I had a random talk with a friend the other day. We’ve shared deep conversations before discussing topics like depression, inner peace, individualism and even religion and politics. But the recent one was quite tough and authentic. It was about happiness. Specifically, my happiness.
He told me, in a very calm and direct way, “you are not happy”.
He said, I am just overwhelmed with how life is showing me new and great things. That I am just enjoying life and its exciting offers with the new people I am with and new environment I am in.
“But you’re not happy”, he said.
It’s been playing in my mind over and over again. And it so happened that the unfamiliar term “impostor syndrome” comes on my Twitter feed often. It has become a new millennial thing.
Someone said, “this psychological phenomenon, known as impostor syndrome, reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure, despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.”
One Twitter user defines the term as “the fear of people discovering you are not really happy”.
Then, boom! I got hit. Somehow. Not entirely but somehow.
Defining impostor syndrome
Breena Kerr published an article on thehustle.co talking about ‘Why 70% of Millennials Have Impostor Syndrome’ and it says:
The “Impostor Phenomenon” was first identified in the late 1970s by Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Their research showed that many high-achieving women believe they were not intelligent and that they were over-evaluated by others.
People who have impostor syndrome “experience intense feelings that their achievements are un-deserved and that they’re likely to be exposed as a fraud,” according to a report in the International Journal of Behavioural Science.
Psychologists first thought that impostor syndrome affected only professional women, but research has proved that men and women feel it equally. The profession you’re in doesn’t matter. It’s been found in college kids, academics, managers, and medical workers.
Actual success doesn’t matter either.
According to the same report, “anyone can view themselves as an impostor if they fail to internalise their success.”
Ironically, people who feel this way are almost always able to meet the requirements of their job, so their fears of inadequacy are just that – fears.
Ever feel like you’re faking it? Are you worried that someone will find out and you’ll get busted?
@MelloMakes on Twitter said, “worrying that all my cool online friends will find out how unintelligent I am is just another part of impostor syndrome, isn’t it?”
That’s what I was about to say. Or it could also be projecting ironic sadness on the internet in the hopes that no one discovers how deep your actual sadness runs.
Millennials might feel impostor syndrome more as they’ve entered the workforce at a time of outrageous technological advancements and constant comparison on social media. I repeat, constant comparison on Instagram followers, Facebook likes and Twitter engagements.
Meanwhile, other people’s LinkedIn pages make it seem like they’ve got it all together – dream job, dream boss, dream position.
But there’s a big chance that your perception isn’t in line with reality. It doesn’t usually work that way.
Technology is growing so fast that most of us are learning something new on almost every project we work on. And that can make us feel like we don’t have the expertise we should. Or we’re losing it every time we face something new.
Many high achievers and online sensations and even celebrities share a dirty little secret: Deep down they feel like complete frauds. And that their accomplishments are results of serendipitous luck.
No matter the specific profile, if you struggle with confidence, you’re far from alone. To take one example, studies suggest 70 percent of people experience impostor syndrome at some point in their career.
Though social media shows a lot of reasons to feel small and under-accomplished, it also is a place with a bunch of impostors who are embracing and learning from the common syndrome they, or, we all are struggling to overcome.
Know your worth
Impostor syndrome – the nicer and scientifically accepted term to cover the frustrations behind the more fitting expression, “what am I doing here?”
As nice and scientific as it may sound, impostor syndrome creates a world of pure black if not grey. It’s a world where no answers are available, only questions. In the end, it can be cured by simply knowing your worth. But it’s not really simple.
But come on, there’s nothing wrong with questioning our inner selves whether what we have now is something we deserve or something we need. We all go through that part of life.
This one’s a good reminder…
Being happy isn’t something we can post on Instagram in a minimalist flat-lay picture, or broadcast in a tweet. It is not overworking ourselves just for a pat on the back but no real personal gain.
At any given time, happiness is being able to look at yourself and know you have what you deserve and truly believe your contributions are good enough and that you have given enough or even more.
It’s not always about the result, but the steps and even leaps you took to get there.
When we take the time to remember our efforts, we take the time to realise we are worthy of everything we already have, and everything to come.