The Imposter Syndrome
Julie Zhuo

Still faking it …

Living with imposter syndrome

Imposter by Spiced Coffee

Ever since I was accepted into a prestigious engineering school, I have strived to fit in. Even now, as an established professional, I still sometimes feel like an imposter. But what has helped me get over much of this was giving up being a perfectionist.

Being great came easily in school, but when I was surrounded by other smart people in graduate school, and later at work, excelling became harder. The feeling of not belonging, along with harsh self-criticism, limited my ability to take on more challenging assignments and having a bigger impact.

Eventually, I realized even the most successful people had to work hard to get where they are, and that nobody is perfect. By looking at other successful people, it may seem like it all comes naturally to them , but invariably it results from years of experience. Good enough works most of the time, and self-imposed standards are often unnecessarily high.

Instead of shying away from new opportunities, it’s better to step up. Learning while doing is better than waiting to gather all the information before taking the first steps. Focus on what you can learn from the new opportunity, instead of worrying about what you currently don’t know. Trust what you do know and be willing to learn as you go.

Giving up being a perfectionist also gives you permission to ask questions. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but instead shows curiosity and a willingness to learn. Competence is not doing everything on your own, but is identifying what needs to be done and getting the job done by whatever means necessary

Finally — fake it till you make it — everybody is doing it, and so can you !