You're Not an Imposter: Overcoming Confidence Struggles

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Have you ever felt like an imposter? You know, the thought that everyone else has it figured out and you’re just pretending. Sometimes that feeling can keep you from applying to jobs or even make you believe that you aren’t qualified for the internship you're about to begin. Most people have experienced this kind of self-doubt. In fact, an estimated 7 in 10 adults experience it at some point. As a recent Cleveland Clinic article points out, “feelings of self-doubt can stir up a lot of fear, anxiety, and stress. Studies have suggested imposter syndrome can lead to a drop in job performance and job satisfaction while increasing burnout. It’s also been linked to anxiety and depression.”

Let’s talk about some tips and resources for getting out of your own way and overcoming the negative self-talk (adapted from a Cleveland Clinic article).

Remember your accomplishments: Take ownership of your achievements. Recalling your successes can help calm the negative self-talk when it creeps in. It also helps reinforce that you are capable and have the potential to learn and grow.

  • Consider making a list at the end of each semester that celebrates your “small wins” and big accomplishments. This will be helpful to look back on if you begin to doubt yourself. 

Stop comparisons: Focus on your own achievements instead of comparing them to those of other people. We often see the highlight reel from others, and this can cause us to feel as if we don’t measure up to unrealistic standards.

  • Be mindful of social media consumption. If you are starting to feel bogged down by your feed, set a limit and stick to it – or even take a day or two to step away.

Talk with others: Chatting with someone who knows and supports you can help you realize that imposter syndrome is normal, but also irrational. While many of us have felt like imposters, when we get others’ perspective they remind us that we are often our own worse critics.

If you’re starting to recognize overwhelming feelings associated with the imposter syndrome, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Resources at Ohio State, including Student Life Wellness Coaching and the Embedded Clinicians within the College of Engineering can aid in identifying the best strategies for you.

“You are the most valuable investment you will ever make.” - Unknown