Imposter syndrome is a very common phenomenon among individuals, both in the workplace and outside of it. It is characterized by self-doubt and the fear of being exposed as a fraud or as not good enough.
I had my struggles with imposter syndrome, and I would love to share this experience with you. This article is a recap of how I won, failed, and experienced 2022. In this article, I will share the goals I had for 2022 and the challenges I encountered. I will share how I dealt with imposter syndrome and avoided self-sabotage.
What is Imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is an internal psychological experience that causes individuals to think they are frauds. It often makes people unable to internalize their accomplishments and instead attribute them to other factors. It’s so common that it affects up to 70% of the population. The term was coined by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline Clance and Dr. Suzanne Imes in 1978, but the phenomenon has been around for centuries.
Imposter syndrome causes people to believe that their successes are not truly deserved. This can be attributed to a lack of confidence, low self-esteem, and the fear of being exposed as an imposter.
It’s important to remember that it’s completely normal to feel like you don’t belong at work. In fact, many people feel this way, and it doesn’t mean that there is anything wrong with you or your abilities. However, if these feelings become overwhelming, you may want to talk with someone about them or find ways to cope.
What is Self Sabotage
Self-sabotage is the act of undermining one’s success or happiness. This can take many forms, such as procrastination, self-doubt, or self-destructive behaviours. Self-sabotaging behaviour can be a result of negative self-perception, fear of failure or success, or other factors. In some cases, self-sabotage may be a coping mechanism for dealing with stress or difficult emotions (imposter syndrome). It is important to identify and address self-sabotage, as it can prevent you from achieving your goals and living a fulfilling life.
The goals for 2022
At the start of the year, just like everyone else, I had goals for every day for 365 days. I had written all that I hoped to achieve and all that I hoped to win because I was certain I would put in the work. Acquire all the knowledge I hoped to gain and all that there is to make myself proud. Top of this list of these goals were:
To Earn the CKAD certification
Get an apartment
Purchase a new laptop(Cause it was about time)
Speak at KubeCon in person.
Start content creating
Gain more knowledge of cloud computing and DevOps
Get more experience and understanding of Documentation and DEI best practices
Become good at this Advocacy thing
Learn the art of networking
Battling Imposter syndrome
Failing the CKAD certification
After studying hard for the CKAD certification for about four months, I was sure I was more than ready to take the exams. Sadly, I failed on the first trial. I was so embarrassed, disappointed, and mostly scared.
From that moment on, I started questioning my credibility and what I thought I knew. While it was possible to retake the exams using the second trial, I was too scared to watch myself fail all over again. I backed down and ended up in “tutorial hell,” which went on for months.
Getting Laid off
It was not too long after my exam nightmare that the layoffs in the tech industry started spreading like a pandemic. Sadly, I got laid off from my role as a “Technical writer” and I was devastated.
At this point, the tiny voice in my head thought it was a sign from the universe that I was not good enough — this made me worry even more.
I spent the next couple of months unable to write or speak about anything at all. I just continuously blamed myself for all that had happened. Even after watching a bunch of tutorials and courses, it all seemed futile.
I almost did not notice it, but I was slowly getting more comfortable with being too scared to try. Procrastination, silent quitting, negligence, and disorganization were creeping in, and I had to act fast.
- Fixating on the failures
It’s natural for humans to be sad and reflect on times when we were rejected or when nothing went as planned. However, when we fixate on these failures and shortcomings rather than focusing on their strengths and accomplishments, it can lead to negative self-talk that, over time, evolves into a feeling of inadequacy. I doubted my ability to do anything right because I could not get over the times I failed or received a rejection. For example, I found myself thinking about how I was laid off, how I failed my certification, and how I could not think of any content.
- Forgetting to remember
Most times, we get to a point where we forget who we are, why we started, how far we have come, and what we are capable of when we try. We forget that the journey is what makes us who we are.
While it seemed like the walls around me were all closing in on me, I could not think of anything else but wonder “why” every day. The longer I dwelt on my failure, the more I forgot what I was capable of and the skills I already had. This made me discredit the efforts I had made in the past and deny myself the possibility of trying new things.
I found that I could no longer think outside the box because I had subconsciously put myself in it with my thoughts.
- Shutting everyone out
Imposter syndrome often has a way of making you feel so much shame that you assume everyone else is judging you. You suddenly develop this fear of your colleagues, friends, and family not seeing you with it all put together. The thought of everyone discovering I was not good enough made me cringe, so I hide from the world. I just assumed that if I ever shared how I was feeling, everyone would realize I’m not all that great. Not till I took the bold step of talking to a few friends about it did I realize it was all in my head.
