Imposter Syndrome; a rash in the brain

Jo O'Shea
Love, Jo
Published in
3 min readMay 18, 2021

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What to do when you feel like you’re wearing a mask

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As I prepare to deliver training on a stage to over 30 people for 2 weeks, I have an overwhelming sense of anxiety. I haven’t done this before. I will never be prepared enough. I’m not qualified for this. I don’t have the experience for this. Actually, am I even the right person for my job? I have been in this role for over 2 years. And for the past two years I have excelled. So why am I now doubting my entire self and job over one piece of work? Two words. Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is the internal belief you’re inadequate or not competent as competent as others may perceive you to be, regardless of previous success.

It’s like a rash. Spreads quickly with no warning. Then disappears with no evidence it was ever there, except the memory.

There is probably a whole book on how to deal with imposter syndrome, but here are the 5 ways I squash it:

1. Allow yourself to feel the feelings.

Brushing them aside or pushing them down will only last for so long. We can only compartmentalise for so long. They will just eat away at you, until you reach your boiling point. Take some time to slow down and focus on being in the present. Listen to your body and mind and what it is trying to tell you. Take the time to understand what you are feeling. Once you have done this, separate your feelings from the facts. The facts being you are competent and good enough.

2. Talk

Vocalise your feelings. Talk to your friends. Talk to your family. Talk to your colleagues. Talk to your cat. I probably do the latter more than I should. But it helps. When we talk about how and what we feel, especially when we have kept it to ourselves, we can often feel a weight lifted from our shoulders. A problem shared and all that.

3. Reflect on your past success

You are where you are right now for a reason. You are good at what you do. People trust you. People trust your work. Reflect on your successes in the past 12 months. Remember how you felt. Remember it was your hard work that led to their success. Not pot luck.

4. Reframe the issue

It’s hard to remember all the time, but there is a famous saying that says

“if you’re having a difficult time, think about what the universe is trying to teach you.”

If you’re doubting yourself because of a particular piece of work or project you think is outside of your comfort zone, use the experience as a learning experience. Use it to grow.

5. Embrace it

Growth comes from being outside your comfort zone. Think about it. It was nerve wracking attending that senior management meeting for the first time. It was scary delivering that presentation to 10 people. You learnt from it. You gained experience. You got stronger. You got better. Why? Because you were outside your comfort zone. If you start feeling like an imposter, embrace it. Use the opportunity to grow.

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Jo O'Shea
Love, Jo

26, originally from Essex but live in Manchester.