The Single Best Way To Handle Imposter Syndrome At Your First Job Means Cutting Yourself Some Slack
Did you just land your first job straight out of college? Well done, you! If you were anything like me in that situation, you made a phone call and shouted, "I made it, Ma!" But only days into your new gig, perhaps you started experiencing what's known as imposter syndrome at work. After going through new hire orientation, receiving a welcome packet, and starting your first assignment, you immediately start to worry that you're not good enough for this job or that you're just an amateur. "Especially when you're a beginner, you may feel like you don't know as much. And the truth is that you don't," says Adam Smiley Poswolsky, a career expert for Millennials and the author of The Quarter-Life Breakthrough, in an interview with Bustle.
You begin to silently freak out about how it's probably a fluke that you're here at this company in the first place. It's because you were lucky or because a friend who works there vouched for you. You're convinced that without a series of serendipitous happenstances, that job would've totally gone to someone else much more qualified and deserving.
Sound familiar? You've definitely got imposter syndrome, and it's not uncommon. In fact, there is some evidence to suggest that while people from all demographics have had imposter syndrome, women in particular tend to experience imposter syndrome as a form of internalized sexism, including feeling like they're going to get discovered for being a fraud or for not being knowledgeable enough about their field.
The good news is that you don't have to deal with imposter syndrome in the office forever. Career experts say that the best way to deal with imposter syndrome at your first job is to play to your strengths and obtain the other skills needed to be a valuable employee. "It's good to ask lots of questions and want to learn. Being open to learning is a really important quality as you navigate your career," Poswolsky says.
Poswolsky touches on an significant point here: It's actually OK to be a beginner when you're just starting a new job. Step into your role and show that you're excited about the position. At the same time, give yourself permission to learn and make mistakes. On the other hand, there's a difference between having humility and being really passive and unsure of yourself at work, he says. Taking on projects when the opportunity arises, asking a lot of questions and talking about topics that excite you will up your confidence.
It's also helpful to remember that everyone faces imposter syndrome, including your boss and probably even your boss's boss, Poswolsky says; the same is likely true of accomplished actors, writers, and other industry leaders many of us consider to be role models, like Emma Watson. "If you don't know everything, news flash: Nobody knows everything. Focus on what you do know and what you're really good at," he says, adding that starting a new career is a great excuse to try new things. "The better you become at your job description, the less you're going to feel imposter syndrome."
Bottom line is, Don't give yourself such a hard time. Remember, you got that job fair and square. Whether it's because of networking, an impressive interview or a killer portfolio, there's a reason you got the job. You convinced them that you're capable, and you are. When you accomplish a major task at work and your boss gives you kudos, use that as motivation to keep up the good work.
If all else fails, just remind yourself that your first job out of college won't be your last. Figure out how it fits into your career trajectory and why you're there. "Have the perspective that it's all working toward something else," Poswolsky says.
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