- Putting pressure on yourself
Since I thought of myself as the problem, I consistently repeated the phrases “I need to do better” and “there must be something I am not doing right.” I thought this would help motivate me to try harder and get better, but I had no idea I was giving myself self-inflicted anxiety. I would say to myself, “If every other person can study for this certification in 4 months and ace it, I can too.”
However, I am not everybody. I gave myself so many tasks with deadlines that knowing fully well only a miracle could help me beat them. With the kind of pressure I was putting on myself, I was slowly walking into the hands of burnout and chronic anxiety. What’s funny is that all this pressure made me feel more scared of the journey and the outcome. What I realized is that trying harder doesn’t always result in a better outcome.
How I escaped self-sabotage
While most people are quick to notice when something is wrong, others may not be able to recognize when they need help. I owe it to my family and friends who helped me understand and overcome what I was going through.
- Learn to unlearn
You do not grow by holding onto past experiences when there are a thousand opportunities to create new ones every passing day. Thriving in today’s accelerated world requires adopting a learner’s mindset. So you must accept the natural discomfort that comes with letting go of the old and learning to master the new.
To overcome imposter syndrome, it can be helpful to “unlearn” the negative thought patterns and beliefs that contribute to it. This means figuring out what those limiting beliefs are making you think and challenging them. Then, you need to replace them with more balanced and realistic thoughts. For example, instead of telling yourself that you are not good enough or that you don’t deserve your success, try reframing these thoughts in a more positive light. For example, you might tell yourself that you have worked hard to achieve your success and that you are capable of continuing to learn and grow in your field.
- Practice self-appreciation
One way to deal with imposter syndrome is to practice self-compassion. Self-compassion involves treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a good friend. It means being gentle with yourself, acknowledging your struggles, and recognizing your growth so far.
Be kind to yourself, and speak kindly to yourself. This will help to build self-esteem and combat negative self-talk. Challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that keep threatening you. Instead of focusing on your shortcomings, focus on your strengths and accomplishments.
- The growth curve
When you are working towards a goal, you will progress through different stages of learning and development that come with mixed feelings — some days are pleasant while other days are rarely comfortable. I am dealing with this by taking small steps towards my goals. Because in the end, the important part is the journey it took to achieve those goals.
Recognize that everyone’s journey is unique, and the journey might not always be rosy. This will help you to focus on the progress you have made and the skills you have acquired rather than compare yourself to others or feel inadequate.
- Take a deep breath
Every now and then, things don’t always go as planned. So don’t hate yourself for not feeling as vibrant and awesome as you normally would. It is important to remember that you and everyone else are continuously evolving. Just relax.
- Communicate how you feel.
I had always been an introvert and was always too scared to speak up in meetings or contribute more. I felt like I didn’t have enough knowledge about the topics we were discussing in meetings. I would constantly think about what my colleagues would say if I said something wrong or was not able to answer a question.
It took time for me to realize that it was okay for me not to know everything about every topic we discussed in meetings. It also took time for me to realize that it was important for me to share my thoughts with my colleagues, even if I wasn’t 100% sure about what I wanted to say.
You can overcome this feeling by communicating how you feel to friends, family, colleagues, or a trusted mentor. By talking about your concerns, doubts, and fears, you can gain a more realistic perspective on your abilities and accomplishments.
- Set realistic goals
One way of dealing with imposter syndrome is to set realistic goals for yourself. By setting specific, achievable goals, you can measure progress and accomplishments more objectively. This can help you reduce feelings of self-doubt and increase confidence in your abilities.
I got the Apartment and the Macbook
Became a member of the Kubernetes Community Day Africa organising team
Creating a template guide on Documentation Landing pages
I spoke at the Linux Member Submit and more conferences
Started a Youtube channel
Wrote awesome content this year on DevOps and Cloud technologies
I am getting better at Dev Advocacy
I made great friends.
I want to thank everyone who helped me overcome this imposter syndrome and helped me recognize my strengths.
Overall, overcoming imposter syndrome and escaping self-sabotage is a journey. It takes time and effort, but it is worth it. By recognizing and addressing your feelings of inadequacy, you can learn to trust in your abilities and stop self-sabotaging behaviours.
While the year had a ton of unexpected events, it ended up being a great learning experience for me. Additionally, I learned that no one is perfect and that everyone experiences setbacks, self-doubt, and failures at times. However, it is important to not let these experiences and feelings define your self-worth. I hope sharing my story inspires you and helps you overcome that imposter syndrome.