develop your career.
2. You Worry You Won't Live Up To Expectations
This is one of the primary indications that you might be suffering from imposter syndrome. In a work setting, it might refer to the expectations of your direct supervisor, your coworkers, or heck, even even the people you pass every day in the elevator. Imposter syndrome can keep people from talking about themselves, their projects, or their goals at work because they fear that something won't work out and they'll disappoint others.
3. You Consistently Seek External Validation
If you suffer from imposter syndrome, knowing that you tried your best and put forth your best effort doesn't satiate you — the validation needs to come from someone else in your life. This can be a circular effect if you crave this external validation, but don't fully embrace it, because you're still suffering from the mindset that you don't deserve to be there to begin with. This cycle of thought can seriously damage your self-esteem, rooting your self-doubt so deeply in your mind that your entire perspective of yourself and your capabilities can change for the worse.
4. You Focus On Your Failures
Do you ever feel like you play your failures and mistakes on repeat in your own head? Everyone experiences this dreadful moment once in a while, but if you suffer from imposter syndrome, it's likely you experience this more often than you'd like to admit. Everyone makes mistakes, forgets tasks, or completely drops the ball on an assignment at some point in their career, but if you suffer from imposter syndrome, these everyday errors can feel like they're confirming your worst fears: You aren't qualified to be here, you aren't good at your job, and so on.
5. You Believe Your Coworkers Are Better Than You
With imposter syndrome, you legitimately believe that everyone else in your office is more qualified, more equipped, and more capable of fulfilling their roles than you are. Do you ever find yourself internally believing that promotions should go to someone other than you, in spite of how hard you work? Do you ever feel the need to do extra work on a project or assignment because you think you need to catch up to where others are? If so, your imposter syndrome may amplify the good in your coworkers — alongside your own failures, making the contrast feel a million times more severe.
Combatting imposter syndrome can be difficult, but if you think you might be experiencing it, there are strategies for coping with it that are well worth a try. Because you're worth it — always.