You may have heard about it from numerous sources or even experienced it yourself. There is no escaping that feeling creeping up your neck at a meeting or in that advanced level course. Did you miss something in that last report? Was your answer to the discussion question too shortsighted? Is it just you or does your boss look at you crazy sometimes? Do you belong there?
Imposter syndrome is that feeling. According to the American Psychological Association, the “impostor phenomenon occurs among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.” This feeling is very common in millennials and is especially common in black millennials. Unfortunately, the stress of a new job or opportunity can be amplified when coupled with fallout from racial biases and stereotypes. Having Imposter Syndrome as a black millennial means grappling with the weight of representing an entire race of people while juggling the various projects and emails thrown our way. It can feel like there is no way out of the spiraling symptoms (this I know), so here are five ways to deal with your Imposter Syndrome in the work place or classroom:
Remember your successes
Did you recently graduate with honors? Study abroad? Win an award? Keep these things in mind. Remembering your accomplishments can bring a sense of peace, but also bring them to the forefront of your mind. Oftentimes, I forget the experiences or achievements I stacked up to get to where I am, and taking time out to really think about and revel in them brings me back to center. When you start to feel like an imposter, find the time to sit and write down any awards or crowning achievements that led you to that job or program. Keep this list with you, and take it out whenever you start to feel out of place.
Do for you
While it is good to focus on school or your job, make sure that you have something else you enjoy. Piling up achievements in another area can help boost your confidence. Do yoga and marvel at your increasing flexibility, or start an herb garden and watch your little babies grow. Do something where you can actually track and see the progress without worrying about your performance. Just make sure that your new “thing” does not become another stressful venture.
Give yourself a break
Quit it with the negative talk! You have accomplished so much; give yourself a break. Run that bubble bath or hang out with your friends. Make sure you are celebrating your wins and relaxing a little when you can. Personally, I like a good glass of wine and an episode of Real Housewives of Atlanta when I start to feel anxious and inadequate. Whatever you are into, really indulge. Time away from your work can put things in perspective. Do you really need this class to graduate? Is this job that important? You can decide this with a little break.
Talk it out
This may be the most important tip. If you are feeling as though you are not good enough or that the world would be better without you, talk to someone about it. Whether it’s a friend or loved one, talk about these feelings to get them out of your head. These thoughts can cycle and drive you to some pretty terrible behaviors if unchecked. Releasing these feelings is a step to overcoming them. Don’t want to burden your friends and family with your problems? There are apps like Talkspace and BetterHelp that provide a place to vent and get the advice you need. Don’t forget: part of protecting your magic is strengthening your mental health!
Try not to internalize
You just may be the only person in the office or classroom that thinks you can’t hang. That might sound crazy, but everyone is going through it. That crazy look you got from your boss might have nothing to do with you—especially if they have children. Your super smart classmate may have failed a test in a totally different class. It is hard to wrap your head around it, but for the most part people are mean, rude, and whatever else because something in their life is falling apart. Who knows, they may even think you are the competent one and feel less than because of it. You can never really tell.